German Grand Prix: Hockenheimring

Hockenheimring Track
Hockenheimring Track (aldorado10 /

The Hockenheimring in Germany has been the focal point of motor racing within the country for more than 80 years. The track has changed probably as much as any on the current F1 calendar, which has allowed it to evolve with the needs for races such as F1. 

The circuit is located in Hockenheim, which is widely considered to be the home of F1 within the country. Being in Europe and the race taking place mid-summer, generally the weather is good for the race weekend, but it is susceptible to showers, which certainly adds another layer of difficulty to this already difficult track. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Hockenheim 4.574km 16 120,000 1932

Circuit Layout

F1 German Grand Prix Track Map Hockenheimring

The current track has an asphalt surface, which follows that of many of the F1 race tracks that are within purpose-built arenas such as Hockenheim. It measures around 4.57km in length, but in 2002 it was ordered to reduce the length from the original layout of 8.82km, which race organisers had stated was too long. The F1 even threatened to remove the circuit from the calendar should these requirements not be met. 

The local government were able to secure funding to take the necessary changes and enlisted that of Hermann Tilke, who is probably the most famous track designer in the world, playing a huge role in several developments, such as Bahrain, China, France and Austria, to name just a few.  

The bottom half of the track (stadium section) was an rea that Tilke really liked, so this remained relatively untouched. But, the rest of the course saw huge changes and they decided to do away with the two long straights that allowed cars to get up to blistering speeds. Whilst the cars were moving fast, it did make it tough to complete overtaking manoeuvres, as there was rarely any need to drop lower than around 4thgear on this section.

The new design also included an almost 180 degree hairpin, which would see cars have to dramatically reduce speed to navigate. The two long straights that the course was previously known for had disappeared and the track you see today is not only very different, but means that cars need to be set up in a completely different way. 

Another aspect that Tilke was keen to include was the complete removal of the old, unused section and add back in the forest that was previously there. He decided that aesthetically this would look best and also give something back to the environment. 

But, this was probably his most controversial decisions as many people argued that removing the track meant that the ability to run old race on the original trakc would be lost. There were even many people within F1 that criticised the move, most notably that of Ron Dennis, Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya. Not only did they state that they didn’t want to see the old circuit completely removed, but they also argued the old circuit was better for racing and more exciting from a driver’s perspective. 

The FIA saw differently though and were happy to sign off the changes allowing Hockenheim to host the 2003 German Grand Prix. The stadium now boosts over 120,000 people on race days, making it one of the most well-attended races in F1. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.18.746
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.21.298
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.34.164

Other Races at Hockenheimring

Hockenheimring (aldorado10 /

One of the other major races that they are able to offer at the track is that of drag racing. They hold one of the largest events in Europe, known as the NitrolympX. The new drag racing strip that came about in 2002 was shorted than that of the previous design by some distance, although still offering up a substantial quarter-mile strip needed for these types of races. However, even with the reduced size of the strip and the fact that it sits at a weird angle to the new grandstand, it’s still one of the biggest of type for these types of events anywhere in Europe. 

The track also hosts a number of GP2, GP3 and FIA World Rally Cross Events. The layout of the course and the grandstand means that it’s also been a popular music venue over the years as well, with the likes of Michael Jackson, Tian turner, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Robbie Williams and the Sonisphere Festival in 2009, headlined by that of Metallica. 


Nordkurve, 2014 German Grand Prix
Nordkurve, 2014 German Grand Prix (Justin LaBerge /

Of the original track that was designed in 1932, there is very little left. It was seen as a triangle course and compared to modern day F1 tracks, was a little basic to be honest. The guy behind the idea for the track was that of Ernst Christ, who wanted to bring racing to his home time of Hockenheim. The track was a staggering 12km in length.

Track Alterations

By 1938 the first of the major redesigns and taken pale and over 5km of the track was removed, forming more of the oval ring that it was famed for. The track saw significant damage throughout World War II, but it was fully restored not long after and by 1954 they were able to host the German Motorcycle Grand Prix. 

By the 1992 German Grand Prix, the track was altered again, mainly following several fatal accidents, including that of Jim Clark in 1970. The speed the cars were able to get up to was getting too much for the track to handle with, so a series of safety barriers and chicanes were added to slow them down a little. The track only saw minor improvements to it over the next decade or so, before the major rework came about in 2002, as spoken about above.