Fearsome circuits, hometown heroes and fisticuffs. Germany has seen its fair share of memorable F1® moments over the years. Here’s a short history of the German Grand Prix.
The Nürburgring did not host the first German Grand Prix – that honor went to AVUS Berlin in 1926 – but the iconic circuit in the Eifel Mountains is synonymous with German racing. Although different layouts have been used over the years, the most well-known is the Nordschleife, which was used for the German Grand Prix between 1931 and 1976. Measuring 22.81km and comprising of a staggering 160 corners, the Nordschleife was considered the ultimate test of a driver’s skill. Unfortunately, it was also dangerous. The 1976 German Grand Prix, in which Niki Lauda was seriously injured in a fiery crash, was the last time that the full Nordschleife circuit was used. The much shorter GP-Strecke layout of the Nürburgring has since hosted several editions of the German Grand Prix, as well as the European Grand Prix.
The new Hockenheimring circuit in the Rhine Valley made its debut on the calendar in 1970, but didn’t establish an annual presence on the calendar until later in the decade. Featuring a stadium section and a series of long straights slicing through thick forest, the original Hockenheimring was treacherous in the rain and particularly harsh on engines, which often broke or ran out of fuel. To the dismay of many purists, the long forest sections of the circuit were removed in a comprehensive redesign led by Hermann Tilke ahead of the 2002 German Grand Prix. The new Motodrom layout of the circuit can hold up to 120,000 fans.
From 2008-2014, a race sharing agreement between the Hockenheimring and the Nürburgring saw the German Grand Prix alternate between the two circuits. This arrangement ended after the ownership of the Nürburgring changed hands. Since 2014, the German Grand Prix has been staged only every two years at the Hockenheimring.
German Rudolf Caracciola is the most successful driver in the German Grand Prix with six victories on home soil between 1926 and 1939. German fans had to wait more than 50 years for the next victory by a local driver, which came courtesy of Michael Schumacher in 1996. Schumacher won a total of four times at the Hockenheimring, the most of any driver in the modern era of Formula 1®. On the current grid, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have each won three times. Ferrari is by far the most successful constructor in the German Grand Prix, with 22 victories between 1950 and 2012.