Vettel hopes to be a happy camper
LONDON, July 19 — Twice world champion Sebastian Vettel will try and break two hoodoos at Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Although he is the youngest driver to win a Formula One race, the youngest to win a title and the youngest double world champion, the 25-year-old Red Bull driver has yet to win a race in his homeland or in July.
Born in Heppenheim less than 50 kilometres away, Vettel will be racing in his fifth German Grand Prix having finished eighth, second, third and fourth in his previous home outings.
“It is different. But on the other hand, you don’t get more points there so I will enjoy the weekend and do my best,” he said.
“It’s always a special crowd to race in front of. I’ve driven on that circuit in different series and it’s always been great. The campsites near the new circuit are fun and it’s special to meet the fans there.”
A win would be a boost for Vettel who is third overall, and 16 points behind second-placed Australian team mate Mark Webber after nine of the 20 races.
Hockenheim is famous for its campsites which accommodate thousands of fans, who spend the evenings drinking beers and enjoying barbecues, though numbers have diminished in the last few years.
However, with Nico Rosberg and a resurgent Michael Schumacher looking to give the Mercedes works team their first home win since Juan Manuel Fangio won at the Nuerburgring in 1954, organisers are hoping for a big crowd.
After retiring five times in his first seven races of the season, seven-times world champion Schumacher has managed a third place, his first podium since his comeback, and seventh in his last two outings.
“This year is the first time that our Mercedes works team has been capable of racing right at the front, and because of that, we’re hoping for lots of support from the fans and to reward them with our performance,” said Schumacher.
“We have set ourselves the clear target of giving everybody a reason to celebrate next weekend.”
Rosberg, sixth in the standings, is racing at home as a winner for the first time after his victory in China.
“Hockenheim is always very special for us, and especially for me,” said Rosberg, who was born in nearby Wiesbaden and is the son of 1982 Formula One world champion Keke Rosberg.
“I have really good memories of the previous Hockenheim races. Before my Formula One career, I won quite often at this circuit, and I will never forget my father’s last DTM race in 1995,” he recalled.
“I joined him on the roof of his car driving through the Motodrom - and that was the moment when I decided to become a racing driver like him.
“I will be pushing really hard to perform well in front of our fans in the Mercedes Grandstand, so we can hopefully celebrate a good result together. I think our car should suit this track much better than Silverstone.
“Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the Silver Arrow.”
The race could also be crucial for McLaren’s season following poor performances at Valencia and Silverstone which left them trailing in fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Lewis Hamilton, celebrating his 100th Formula One race on Sunday, has dropped 37 points behind leader Fernando Alonso with his team mate Jenson Button 79 points adrift of the Spaniard.
“We don’t have the pace of the top three teams. At the moment we are racing the Williams, the Sauber and the Force India,” said Button after the British Grand Prix. — Reuters