Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton faces fierce Rosberg support in Hockenheim

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Rosberg will have an equally passionate home crowd at Hockenheim (©GettyImages)
Rosberg will have an equally passionate home crowd at Hockenheim (©GettyImages).

If ever there was a race to rekindle the passion for Formula 1 it was the British Grand Prix just over a week ago.

Packed grandstands with fanatical fans and the finest racing drivers in the world enjoying one of the most challenging layouts on the calendar.

With that perfect mix, the sport treated itself to another incredible show of wheel-to-wheel action, a reminder of how dangerous the sport can be and a home win that could have incredible repercussions in the battle for this year's world championship crown.

Home win

As Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line to send the capacity crowd at Silverstone wild, it saw the Briton close back to within four points of title rival and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

This weekend's race will offer almost the exact same atmosphere and another awesome track but this time, the shoe is on the other foot as Nico Rosberg will be the home favourite as F1 heads to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix.

The fun and games between the pair started less than 24 hours after Hamilton's dominant win in Great Britain with the 2008 champion insinuating his team-mate is not really heading to his home race because he is not really German.

While technically Lewis has a point given the recently married Rosberg has spent most of his life in Monaco, Nico was born in Germany and in response to Hamilton's claim, as he gears up to watch his nation play in the World Cup Final, made it clear he is, in his eyes, "100% German".

Home race for Mercedes

Either way it is also a huge weekend for their team Mercedes, who despite being based in the UK naturally consider Germany their home race.

Indeed the Stuttgart based carmaker will have a grandstand packed full of its own employees and the famous 'Stadium' section will be packed full of equally passionate Germans cheering on Rosberg and hoping he too can deliver in front of his home crowd.

There is another reason this weekend's race could be special, it could be the final Grand Prix held at Hockenheim at least in the near future.

Nurburgring rumours

A few weeks ago speculation from the new owners at the Nurburgring, the circuit that currently alternates hosting duties with Hockenheim, suggested the venue would become the yearly host from 2015 meaning the end of the road for one of the sport's most iconic racetracks.

In many ways it is a good dilemma to have, in that both Hockenheim and Nurburgring have such a storied history in F1, but for those of a middle-aged and younger disposition Hockenheim is the spiritual home of the German Grand Prix.

Of course those who can remember the 1960's and 70's will scoff having watched the race take place on the formidable Nordschleife but Hockenheim was the place that kept Germany on the motor sport map when F1 decided the 'Green Hell' had become too dangerous.

Then when most think of Hockenheim, the current track is not what springs to mind neither.

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Along with Monza the old layout used to consist of many long straights dissected by three chicanes.

The V10 roar through the forests and the local climate that often saw one half of the circuit wet with the other half dry was what many think of as the real Hockenheim and that track hosted its final race in 2001.

Afterwards it was demolished with most of the track now being reclaimed by the forest.

In many ways, however, the current Hockenheim layout is not that bad of a track, it is just the knowledge of what it used it be that brings tears to most F1 fan's eyes.

I'll look in more detail at the track in my guide later in the week but now lets preview the weekend as a whole as what awaits is another battle of the Silver Arrows.

Race preview

With the points all but tied whoever wins at Hockenheim has to be favourite to head into the summer break at the top of the standings after the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 27th.

A potential factor is the banning of the FRIC suspension system which is set to be imposed from the German race.

As was the case at Red Bull in previous years, it was Sebastian Vettel's ability to master the blown diffuser that helped him win his four straight world titles and while the ban won't prevent another dominant Mercedes weekend, the impact of losing the system could have on the Hamilton vs. Rosberg battle is huge.

If one driver has a clear advantage over the other while adjusting to driving without the FRIC, it could give the other man a few races where he could create a gap in the championship so the time difference between the two Mercedes' will be fascinating.

Behind Sebastian Vettel heads to the nearest track to his home town of Heppenheim in a rare position.

The Red Bull driver finally won the German Grand Prix last year, albeit at the more distant Nurburgring track, but will likely have to rely on further Mercedes unreliability to do so again this year.

The Milton Keynes squad are unsure of their potential at Hockenheim with the long straights early in the lap only countered by a sequence of slow corners towards the end.

Therefore this puts them in the firing line for the resurgent Williams team and notably Valtteri Bottas to continue their strong form.

The Finn has scored two straight podiums and maybe favourite to claim the final step again in Germany providing the Mercedes' run reliably while Felipe Massa will be hoping for better luck after being the victim of Raikkonen's huge crash at Silverstone.

Then comes the big midfield battle. McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Force India and Lotus will likely be all covered by very small margins around one of the shortest laps on the calendar.

Mercedes power

Mercedes power may come in very useful along one of the longer straights in F1 into one of the best overtaking spots so expect a potentially better weekend from McLaren and Force India but Ferrari have also been improving in recent races so cannot be ruled out either.

As for Lotus and Toro Rosso they will be there to pick up the pieces and maybe take advantage of the weather should the occasionally fickle climate around the forests produce any downpours.

Sauber and Marussia will continue their increasingly tense battle with Jules Bianchi potentially one to watch out for again after his benchmark setting day in the Ferrari at the Silverstone test.

While at Caterham, with little still known about their new owners, reports suggest some developments are coming to the CT04 so just how quick and how effective those new parts will be shall be another story to keep an eye on.

But with the fans cheering in the stands and enjoy their parties on the nearby campsites there is only one man they want to see on the top step come Sunday at Hockenheim and should Nico Rosberg deliver it could be another tale in a season with more twists and turns than the roads around his other home race which incidentally he won too.

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