Two weeks after the Russian GP, the Formula 1 World Championship is back for the eleventh race of this atypical, coronavirus-disrupted season. The 2020 F1 Eifel GP will take place at the Nürburgring Circuit, a venue absent from the F1 calendar since 2013.
The legendary racetrack, which sits at the foot of the mountain that gives the event its name, will thus receive the first visit of the machines from the hybrid era.
Friday’s free practice sessions will be key to get a feel for how the cars might behave in this uncharted territory, the absence of data making it really hard to predict any results.
To add onto the suspense and expectation of the German round, the weather forecast is announcing rains –possibly heavily ones- during the weekend and maximum temperatures of 12º C, all of which will hamper adherence to the track.
The unpredictable weather conditions so common of the ‘Green Hell’ also mean the choice of compounds is a real gamble.
One of this weekend’s highlights will be the official debut of Mick Schumacher at a Formula 1 weekend. The son of the seven-time champion will premiere at the Free Practice 1 session on Friday with Alfa Romeo, while Britain’s Callum Illot will do the same with Haas at that same session.
Mercedes, favourite at home
Mercedes is once again the number one favourite, although anything can happen if weather conditions are adverse enough. If predictions are right Lewis Hamilton will level up – in his second attempt – with Michael Schumacher in number of F1 wins (91).
The Briton, however, has a greater goal in his mind as he heads towards achieving his seventh World Championship Title, also drawing up level with “The Red Baron”, as the most successful F1 driver in history.
Lewis’ teammate Valtteri Bottas arrives in Germany in great spirits after taking his second win of the season at the last Russian GP. If he doesn’t get attacked by a ‘giant bee’ at the start of the race, as it happened in Sochi, the Finn could truly shine this Sunday.
Red Bull vs Mercedes
Red Bull will once again pose the greatest threat to the dictatorship of the Black Arrows. It will be interesting to see how the RB16 performs after the news last week that engine provider, Honda, will leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021.
Team star Max Verstappen is likely to be concerned about his future after the Japanese firm announced its departure, but right now he stands as the only hope for the Milton Keynes squad.
Nobody is expecting much from his crestfallen teammate, Alex Albon. The Anglo-Thai needs to raise the bar and stop feeding the rumours regarding his upcoming layoff. Checo Pérez and Nico Hulkenberg are already being mentioned as possible substitutes.
Ferrari, to keep improuving
The Maranello squad is looking surprisingly optimistic regarding the Eifel F1 GP. The Italians are very satisfied with the improvements (front and rear spoilers) introduced in Russia.
Charles Leclerc’s pace on board his Ferrari SF1000 at that race seems to have reassured them they are on the right track to solve the performance problems suffered to date.
The Prancing Horses have a few more developments up their sleeves to be unveiled at the German race, improvements that could amount to a small revolution. To be sure of their effectiveness, however, these would have to be tested on a dry track.
Down on the midfield, McLaren must make a big comeback after its fiasco at the shores of the Black Sea where they ended with both cars out of the points for the first time in the season.
Currently, the Woking team is third in the standings, three points above Racing Point and seven ahead of Renault.
Images of 2020 Formula 1 Eifel GP: Mercedes AMG F1.