A resurgent Williams is hopeful of keeping its recent strong form going with another substantial haul of points in this weekend's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim – a circuit at which Nico Hülkenberg will benefit from a wealth of home support, and one that holds particularly happy memories for team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
The ultra-experienced Brazilian, indeed, has almost single-handedly hauled Williams to within near striking distance of sixth-placed Force India in the constructors' standings, with superb performances in Valencia and at Silverstone over the past month that yielded fourth and fifth positions respectively – and 22 of the team's 31 points thus far this season.
Better yet, the first of the 38-year-old's eleven grand prix victories came at Hockenheim – as he broke his duck with Ferrari by expertly managing a damp track surface on slick tyres back in 2000, having begun the race all the way down in 18th on the starting grid – so he returns to the Baden-Württemberg circuit with a spring in his step and in no mood to see his impressive points-scoring run be brought to an end.
“Hockenheim is a very challenging track, particularly for setting up the car,” acknowledged the Paulista. “Despite the revisions a few years ago, the circuit still has a longish straight, but if you set up specifically for that you just lose time in the infield area. It's quite a high-speed course, and you need straight-line speed in order to attack into the corners. That really applies going into the hairpin, which is a good place to overtake – in fact, it's probably the best opportunity we have around the lap. The stadium section is tight and tough on tyres.
“The German Grand Prix is really popular among the fans, so the weekend has a great atmosphere and I enjoy going there. It's where I took my first grand prix win, so I obviously have nice memories of this race. The team are still working hard to bring more improvements to the car. It would be positive to continue our recent run of form at Hockenheim and stay within the top ten.”
Those sentiments are corroborated by Hülkenberg, who broke into the top ten for only the second time in his fledgling top flight career in the British Grand Prix – and would dearly love nothing better than to achieve his highest F1 finish to-date in front of his partisan supporters.
“Racing in front of your home crowd is a different experience to going to any other grand prix,” affirmed the 22-year-old. “I know that the German fans are really looking forward to their race and they'll create a really buzzing atmosphere. Everything will be a little more focussed on the German drivers, so it will be a busy weekend.
“Hockenheim is actually one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. I've had some strong races there in the past and some good results, especially the two wins in 2005 in the Formula BMW-ADAC series. The track layout is quite interesting, and the Motodrom is the best part of it – it's like a football stadium and has a very special atmosphere. There are very quick parts to the track, like Turn One, as well as some slow and tight corners, which means we will have to find a good compromise on car set-up.
“We have to be quick on the straights too, because there is a good chance to overtake going into the hairpin, and we have to be careful with the tyres because the track can be quite hard on them. Scoring a point at Silverstone was satisfying and motivating, but I am hungry for more and want to improve upon that result at Hockenheim.”
“After a couple of good race results at two quite different circuits, the team is looking forward to a competitive outing at Hockenheim,” concluded the Grove-based outfit's technical director Sam Michael. “Our target is to qualify both cars in the top ten and to race for points. We have made some further modifications to the diffuser and also to the blown rear wing, which we'll test during Friday's practice sessions. Although the development race is fierce, testing restrictions really enable all of the teams to compete on equal terms.”