Jenson Button says he enjoys racing at Hockenheim but the new circuit is not “as mighty” as the old layout.
F1 raced on a 6.8km high-speed version of the Hockenheimring until 2001, when it was shortened in to the current 4.8km circuit. Button raced on the old layout during his first two seasons in F1 – finishing fourth in 2000 and fifth the following year – and he admits he misses the challenge but likes the way the new track offers overtaking opportunities.
“I remember racing at the old Hockenheim – four 200mph straights, a couple of fiddly chicanes and a stadium section where you held on tightly because the car didn't have any downforce,” Button said. “It seems like a different level of craziness compared with today, but it was a lot of fun.
“The re-designed circuit could never be as mighty as the old Hockenheim, but it's a fun little track, and it's been purposely designed to encourage racing. The long, curved straight up to Turn Six is tailor-made for slipstreaming – you force the car ahead to be defensive, so it's actually on the run to Turn Seven that you usually try to overtake, because you're capitalising on the other car's slower exit. Turn Eight is another place where you can try to make a move – because it's possible to get into the corner side-by-side with another driver, and then make the position stick.”
And Button believes the layout of the current Hockenheim circuit will favour McLaren more than recent races.
“There are a couple of high-speed corners, but the circuit is largely made up of low-speed turns, so our car shouldn't be too disadvantaged. It's a race that often throws up a surprise or two, so I'm looking forward to the weekend.”