Despite the name, this is effectively the German Grand Prix, with the title only having been changed after Hockenheim and the Nurgburgring failed to agree on that part of the decision to share Germany's round of the world championship for the foreseeable future.

Hit by falling attendances and rising costs, Germany's two major venues decided to pool their efforts in retaining at least one race on the calendar, with the Nurburgring being accorded the first event of the 'date share' plan, albeit having to use the European Grand Prix title. While the usual comparisons will be made between Nurburgring new and old, the current version isn't as bad as the purists would have you believe and has produced the odd decent race over the years.

It remains to be seen what impact Michael Schumacher's retirement will have on the crowd figures, although Nick Heidfeld's current run of form may be enough to tempt a few doubters through the gate. With Schumacher due to be immortalised with the renaming of corners in his honour - the 'Schumacher S' will replace the Audi and Shell Kurves that mark the circuit's return uphill from the Dunlop hairpin - and expected on track to mark the occasion there will still be something for the faithful to cheer.

That is unlikely to detract from the battle for supremacy on track, however, with McLaren fighting a rearguard action against a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen in recent races. The Finn, who has always run well at the 'Ring, will be looking to complete a hat-trick of race wins this weekend, while Mercedes-powered Fernando Alonso and points leader Lewis Hamilton will looking to give the Three-Pointed Star a home win to preserve their advantage at the head of the standings.


With more and more information slipping out in drips, the Formula 1 world remains captivated by the spying row that has engulfed Ferrari, McLaren and potentially even Honda. Although claims and counter claims make it difficult to exactly establish who is at fault, what is being accused, or who exactly is involved, what is clear is that the increasingly bitter - and bizarre - row is casting a dark shadow over the sport and this year's otherwise exciting title race.

For the moment, court proceedings are underway, with Nigel Stepney and Mika Coughlin both in the dock over alleged 'intellectual property' swapping from Ferrari to McLaren. Both claim their innocence, meaning the row is likely to drag on for yet more weeks...

After some sharp criticism over the last few races and rumours of his impending dismissal ever present at Silverstone, Christijan Albers has indeed been axed from the Spyker team with immediate effect. Although the word was that sponsors owed the team money, Albers has struggled in comparison with his more inexperienced team-mate Adrian Sutil this season.

As such, their test driver Markus Winkelhock will make his long-awaited Formula 1 debut this weekend at his home round, although it is unclear whether the DTM driver will retain the seat to the end of the year. Indeed, second test driver Adrian Valles has hinted he is in-line to race in Hungary, while Red Bull refugee and current Honda tester Christian Klien has also made himself a strong candidate by testing for Spyker at Spa.

McLaren - Fernando Alonso (#1), Lewis Hamilton (#2):

Second and third positions in the British Grand Prix last time out saw McLaren retain the lead of the constructors' championship, while Hamilton and Alonso both also kept their positions in the drivers' standings, but the entire operation knows that it cannot stand still for an instant as Ferrari shows signs of clawing back the deficit built up around the North American 'flyaways'

"We arrive at our home grand prix with a positive balance from the first half of the season as, in the first nine grands prix, Fernando and Lewis have achieved 15 out of 18
possible podium finishes, and McLaren is the only team to score points in every race with both drivers," Mercedes' Norbert Haug commented, "However, the most recent
races in Magny-Cours and Silverstone showed that we have to improve further, and everybody in the team works to achieve this in a disciplined manner and with all their power."

80 years on from Mercedes' first win at the N?rburgring - taken by Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes S sportscar - Alonso is confident that recent testing performances will give the Woking team a push in the right direction.

"We had a positive test at Spa, with a lot of dedication from everyone within the team," the world champion noted, "This season is very competitive and we all have to push hard to find more performance from every part of the car, particularly for the N?rburgring. It is not a track that depends on a particular part of the car and it is difficult to get the maximum performance here. The layout of the track, with the range of corners, means that you have to have a consistent balance for the different speeds, so there will be a lot of hard work with my engineers to get a competitive set-up.

"The changes to the track a couple of years ago have added another chance, under braking into the Mercedes Arena at the first corner. This will be my first time as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver racing in front of all the Mercedes-Benz employees from Stuttgart, who, I have been told, mostly sit in this section of the track. I am really looking forward to it and hope we can give them a good race."

Hamilton, meanwhile, returns to the Eifel circuit knowing that he enjoyed a successful weekend there on his way to the GP2 crown in 2006, but determined to overturn memories of a difficult home race, where he admitted to not getting his set-up right.

"Despite having a mixed weekend at Silverstone, we still came away from the track with a good haul of points and I am now really looking forward to getting back to the N?rburgring," he confirmed, "I had a great weekend there last year, taking my first double win of the year, and, in 2005, I also won one race there in F3.
Renault - Giancarlo Fisichella (#3), Heikki Kovalainen (#4):

Renault arrives in Germany having failed to take the fight to championship rival BMW Sauber at Silverstone and keen to elevate itself back into the fight for third rather than slipping back into the mire that already includes Toyota, Williams, Red Bull and, increasingly, Honda.

"The target is clear - to continue closing the gap to BMW on track, and to begin doing so in the championship," technical director Bob Bell confirmed, "If you look back to the opening races of the year, it was as if we were in a different race to them. Now we are regularly qualifying in the top ten and, according to the type of circuit, racing with our direct rivals. Giancarlo and Heikki are both pushing very hard and getting the maximum from the car but they now need a more performance to fight on equal terms with BMW.

"I'm very optimistic we can maintain our upward trajectory but, as we have been working to understand and solve our problems, we have fallen behind in the normal development of the car. The gap to our rivals reflects that. The solution is very simple - we need to accelerate our pace of development in the second half of the season. It will be a big challenge, but it's one that the factory is ready to take up. Our commitment is as strong as ever."
Kovalainen and Fisichella filled the final two scoring spots at Silverstone, but the Italian is confident that the team can bounce back.

"It is fair to say that the last two races were a bit disappointing, all the more so because they were our home races," he admitted, "We knew that it would be a tough battle with BMW. All of the teams are making progress, and our challenge is to do so faster than them in order to get ahead and try to close the gap in the championship. We are going in the right direction, and everybody is doing their maximum. I am convinced that if we carry on like this, our hard work will pay off."

Kovalainen - who admits that he is glad the race is at the Nurburgring - echoed his team-mate's sentiments.

"Everybody in the team knows that we have only just passed the halfway point of the season, and that there is still a long way to go," he pointed out, "The team has done a fantastic job to fix the problems we had at the start of the season, and I think we are all determined to show that we can bounce back. I still think that third place in the championship is achievable. It's going to be tough, but I believe we can do it!"
Ferrari - Felipe Massa (#5), Kimi Raikkonen (#6):

If any team heads to the Nurburgring with confidence this weekend, it will be Ferrari, which has taken the last two grands prix courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen and topped the last two group tests, at Silverstone and Spa. However, the Scuderia - which also won last year's European GP with Michael Schumacher - will also bear in mind that McLaren often provided the Finn with a contender at the circuit and will be looking to bounce back this weekend.

Team-mate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, is keen to redress the balance after seeing both of the last two races slip away from him.

"Some people have suggested that Silverstone was one of my best drives, and I guess they could be right, but I cannot consider it one of my best races at the moment," he lamented, "I enjoyed the driving and having a very good race from the back, but it was very negative because of what happened at the start and, in some ways, I could not enjoy it [because] it was a race where I should have been fighting for the win. When you look at the championship situation and how competitive it is this year, and then see so many points escaping from you, it's not possible to be happy.

"Now, we go to the Nurburgring, where I expect the F2007 will again be very competitive. Last year, I finished third and took my first ever F1 podium. Hopefully, this time, we can be back on the podium - but in a better position."

Honda - Jenson Button (#7), Rubens Barrichello (#8):

After the 'joy' of scoring a point at Magny-Cours, it was back to the doldrums for Honda at Silverstone, and the Brackley team is keen to get the second half of the season off to a flying start at the European Grand Prix.

With no testing at the venue, and a change from the Nurburgring's usual May date, the tenth round of the season will presents a unique challenge to Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The Briton is not a fan of the circuit, claiming that a lot rides on the approach to turn one, but Barrichello comes from the opposing camp and is looking forward to turning out there this weekend.

"The N?rburgring is a challenging circuit for the drivers and one that I particularly enjoy," the Brazilian admitted, "I won the grand prix here back in 2002, so I always feel good about returning and racing around here. I like the layout of the circuit and it has some great high-speed corners and interesting undulations. With the recent improvements to our car, we are now capable of knocking on the door of the points-scoring positions, so I am hoping to have a good race at the weekend."

Both Barrichello and Button will be putting their faith in the altest developments to roll off the Brackley production line, with further aerodynamic modifications topping the list.

"We used the test at Spa-Francorchamps last week to evaluate some new aero upgrades which we plan to use from the European Grand Prix onwards," senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto confirmed, "We struggled for balance at high speeds, which meant that our lap times were not good, but, on the positive side, we were one of few teams to experience little or no mechanical problems with the engine. Good levels of downforce are required at the Nurburgring, as the circuit has a range of low to high speed corners, and you also need good stability under braking. But we will be as aggressive as possible, aiming to score points."
BMW Sauber - Nick Heidfeld (#9), Robert Kubica (#10):

A lot has changed in a year, and BMW Sauber heads for home having established itself as a top three Formula One team, and the biggest opposition to Ferrari and McLaren.

Although it does not anticipate being able to fight for victory in the European Grand Prix, the team is confident that it will be able to maintain its position ahead of Renault in the pecking order. That in itself would be a step forward for the Munich/Hinwil squad, as Nick Heidfeld reflects.

"We didn't do so well there last year, and it would be great if we could get back among the Ferraris and McLarens at my home race this time around," he said, "Nowhere do so many of my fans come to cheer me on than at the N?rburgring. This support is fantastic, and I also have a lot of fond memories tied up in the circuit.

"The N?rburgring is very close to M?nchengladbach, where I was born and grew up, and I learnt to ride a bicycle at the 'Ring when I was three. In winter, we even went sledging on the Hohe Acht slopes, and the first time I drove a kart by myself was on the old karting track at the circuit - with a tyre and a blanket wedged behind my back so that I could reach the pedals!

"Since then, I've driven a lot of races on the N?rburgring and recorded victories in almost all the series I've competed in there - Formula Ford, F3 and F3000. In 2005, I took my first Formula One pole position in the Eifel mountains with BMW Williams and finished second in the race itself, so I enjoy going back."

Team-mate Robert Kubica is also familiar with the German venue, despite this weekend being his first Formula One race there.

"I have practically been racing at the circuit every year since 2001 and, because of this, I know it fairly well," the Pole confirmed, "I have to be honest and say I don't find the circuit spectacular, but this will be the only grand prix in Germany this year, and I am sure there will be a big crowd, with a lot of the people being fans of our team. I think it will be a good weekend and maybe, after that, my feelings for the track will change."

Toyota - Ralf Schumacher (#11), Jarno Trulli (#12):

Like BMW, Panasonic Toyota Racing will be on home ground this weekend, with the N?rburgring located just an hour's drive away from its factory in Cologne. With a large turnout from base expected at the circuit, the team is determined to take more points after another promising, but ultimately frustrating, race weekend at Silverstone, where Ralf Schumacher showed the potential of the TF107 by qualifying a season-best sixth, but neither he nor team-mate Jarno Trulli finished.

After the high-speed corners of Magny-Cours and Silverstone, the N?rburgring represents a return to medium downforce specification and, as with most races this season, the team brings an upgraded car to the race weekend, with small aerodynamic improvements fitted the British Grand Prix.

"At Silverstone, our level of performance was good - the best so far this season - but, obviously, we struggled to deliver a race result which corresponded to our level of our performance and that was disappointing," admitted senior general manager Pascal Vasselon, "We definitely hope to show the same level of performance at the N?rburgring. It's always nice to have our home race, we can feel the pressure and encouragement from our supporters in the grandstands and this is an additional motivation for the race team. Our goal for this weekend has to be to score points and see our drivers fight for the top six again.

"The track character is different because Silverstone is an extreme track in terms of tyre severity and average cornering speed. N?rburgring is more average in all aspects - in terms of downforce, as we will run medium downforce, in terms of braking stability and tyre usage. You have a bit of everything - you can be traction limited and front end limited. It is an average track but it doesn't mean that average is not interesting - it's a challenging track but without the special character of Silverstone."

Both Schumacher and Trulli have naturally said that they want to consign Silverstone to history, but keep the level of performance that they showed in qualifying.

"Silverstone was a weekend to forget to be honest," the Italian admitted, "We had a good opportunity to score points because the car was quick, as you can see from Ralf's great performance in qualifying. It was a shame that, on my car, I had no grip and was sliding a lot in the race. F1 is about many little things, so we have analysed the data from Silverstone and we will work on improving the set-up when practice starts on Friday. I am still optimistic for this weekend because I think the car definitely has potential and everyone is working very hard to get the best out of it."

Red Bull Racing - David Coulthard (#14), Mark Webber (#15):

Red Bull Racing's up and down year begins its second half with a trip to the equally rolling Nurburgring with the team still trying to get to grips with its reliability problems.

Fifth place for David Coulthard in Spain and seventh for Mark Webber in the US remain the only scoring finishes despite decent pace from the RB3, as gearbox gremlins continue to plague the Adrian Newey-penned car. Team principal Christian Horner has not given up on further top eight results, however,

"The RB3 has shown genuine pace, for example in both Monaco and then in Canada, and David had a competitive race in Barcelona finishing fifth and Mark got his first points of the season in Indy after a solid run to seventh," he reflected, "These performances have shown the potential of the car, but [the season] has been marred by a depressingly high number of retirements.

"Mechanically, the gearbox itself is fundamentally okay - the problems have stemmed from areas around it. Unfortunately, it has not been a case of dealing with just one issue to fix this problem. There have been several factors contributing to its lack of reliability this year. Every aspect of the gearbox has been reviewed and we are
aware of the need to get on top of it quickly.

"We are in an extremely competitive part of the pack. Having qualified in the top ten in the first seven races, we missed getting into the top ten at Silverstone by less than 0.1secs. At the moment, three tenths of a second puts you either at the front or the back of a group consisting of Renault, Honda, Toyota, Williams and ourselves, and it has become clear that Renault, Toyota and Honda, have made a step forward.

"We have some developments that we tested in Spa last week and a significant upgrade coming for Turkey, with a few new elements on the car at the Nurburgring, as we try to get the most out of RB3 and try and get back to the front of that group again. I think it's going to be very tight all through the rest of the season."

Williams - Nico Rosberg (#16), Alex Wurz (#17):

Last year's European Grand Prix saw Nico Rosberg climb from last on the grid to finish seventh in his home race to collect two points for the Williams team, and the German is keen to get back into the top eight after a couple of feisty but unrewarded races in France and Britain.

"The European Grand Prix is going to be good," the youngster insisted, "The German fans are really supportive and I'll have a lot of friends with me over the weekend. The track is cool and the car normally goes well there. I'm really looking forward to turning things around at this race and getting a good result because we need to start scoring more points."

Team-mate Alex Wurz will be making his first appearance at the Nurburgring with Williams and, despite recent optimism, is also on the look out for points to boost his season.

"Ever since I can remember, the N?rburgring has meant something special to our family," he said, "My grandfather used to take my father on trips there from Austria to watch the races on the Nordschleife, so there was always lots of talk about this crazy racetrack in our family. The new track layout requires a neutral set-up and, as a driver, you need to find a good rhythm in order to get the best lap time. It's going to be a great race and I hope that in the post-Schumacher era the German fans will still be as excited about Formula One as they were before."

Technical director Sam Michael is hoping that the current Williams chassis shows the sort of potential it has displayed on other 'medium speed' tracks in an effort to move to the front of a close-fought group including Red Bull, Toyota and Renault.

"N?rburgring is a track at which we are looking forward to seeing the performance of the FW29," he confirmed, "With such sustained lateral loading on the car, the tyres always get a hard time around this track, but the Bridgestone Potenza tyres we will have in Germany will be the medium and soft versions, two tyres that we have plenty of experience with. The gap between everyone is now so close that every half a tenth really counts."
Scuderia Toro Rosso - Vitantonio Liuzzi (#18), Scott Speed (#19):

Scuderia Toro Rosso were the subject of some subtle rumours regarding their future plans in Formula 1 with increasing pressure on Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi to start delivering.

With the likes of Sebastien Bourdais and Ralf Schumacher having been linked with their seats, Speed and Liuzzi will not have enjoyed suffering their second double retirement in a row and their fifth in nine races. Indeed, only twice have both cars seen the chequered flag this season, something team principal Franz Tost is desperate to improve upon as the Formula 1 season heads into its second-half.

"We still struggle with reliability and I hope we can get this under control from Budapest onwards. We know what our problems are and we have to make some design changes, which is why they cannot happen overnight.

"We also have to improve the performance of the car. Currently we are clearly behind our expectations. The main problem is downforce, particularly at the front end of the car. We will have a new front wing, but it is unlikely to be signed off before Turkey. On the mechanical side, we have some good ideas which we hope to incorporate into the car to improve its set-up and therefore its performance."

Furthermore, Tost admits both Speed and Liuzzi need to improve to retain their seats next season, but adds he believes both are capable of stronger performances than they have been showing.

"They need to improve. So far it has been difficult for both of them to get the most out of the car, especially in qualifying. There is room for improvement in every aspect of our team. But I believe that our group has potential and we can be successful.
Spyker F1 - Markus Winkelhock (#20), Adrian Sutil (#21):

After years of waiting patiently having earned his stripes in Formula 3 and the World Series by Renault, Markus Winkelhock - son of former F1 racer Manfred - will finally get this Formula 1 chance this weekend when he makes his debut for the Spyker team he currently tests for,

Although the decision to promote Winkelhock - for this race at least - makes sense given his extensive experience of racing at the Nurburgring in the past, the current DTM driver nonetheless comes to the team having had limited miles in the car, despite his status as their test driver.

Indeed, despite his surprise at being given the nod - over Christian Klien in particular - Winkelhock is keeping his aspirations for the weekend relatively modest.

"I was very surprised to get the call from Colin as I did not think that I would have this chance! But obviously I am very, very pleased to be able to race this weekend. It's now the only German race on the calendar, so I am excited to be make my race debut in front of so many German spectators.

"This weekend will be very special - it's my home Grand Prix, my debut, and I will have friends here supporting me, but I need to concentrate myself on the job and do the best I can. When you put your helmet on and get in the car you need to be 100% focussed on doing what you can. This is a great opportunity for me and I want to make the most of it."

Although overshadowed by the new arrival, this weekend arguably marks team-mate Adrian Sutil's biggest of the season as he too will be racing in front of his home fans for the first time. A good record at the Nurburgring, that includes victories in Formula 3, will make Sutil a very good yardstick for Winkelhock this weekend.

Super Aguri F1 - Takuma Sato (#22), Anthony Davidson (#23):

Super Aguri admit they have been rather baffled by their relative lack of pace since returning to Europe, both Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato struggling last time out at Silverstone, despite showing good promise in free practice.

As it happens, both drivers found themselves tussling with Toro Rosso and Spyker in the race before Davidson retired with suspension worries and Sato trundled home in 14th position.

Nonetheless, it perhaps signals just how far the team have come if they are disappointed not to be reaching the second stage of qualifying just a year from when they would have been over the moon to out-qualify just one other car.

Still, the aims remain the same as the team begin the second-half of the season, with technical director Mark Preston claiming Q2 is the ultimate target for them this weekend.

"We will concentrate on getting through to Q2 as this gives us the best chance to score more points, or at least race with our direct competitors in order to maintain our position in the Championship."


'Medium' is the word that best describes the Nurburgring and its tyre choices. A medium speed circuit that requires medium compound tyres, a variety of fast and slow corners means it is hard for Bridgestone to lean towards an aggressive compound. Here compromise is the key.

Taking place later than it has done in recent years, warmer temperatures are anticipated, but - much like in the UK - the adverse weather conditions currently afflicting much of Western Europe can potentially throw a curve ball.

"After the flat of the former airfield of Silverstone, we now have the undulations of the Nurburgring which reflect the Eifel region in which it is based. We know this circuit pretty well. Tyre grip, traction and braking performance are all of great importance, especially in sectors one and three.

"The biggest challenge is our decision to bring the soft compound Bridgestone Potenza, as all our experience is based on this circuit in the spring. We will have to see if our predictions are correct. The Eifel region can produce unpredictable weather, so it's a little bit of an unknown for us. I believe we've made the right choice, but you never know with the Nurburgring!"

Race Distance: 60 laps - Circuit Length 3.199 miles (5.148km)

Germany's Nurburgring is decidedly tame by comparison to its intimidating 14 mile, 174 corner predecessor - the world famous Nordschleife. Further changes to the old track came in 2002 when the first turn was reprofiled to cut into the infield and around a new stadium section, slowing the track even more, but yielding another overtaking spot.

The circuit remains a fairly high downforce track that is light on both brakes and tyres. To achieve a competitive lap time here requires all the normal chassis attributes: good traction (particularly out of the hairpins), good chassis balance and stability under braking, and the best possible compromise between downforce and straight-line speed.

The Nurburgring has the full mixture of slow through to high-speed corners, from the revised first turn, hairpin and chicane, to the double medium-speed 'S' bends and the very high speed 'S' after the hairpin. It also features a lot of undulation change, which is unusual for most modern circuits. As the circuit is situated close to the Eifel Mountains, weather can often play a major role in the outcome of races.

After a rather anti-climatic British Grand Prix from the patriotic point of view, Lewis Hamilton is arguably better positioned to reclaim his spot at the top of the podium this weekend at the Nurburgring. His adoptive home when he raced in the Formula 3 Euroseries, Hamilton's envious record at the circuit in other formulae makes him a good favourite.

Nonetheless, Kimi Raikkonen is in outstanding form and a third straight win is necessary if he is to make up ground on the championship leaders - plus it would be sweet justice for him to avenge is agonising 2005 disaster... Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are also likely to be gunning for victory.


Michael Schumacher got the home crowds up on their feet twice in 2006 with victories at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, although both were achieved under different circumstances.

Victory at the Nurburgring was reached after spending the majority of the race tucked up behind Alonso, the Ferrari driver using some superior in-laps to pass his rival through the pits and claim his second win of the season.

Alonso lumbered home a disappointed second, ahead of Felipe Massa, the Brazilian scoring his first podium in Formula 1. Kimi Raikkonen followed closely in fourth, with Rubens Barrichello, Giancarlo Fisichella - recovering from a poor grid slot -, Nico Rosberg and Jacques Villeneuve rounding out the point scoring positions.

1. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari 60 laps 01:35:58.765
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +3.7
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +4.4
4. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +4.8
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda-Honda +72.5
6. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault-Renault +74.1
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Cosworth +74.5
8. Jacques Villeneuve Canada BMW Sauber +89.3

Hockenheim was far more of a demonstration by Schumacher on what would be his final performance on home soil. Simply driving away from pole position, Schumacher was shadowed over the line by team-mate Massa for a perfect result.

Kimi Raikkonen had led early on, but only by virtue of a mistake in qualifying that left his McLaren ridiculously under-fuelled. Nonetheless, the Finn still held on for a strong third place finish, holding off a racy Jenson Button in what proved to be the result that turned Honda's season around.

Renault meanwhile were well off the pace whilst embroiled in a technical row with their rivals over mass dampers. With the devices removed, fifth and sixth for Alonso and Fisichella proved their worst combined result of the year.

Jarno Trulli was seventh in the improving Toyota, while Christian Klien recorded his first point since the season opener in eighth.

1. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari 67 01:27:51.693
2. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +0.7
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +13.2
4. Jenson Button Britain Honda-Honda +18.8
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +23.7
6. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault-Renault +24.8
7. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +26.5
8. Christian Klien Austria Red Bull-Ferrari +48.1



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