- Round 11 of the 2020 Formula 1 season rolls into the Nurburgring in Germany, for the Eifel Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton eyes take-two shot at 91st win, as Briton retains 44-point championship lead
- F1 returns to iconic circuit for first time since 2013, with 20,000 fans permitted to attend
NURBURGRING, GERMANY – As Formula 1 makes its return to the iconic Nurburgring this weekend, will it be take two and history for Lewis Hamilton at the Eifel Grand Prix?
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Return to Nurburgring
After this season’s grand tour of iconic circuits, Round 11 of the 2020 Formula 1 season puts the icing on 2020 cake, returning to the iconic Nurburgring for the Eifel Grand Prix this weekend.
Following Valtteri Bottas‘ win at Sochi last time out, F1 moves back to the European continent and makes its first trip to Germany this season and the heart of the Rhineland.
The weekend will also mark the biggest departure for sport since the beginning of the pandemic, with 20,000 fans permitted to socially distance at the Nurburgring.
Not only that, but Ferrari Academy Drivers drivers Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott are set to make something of a baptism of fire, making their debuts in practice, deputising for Antonio Giovinazzi and Romain Grosjean respectively.
Take two for Hamilton?
Denied his chance to equal Michael Schumacher‘s 91 wins in Russia, this weekend gives Hamilton the chance for a second take at drawing level with the German’s record.
After an uncharacteristic moment of haziness for the 35-year-old, Hamilton finished third at Sochi, after a incurring two five-second penalties following a practice start infringement at the end of the pit lane on the way to the grid.
That presents a trip to Germany as quite the motivation for the six-time world champion.
On the same home track Schumacher won on six times during his career, the Briton is one of just two active drivers in the Paddock who have claimed victory at the Nurburgring.
With Sebastian Vettel the only other driver to win here – the last time F1 raced here in 2013 – Hamilton’s win in the shadows of the Eifel mountains twelve years ago in just his second season, still remains a special one for the Mercedes man.
Should he take his second victory here on Sunday however, 2008 will very much be eclipsed.
Mercedes return positive test
Whilst Hamilton eyes his next piece of motorsport history, his hopes will have rather been chastened by Thursday’s news that a Mercedes team member tested has positive coronavirus.
Though the identity of the person affected has been kept anonymous, it is not Hamilton or Bottas.
The news comes after last week, when F1 announced the highest number of positive tests in a week since the season resumed, with 10 personnel contracting the virus post-Sochi.
It is thought looser restrictions in Russia than in many countries in western Europe, could be responsible the double-figure Covid-19 results.
Despite having operated within teams using a series of ‘bubbles’, regular testing, and mandatory mask wearing in the paddock since July, it is a careful reminder of the ongoing threat, which will make teams once again sit up in Germany.
Memories of ‘Green Hell’
Making its long-awaited return to the F1 calendar, this weekend will again see the Nurburgring nostalgia machine go into overdrive.
Once feared and loved in equal measure, the infamous track in the Rhineland is now a much safer proposition after many modifications and straightening, having moved away from the Nordschleife configuration also, to the modern GP-Strecke track.
Nevertheless, the Nurburgring has claimed the lives of many an ago in its’ storied annuls.
Indeed, it was Jackie Stewart – twice winner here in the 1960’s and 70’s – who dubbed the Nurburgring ‘The Green Hell’, following his 1968 German GP win amidst driving rain and thick fog.
As a regular fixture on the F1 rota, most recently the Nurburgring had rotated hosting duties with Hockenheim between 2008 and 2014, before the German GP rights were lost in returning to Nurburg for the years following in 2015 and 2017.
Home to the European GP between 1999 and 2007, the first Eifel GP this time around sees its third spot on the GP race list.
As the fourth race this season to be named commemoratively, Round 11 is named after the neighbouring Eifel mountains to the west.
Race weekend is forecast for cool and wet conditions – in sharp contrast the usual baking summer climes – which could come as a shock to the system for both drivers and the cars themselves.
Though not likely to come close to the ferocious conditions of some 50 years ago, an Autumn trip round the Nurburgring will still be a unique, and no less testing examination.
The Eifel Grand Prix takes place at the Nurburgring in Germany this weekend.
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