Germany, a happy hunting ground for the Reds

Germany, a happy hunting ground for the Reds

A good track record can’t make your car go faster, but a quick look at the statistics seems to indicate that Germany has looked kindly on Ferrari: it has taken no less than 26 wins from the 73 Grands Prix held on German soil, 59 of them in the German Grand Prix, 12 in the European Grand Prix and two in the Luxembourg Grand Prix. Only Italy has proved equally successful for Ferrari with an identical number of wins made up of 18 in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and 8 from the San Marino Grand Prix run at Imola. 14 of the 26 victories in Germany came at the Nurburgring circuit, nine of them as the national race and five when it was deemed to be the Old Continent’s race.

The Nurburgring track is indelibly linked to the dramatic accident that befell Niki Lauda on the second lap of the 1976 race, an incident that is etched in the collective memories of Formula 1 fans. The accident marked the end of the Nordschleife, the original version of the circuit, as a Formula 1 venue. The incident is a key scene in the soon to be released “Rush,” the film directed by Ron Howard, which follows that year’s duel between the Austrian driver and Englishman James Hunt. The Grand Prix was absent from the Eifel mountains until 1984 when it first took place on the more modern layout, certainly in terms of its length, given it is under 5 kilometres. However, it was not until 1995 that it became a more permanent fixture, hosting the race until 2007, after which it has alternated with Hockenheim since 2008, as the home to the German Grand Prix, the race that Ferrari has won more times, 21, than any other in its history.

Fernando Alonso has been first past the flag here on two occasions: the first in 2005 with Renault, the second in 2007 with McLaren. On the latter occasion, the win involved a spat between the Spaniard and his current team-mate Felipe Massa, just prior to the podium ceremony. The previous year, these two also met in the same room behind the podium, but on that occasion, the man in the spotlight was Michael Schumacher who had just taken his fifth and final win at the Nurburgring. Nevertheless, it was an important day for Felipe, as it was the first ever podium finish of his Formula 1 career. That 2006 victory, was Ferrari’s last at this track: in 2009, Felipe finished third and in 2011 Fernando was second. Things seemed to go much better in Hockenheim: Schumacher won the two races on his home soil in his final year as a Ferrari man, while Alonso has won twice from two starts in 2010 and 2012, since he’s been at the wheel of a Ferrari. In some ways the last win was symbolic, although for reasons not linked to sport: just as the Old Continent was going through a very critical point in the economic crisis, coming out on top in the backyard of the major German motor manufacturers in the country with the most solid economic base was a car built in Italy, designed by a Greek engineer and driven by a Spaniard…

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