After skipping things last year, the German Grand Prix is back on the calendar as round 11 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, running this weekend at the Hockenheimring.

While the circuit's layout has changed beyond recognition since its original flat-out incarnation of the 1930s, a distinct flavor of the traditional challenge remains, with long straights as well as the newer and more technical Motodrom section, where the cars negotiate a series of tight corners in front of the main grandstand.

The current layout was formulated by renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke and measures just over 2.8 miles. Grip levels tends to be low due to a smooth surface, and also making the circuit a challenge is the variable weather you often get in Germany. The current forecast for Sunday's race calls for cloudy skies and warm conditions.

Overtaking tends to be tricky so pit stop strategy could make an important difference. Pirelli has nominated its medium, soft and ultrasoft compounds for the weekend.

During some early Friday practice, Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo was setting the fastest times, albeit with Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton right on his tail. Unfortunately for Ricciardo, a power unit change means he'll be starting the race at the back of the grid.

Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel leads the 2018 Drivers' Championship with 171 points. Hamilton is second with 163 points and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen is third with 116 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari leads with 287 points followed by Mercedes with 267 points and Red Bull with 199 points. The previous winner of the German Grand Prix was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.

In other F1 news, Mercedes confirmed Friday that Valtteri Bottas will stick with the team in 2019 and has the option for a further season in 2020. The announcement comes a day after Mercedes signed Lewis Hamilton on for two more seasons.