This weekend is round 11 of the 2019 Formula One World Championship, which takes us to Germany, specifically the Hockenheimring, one of two circuits to have hosted the German Grand Prix in modern times. The other is the grand prix circuit of the Nürburgring, though a race hasn't been held there since new management took over in 2014.
The Hockenheimring, like many of the European circuits, is steeped in tradition. While the 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 Hockenheimring is currently a cauldron with temperatures hovering close to 104 degrees, though things are expected to cool down in time for Saturday's qualifying when peak temperatures should over around 80 degrees. Some rain could also show up during Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.
Overtaking tends to be tricky so pit stop strategy could make an important difference. Pirelli has nominated its C2, C3 and C4 tires.
During some early Friday practice, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were the fastest, with Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton, racing in a white livery to mark Mercedes' 125th year of motorsport, running the third fastest. His teammate Valtteri Bottas ran into the gravel at one point but was able to continue his session.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton leads the 2019 Drivers' Championship with 223 points. Bottas is second with 184 points and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen is third with 136 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 407 points versus the 243 of Ferrari and 191 of Red Bull. Last year's winner in Germany was Hamilton, driving for Mercedes. He claimed the victory after Vettel crashed out in the closing stages.