Home Sports Hamilton’s familiarity makes him favourite for European GP

Hamilton’s familiarity makes him favourite for European GP


Nurburg (Germany) : After a rather anti-climatic British Grand Prix from the patriotic point of view, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren 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, writes Sky Sports News.

Nonetheless, Ferrari's 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 his agonising 2005 disaster.

Fernando Alonso of McLAren and Felipe Massa of Ferrari are also likely to be gunning for victory.

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.

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.

That is unlikely to detract from the battle for supremacy on track, however, with McLaren fighting a rearguard action against a resurgent 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 Alonso and points leader Hamilton will looking to give the Three-Pointed Star a home win to preserve their advantage at the head of the standings.

Spyker test driver Markus Winkelhock will make his long-awaited Formula One 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 become a strong candidate by testing for Spyker at Spa.

Second and third positions in the British Grand Prix last time out saw McLaren retain the lead of the constructors' championship, with Hamilton and Alonso both keeping their 1-2 positions in the drivers' standings.

Eighty years on from Mercedes' first win at the Nürburgring – 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.

If any team heads to the Nurburgring with confidence this weekend, it will be Ferrari, who have taken the last two grands prix courtesy Raikkonen and topped the last two group tests, at Silverstone and Spa.

However, the Scuderia – who 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 Massa, meanwhile, is keen to redress the balance after seeing both of the last two races slip away from him – his eventual fifth place at the British Grand Prix coming after problems on the grid forced him to start from the pit lane.

'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 make it hard for Bridgestone to lean towards an aggressive compound.

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.