Look to the hairpin
Hockenheim offers a double flashpoint on the opening lap, with the usual charge off the line to the first corner followed a few corners later by the long drag into the Turn 6 hairpin. When the red lights go out, the challenge is for Fernando Alonso at least not to lose any ground from the dirty side of the grid.
Although Mark Webber was able to jump into the lead from the same position in the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, Alonso isn't confident of being able to repeat the trick, saying "I think the dirty side was better at Silverstone." If he's slow away, that could give Felipe Massa the opportunity to lead the Ferrari attack.
Then comes the run to the hairpin. Although the Renault-propelled Red Bulls are well known not to be at their best on the straights, the saving grace for Sebastian Vettel could be the battle raging behind him. The main speed trap lies just before the braking point for the hairpin, and the Ferraris were giving away nearly 10km/h to the leading McLaren of Jenson Button (317.5km/h). Chances are, if Alonso and Massa are Vettel's closest challengers heading to Turn 6, they'll be more concerned with repulsing the advances of the silver machines than trying to take the lead.
Vettel's home run
Sebastian Vettel has yet to displace Michael Schumacher in the affections of his countrymen. An eighth grand prix win, and a first on home soil, would go some way to shifting Germany's attention to the very real possibility that the driver dubbed "the new Schuey" might just be on his way to becoming world champion.
"Michael is the one that everyone looks up to in Germany and that won't change for quite a long time," said Vettel after qualifying. A modest answer, but you might find things changing a lot sooner than that.
Two stops unlikely
Talk in the build-up to the race was of a multi-stop race courtesy of Bridgestone allocating its softest and hardest tyre compounds. Hopes of a Canadian Grand Prix-style tyre shredder have not been realised, and it's unlikely that there will be many repeat visitors to the pits. There are some wild cards though. Should it rain before the race and clean up the track, the soft tyres might not last the 10-15 laps that most are hoping for. This might give those starting on the primes - which does not include any of the top 10 qualifiers, the chance to climb the order as Jenson Button did at Silverstone.
Michael Schumacher remains the centre of attention © LAT
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher races on home soil for the first time since 2006, on four-wheels at least, but his qualifying performance wasn't the triumphant homecoming he was doubtless hoping for. Falling in Q2 was embarrassing, but it's worth noting that team-mate Nico Rosberg was only eight thousandths of a second faster despite making the cut.
Even so, with Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg also ahead of him on the grid, qualifying fourth in the German driver class is not what the 41-year-old came back to Formula 1 for. With the Mercedes not looking like a top six threat, even a small clutch of points would constitute a successful day.
Webber in the mix
One of the classic accusations levelled at Mark Webber is that, although he can dominate from the front, he's not so hot when mixing it up in the pack. His clash with Heikki Kovalainen at Valencia hasn't helped allay that impression, but an error on what should have been his pole position shot lap leaves him fourth on the grid with every opportunity to prove those doubters that remain wrong.
With the McLarens occupying row three, there's every chance that Red Bull can make up serious ground in the championship, and Webber will need to pick up a place or three if he's to avoid losing the intra-team initiative in the drivers' championship to Vettel.
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