<
>

Can Ferrari revive its season?

Focus on... Ferrari

Ferrari arrives at Hockenheim in something of a crisis. Several days after team boss Maurizio Arrivabene called on critics and the media to let Ferrari "work in peace" amid mounting rumours of staff changes, it parted company with James Allison. The highly-respected technical director played a pivotal role in Ferrari's 2015 resurgence, resulting in three wins, but his SF16-H has so far failed to live up to lofty pre-season expectations this year and is yet to record a victory.

The tragic loss of Allison's wife earlier this year undoubtedly contributed to the mutual parting of ways, giving him more time to spend with his family. His departure not only comes at a crucial time in 2016, with Red Bull chasing down the Prancing Horse, but also as it ramps up development on its 2017 car. While it is unlikely Allison will be away from a top team for long it leaves a considerable hole for Ferrari at a time it needs unity and a clear path back to winning races and championships.

F1 needed Ferrari to mount a serious title challenge this season -- the two-horse race developing between the Mercedes drivers was not supposed to happen again. Barring a minor miracle, the best Ferrari can now hope for this year is second in the championship ahead of a resurgent Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari to emulate his hero Michael Schumacher and win championships in red but at the moment his main focus has to be on salvaging what he and the team can from 2016 -- starting in front of his home fans in Germany.

In need of a win

As outlined above, Ferrari is in a desperate situation. With a four-week summer break coming up, a win would at least quieten some of the dissenting voices as Ferrari attempts to regroup ahead of Spa and its homecoming at Monza.

In need of points

Jolyon Palmer should have finished in the top ten in Hungary, but blew his chances with a bizarre spin. With Renault delaying its decision on the 2017 driver line-up -- and with Esteban Ocon still rumoured for a drive -- Palmer has time to save his seat with some strong drives but may well have squandered his best opportunity. Making amends in Germany is a must for the Briton.

ESPN prediction

There's nothing quite like Lewis Hamilton on a roll, and that's exactly what he's on right now. More than that, he seems more comfortable in himself and in his driving than ever before in his career. Nico Rosberg needs to stop the rot but ESPN is backing Hamilton to win again at Hockenheim and retain the championship lead going into the August break.

Betting

Lewis Hamilton remains the bookies' favourite at 8/11. Interestingly, the next two best bets after the Mercedes drivers are split between Ferrari and Red Bull - 8/1 for Sebastian Vettel and 14/1 for Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Jolyon Palmer is 8/1 to make amends for Hungary and record a point.

Weather

Hockenheim is another weekend where rain will play a part. Showers are forecast for Friday, while Saturday looks likely to be mostly dry - according to F1 weather service Ubimet. Sunday could be interesting, with the threat of scattered showers throughout the day.

A lap with...Romain Grosjean

"After the start-finish line, the first corner is the most exciting one. It's a very high-speed, right-hand side corner. Normally you brake just a little bit, just one gear downshift, and then you're on a straight line. Turn two with tricky braking and certainly very tricky throttle application. You're turning from right to left to go on the main straight.

"You really want to go on the power as early as you can to get a good straight line. Big braking for the hairpin next. Coming back to the Mercedes corner, a right-hand side corner flat out, then braking to the 110 degree left-hand side corner. Again, there's a challenging throttle application there as you're turning right straight after, just about flat. Then entering the stadium, there's a bit of braking to the right-hand side, very high-speed corner.

"The Sachskurve is a very high-banked corner, left hairpin. It's quite open, though, with a few lines through it. Then you go to the last couple of corners - they're quite famous. You try to carry as much speed as you can to the first one, and go as flat as you can for the second one to get a good lap time."

Tyres

Available compounds: Medium, soft, super-soft

Tyre facts:

• There's a bit of everything, with fast straights as well as a more technical stadium section.

• Weather is hard to predict: on Saturday in 2014 ambient temperatures peaked at 38 degrees.

• There's a very smooth track surface in Hockenheim, which helps to limit wear and degradation.

• It's important to look after the rear tyres, as there is lots of acceleration out of slow corners.

• As well as traction, braking is another key aspect: tyres are subject to maximum deceleration.

• Turn 5 puts a lot of energy through the tyres: a fast left-hander taken almost as a straight line.