E HAD THE INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY and the imagination to handle both the tactical and the strategic that and a clear-eyed ruthlessness when

it mattered. Rudolf Caracciola was a man who could deliver regardless of conditions in the 1930s he was the accepted regenmeister (rain master), after all. That and the embodiment of speed and consistency. All of which would explain his three European Drivers’ Championship titles.

Yet his strike rate at the NOrburgring was something else entirely. ‘Carratch’ won the inaugural race in June 1927 for Mercedes-Benz; it was the first of an incomparable nine victories from 18 stark at the Eifel circuit. Yet he had his challengers, not least archrival Bernd Rosemeyer whose four-wheeled career continued to rocket with three straight wins prior to the 1937 German Grand Prix. And it was the Auto Union pilot who scorched to pole for that race with Hermann Lang and von Brauchitsch alongside him on the front row. ‘Rudi’ lined up behind them. Predictably Rosemeyer put in a string of searing laps at the start but an off on the fourth tour meant he had to pit to repair the damage and replace a wheel. Caracciola assumed the lead from von Brauchitsch, Lang and Richard Seaman. Tragically, the latter was involved in an accident with Auto Union man Ernst von Delius who later succumbed to his injuries. And while baffles raged down the order not least with the recovering Rosemeyer and Tazio Nuvolari over third, Caracciola was never headed, with von Brauchitsch

following him home. It wasn’t a flamboyant drive, but it was a masterclass in cool-headed precision. It was also Caracciola’s fifth German Grand Prix triumph (four with Mercedes, one with Alfa Romeo).

That he would go on to claim a sixth German GP at the ‘Ring in 1939 was entirely appropriate; it merely bookended his remarkable 13-year spell as the original and greatest Ringmeister. Sadly, as Europe descended into hell, it would be his final win and the last German Grand Prix for 11 years.