A vision of sheer speed that Clark wouldn’t have believed
Heat building upon sun-bleached seats, a retro-feel Hockenheim, quiet on this Friday before the Dutch arrive. As at Ricard, it’s as if Formula 1 is dipping into its recent past, giving a suggestion of reverting to a saner model. But these particular seats, in the stadium section, are seeing F1 for the last time. After this event the stands are due to be demolished for a new Porsche Driving Centre. Nothing stays the same. Out in the forest the trees have now fully reclaimed where the old track once ran, just tweeting birds and a small unidentified clearing where Jim Clark ended his time on earth. But Mobil Kurve, Turn 11, the right-handed entry into the stadium, is much as Clark once knew it, give or take a bit of painted kerb. But the speed at which it’s now possible to take it would have seemed to him just an impossible dream. This is the first time that this generation of aerodynamically enhanced wide cars, introduced in 2017, has tackled this turn; there’s no braking, only a momentary throttle lift after turning in, before getting back on full gas in sixth, even before the apex. That’s how, say, a Force India or a Sauber, takes it, anyway. But listen now to the thwack of tyres over kerb serrations from the previous corner, an extended engine note and into spectacular view comes the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, outrageous in his disdain for the turn, aggressive turn-in, flat in sixth, no lift, continuing to accelerate all the way through, out onto the exit kerbs, underbody sparks flying through the raised dust, then an upchange and a couple of seconds of more acceleration before a downchange for Sachs loop.
Boy are the Dutch going to like that when they arrive.