Hochheim am Main - Less than two weeks after an acrimonious
aftermath to the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton will this weekend bid to
wreck Sebastian Vettel's homecoming at Hockenheim just as the German ruined his
own carnival at Silverstone.
As the Formula One world championship heads to its half-way
mark and a simmering rivalry shows hints of boiling over, championship leader
Vettel has a chance to land another telling blow for Ferrari as Hamilton's
Mercedes team, also on home soil, seek to recover their consistency.
Vettel leads Hamilton by eight points after his British
triumph and would dearly love another success, in front of his family, friends
and fans, to ensure he heads into the European summer break with a clear
That would give satisfaction, too, to Ferrari team chief
Maurizio Arrivabene who, after the British race, declared that Mercedes should
have been ashamed of remarks made about Ferrari.
Mercedes technical director James Allison was quoted as
suggesting that opening lap accidents in France and Britain, that had seen
Ferrari cars collide with Mercedes, could be explained only as "deliberate
Little more was said once the dust had settled and defending
four-time champion Hamilton had described his own outburst, after Kimi
Raikkonen had crashed into him, as "dumb".
But that brief war of words signalled tensions between the
two teams and their drivers as they fight for points and the initiative in this
year's yo-yo title race.
While Vettel, who was born in nearby Heppenheim, has never
won at Hockenheim and only once in Germany - at the Nurburgring - while
Hamilton won at the Baden-Wurttemberg circuit in 2016 and is seeking his fourth
German triumph overall.
Following some unexpectedly off-key performances in recent
races, Mercedes badly need to bounce back.
"Going to Hockenheim always feels like coming
home," said team chief Toto Wolff.
"It's only about a 90-minutes’ drive from out Daimler
headquarters in Stuttgart.
"We will fight hard to not only put on a good show for
our friends and fans in Hockenheim, but also get the result that they will be
Wolff was a downcast figure at Silverstone after Ferrari
romped to victory, but has since reviewed Mercedes' overall showing in the
unprecedented triple header of races in France, Austria and Britain.
"We didn't score as many points in the triple-header as
we had hoped," he said.
"A lot of that was down to our own mistakes. However,
there is a silver lining to this.
"While we didn't maximise on points, we did bring the
quickest car to all three races."
He added that Mercedes had had a "decent first
half" as they head into the 11th race on the 21-race calendar, but had
"left points on the table and had to do damage limitation more often than
As Wolff rallied his team, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo
suggested that they no longer enjoyed the supremacy of previous seasons and
were looking vulnerable.
"They are not as dominant as they have been the last
few years," said the Red Bull driver.
"That was inevitably going to start to mellow out at
some point. I still think they are the overall toughest package to beat on the
grid, but for sure they've shown some signs of weaknesses in some areas.
"Compared to how they've been, they look vulnerable,
but in the big scheme of things they are a strong team and difficult to
The Australian and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen may
emerge as challengers on the modern Hockenheim ring - no longer the high-speed
power track following an overhaul in 2002.
But it is expected that Vettel, back at the circuit where he
saw his first F1 race as a boy, will be scrapping with Hamilton as the two
four-time champions lock horns again.