The German event marks the start of the second half of the two championships in which McLaren presently holds a solid lead. In the drivers’, Lewis Hamilton has 12 points in hand over his team-mate Fernando Alonso. They are followed by the Ferrari drivers with Kimi RaÏkkönen now 1 point ahead of Felipe Massa after the Finn’s 2 wins on the trot in Great Britain and France.

They are, however, 18 and 19 points behind the young Englishman. In the constructors’ title chase McLaren is 25 points in front of the Scuderia. Even if Ferrari were to score a double on Sunday and neither McLaren saw the chequered flag the Woking team would retain its lead. The ING Renault F1 Team drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen, are in seventh and eighth places respectively in the drivers’ championship, while the team holds fourth spot behind BMW in the constructors’.

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Overall, Ferrari has been the favourite since Melbourne and this weekend should be no different; especially as the red cars have scored a couple of dominant victories on the trot that could so easily have been consecutive doubles had not Massa’s engine stalled on the grid at Silverstone. After 3 wins in succession Hamilton and Alonso have not been able to match the pace of the Ferraris since Indianapolis. So one of the question marks hanging over this weekend’s race is: will the McLarens be able to turn the tables on Ferrari? If not, the championships will be relaunched.

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In free practice and qualifying the Renaults have nearly always been as quick as - and sometimes quicker - than the Bmw’s but it has often been a different story in the grand prix. The team’s aim this weekend is to match the pace of its no.1 rival over a lap, and then in the race itself, adopt a rhythm that enables the cars to stay in close contact and hopefully finish ahead of the Bmw’s when the chequered flag falls.

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Behind the top 4 the battle for points is extremely closely fought. Toyota, Red Bull Racing and Williams have swapped positions race after race, so it is difficult to judge which of these teams will enjoy an advantage at the Nürburgring. In the Red Bull Racing camp, whose cars are powered by Renault, the team is betting on a major aero evolution for Budapest in 2 weeks time, and is hoping for improved reliability thanks to revised mechanical elements.

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On Monday of next week, Geoff Willis, the new technical director will start work and lend Adrian Newey a helping hand. This could prove the turning point in the outcome of the battle for fifth place in the constructors’ championship.

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