Sunday’s German Grand Prix will offer Formula 1 championship contenders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton one final battle before the summer break.
The two Mercedes drivers have shared 10 victories so far this season, but their fight has featured a number of flashpoints that only acted to stoke the rivalry between them.
Rosberg has home pride to play for this weekend as he looks to delight the local fans at Hockenheim, many of whom will be hoping for a repeat of his victory in 2014.
The German bagged pole position at Hamilton’s expense on Saturday, continuing his hot streak across the course of the weekend that has seen him lead every session thus far.
However, there are only points for Sunday – and with six separating the Mercedes drivers at the summit of the drivers’ championship, this could be a big race in defining the title battle.
The German Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.
Here’s what to watch for in Sunday’s race.
2016 German Grand Prix – What to watch for
Will Nico and Lewis play nice?
The title fight between Hamilton and Rosberg has been notably absent of many on-track scraps in 2016. Both drivers have enjoyed big slices of luck, but when it comes to going toe-to-toe, Hamilton has enjoyed the upper hand, as seen in Hungary and Austria.
The last thing Mercedes will want before the summer break is another fall-out between its drivers, ramping up the pressure on both Hamilton and Rosberg to play nice. Rosberg’s downfall in 2014 was feeling hard-done-by before the summer break, over which he stewed before losing his cool at Spa. He cannot afford a repeat this year.
Keep an eye on the Mercedes boys heading into the fast first corner.
Red Bull eyes P2 in the constructors’ championship
With the engine woes of 2015 now a distant memory, Red Bull looks set to overhaul Ferrari in the constructors’ championship this weekend and deal another blow to the Italian marque’s hopes of a late-season revival.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen locked out the second row of the grid for the third race in a row on Saturday. Although Hungary proved that Ferrari is more of a force on Sunday, Red Bull will fancy its chances of picking up another podium finish behind the Mercedes duo yet again.
Just a point separates Red Bull and Ferrari heading into the German Grand Prix – will the tables turn at Hockenheim?
Tire strategy key at Hockenheim
This weekend’s race looks set to balance finely between a two and three-stopper, giving teams a challenge when it comes to deciding strategy. It could be that safety cars or Virtual Safety Cars prompt the pit walls to move on the fly, taking advantage of any incidents on-track.
Pirelli predicts that a three-stop strategy is quickest, comprising three super-soft stints and one on the soft tire. However, a two-stop strategy is the next quickest, minimizing pit time and offering track position – although it would leave drivers open to being overtaken towards the end of each stint.
Open fight to be fourth-quickest continues
With Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari clear at the front, the battle to be the fourth-quickest team has been raging on for some races now. Williams, Force India, McLaren, Toro Rosso and even Haas all appear to be in the mix, setting things up for a thrilling fight in the midfield on Sunday.
Haas is in particular need of points after a difficult run during its debut F1 season, recording just one top-10 finish in the last seven races. Esteban Gutierrez starts 11th after his season-best qualifying.
Another man in need of a boost is Daniil Kvyat, who admitted after qualifying 19th that his current slump seems “never ending”. Life after Red Bull has hit the young Russian hard.
Heading into the summer on a high is something all teams will be keen to do. There’s lots to be gained on Sunday.
2016 German Grand Prix – Starting Grid
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4. Max Verstappen Red Bull
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India*
9. Sergio Perez Force India
10. Felipe Massa Williams
11. Esteban Gutierrez Haas
12. Jenson Button McLaren
13. Fernando Alonso McLaren
14. Jolyon Palmer Renault
15. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso*
16. Kevin Magnussen Renault
17. Pascal Wehrlein Manor
18. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
19. Rio Haryanto Manor
20. Romain Grosjean Haas*
21. Felipe Nasr Sauber
22. Marcus Ericsson Sauber