The European summer weather is expected to hit the Hockenheim with a Wagnerian thunderstorm or two as a prelude to the German Grand Prix. Even if it should clear in time for the race itself, there is often a sultry atmosphere about the paddock around this time of year.
The beginning of August is the time that speculation usually begins on 'who goes where' for the forthcoming season. However this year it is more a case of 'is anybody moving at all?'
All the top teams' line-ups will look remarkably familiar for the 2011 season. McLaren are sticking with Button and Hamilton, Ferrari have firm contracts with Alonso and Massa, likewise Mercedes with Schumacher and Rosberg.
With in-season testing, the role of third driver is much more high profile. It was an accepted career route for an upcoming driver such as Fernando Alonso to race for a season in a team further down the grid (in his case Minardi), then become a test driver with a front-running team (Renault) before graduating to the race seat. Now the lack of on-track testing means that 'third drivers' spend their time driving high-tech simulators rather than sitting in a racing car. It is not just rookies. Driver's careers seem to be stalling too when they want to move up from mid-field teams.
Force India's Adrian Sutil is perhaps the prime example. The talented German would normally be looking beyond his existing team at this stage of his career, but at the moment his only option would seem to be alongside Robert Kubica at Renault. A seeming rotating door at Hispania Racing has seen both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok heading in and out, to make way for Sakon Yamamoto. He is reported to be paying the team US $ 2.4 million per race for the privilege.
At this rate watch out for the team offering a seat on e-bay!
(Steve Slater is an F1 race commentator on STAR Sports’ coverage of the Formula One).