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Where are we going this week?

AFTER six consecutive intercontinental races (Pacific, Japan, Australia, Australia, Brazil and Argentina) the F1 circus will gather in Europe once again - with the familiar traveling circus of motorhomes and trucks.

But if the atmosphere will be homely, the weather is not likely to be very nice as the Eifel Mountains in April are quite capable of producing snowy conditions. An F3000 race on the same weekend back in 1985 had to be canceled because of snow.

The Nurburgring was once the greatest racing circuit in the world. Opened in 1927, "The Ring" originally featured two circuits which could be used together or independently. The Nordschleife (North Loop) was 14.2 miles in length while the Sudschleife (South Loop) could claim only 4.8-miles.

The Ring was a track where skill would sometimes overcome superior machinery as happened in 1935 when Tazio╩Nuvolari scored a breathtaking victory for Alfa Romeo over the mighty German marques Mercedes and AutoUnion. And it was also the site of Juan-Manuel Fangio's greatest drive to win in 1957.

It was inevitable that safety would finally force The Ring to close and the final blow came in August 1976 when Niki Lauda crashed his Ferrari and was badly burned.

Grand Prix racing moved to Hockenheim. Other forms of international racing went on for six more years before the local authorities came up with a vast budget to build the new Nurburgring, which was finished in 1984. F1 visited the new track that year and again in August 1985, but commercial disputes meant that F1 did not return until last October when Michael╩Schumacher's success brought Germany a European GP. Schumacher duly won but it will be a lot harder for him this╩year...

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