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Struggling Sebastian Vettel hoping for home comforts at Hockenheim

Spare a thought for Sebastian Vettel this weekend, as he and Ferrari hope to push Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes out of the spotlight and off the top of the podium at their home German Grand Prix.

Four-time champion Vettel will be seeking to end a "nightmare" year since he crashed out of the lead at last year's German contest and, in the process, handed a remarkable victory and the impetus in the title race to his British rival.

Vettel has won only once, in Belgium last year, since then.

Five-time world champion Hamilton has not looked back since and leads this year's championship by 39 points, ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel, who was born at nearby Heppenheim, has endured a run of mistakes and disappointments that have thrown his future into doubt.

On top of that, Hamilton is seeking his fifth German triumph this weekend as Mercedes celebrate their 200th start as a constructor and his fourth at Hockenheim, where the luckless Vettel has never won.

Vettel's sole German victory came at Nuerburgring in 2013, a year after Ferrari's last win in Germany when Fernando Alonso won at Hockenheim in 2012 - statistics that Vettel will not enjoy being reminded of as he seeks Ferrari's first win since last year's United States GP.

"I know how it is and I know that we have to make up for last year," conceded Vettel.

"I am looking forward to racing at Hockenheim - the atmosphere is phenomenal there always and the crowd is great too. I hope we can do something good for them."

Vettel has received support in his difficulties from Hamilton who reeled off another mighty victory, the 80th of his career, at the British GP where the Ferrari driver crashed into the rear of Max Verstappen's Red Bull on another undistinguished afternoon.

But he needs more than sympathy now as the 21-race season reaches its half-way point and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc is pushed by the Italian sports media as being ready to replace him as the team's outright No. 1 driver. - AFP

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