Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull put on another display of strength on Friday afternoon to set the pace in free practice ahead of the German Grand Prix. The home favourite was quickest on lower fuel with the RB9 also looking the class of the field during the race simulations at the Nurburgring.
The morning session was a different story however as Mercedes totally dominated the opening ninety minutes. Lewis Hamilton was out in front with a 1:31.754, two tenths faster than teammate Nico Rosberg while Mark Webber led the chasing pack, a full second behind.
The afternoon session would be particularly significant for Pirelli with their tyres subjected to high fuel running for the first time since Silverstone but in that respect, the session passed off without incident. Mark Webber was the man making the headlines early on as he romped into a sizeable lead, going quicker than Hamilton’s benchmark time from FP1 and then some.
Once the option tyres were fitted, the Australian broke straight into the 1:30s to move a second ahead of the rest but Vettel soon took a bite into that advantage, as did the Mercedes duo. Webber pressed on with a 1:30.683, demonstrating that the soft compound will be good for more than one timed lap, but Vettel’s second attempt was even quicker despite running slightly wide at the last corner, stopping the clock at 1:30.416.
Rosberg was another driver to keep his Pirellis intact for a second flyer and moved up to second, fractionally faster than Webber but Lewis Hamilton was eight tenths off the pace on his low-fuel run, seeing him tumble to eighth. The Briton was demoted by the Lotus pair with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen taking fourth and fifth, two tenths ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Alonso had to recover from an awful start to the day when his Ferrari broke down two laps into FP1 with electrical problems.
Behind Hamilton came the leading McLaren of Jenson Button, showing slightly more promise than he did in Silverstone to outpace the two Force Indias. Paul Di Resta pipped Adrian Sutil for tenth with the German coming perilously close to hitting the wall after straying onto the gravel at the last corner.