Lewis Hamilton has finished Friday practice in pole position following two Free Practice sessions full of action as the German Grand Prix got under way at Hockenheim.
In Free Practice One it was Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg that fired the first warning shot that it would be the German drivers weekend as his time of 1:19.131 was six thousandths of a second faster than the Brit.
Indeed the whole grid were very much exploring the new handling capabilities of their machines following the removal of FRIC suspension systems following a decision before the race to take them off the cars before the FIA banned them.
Third place in the session, and hinting at an ever improving car after finishing with a time of 1:19.423, was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who was testing the rear wing for a lot of FP1 in an attempt to analyse the updates coming out of the factory.
It was also a good session for McLaren who are sporting a new rear wing design featuring numerous aero details around the endplates. The design, coupled with the arrival of Tom Stallard – Jenson Button’s new gold medal winning Race Engineer – propelled the Woking team to fifth place, seven tenths off Rosberg.
Finally in FP1 was good news for Susie Wolff who completed 22 laps in the Williams. After the nightmare of Silverstone it was initially thought that Wolff would also miss out on running in this session after a sensor issue seemingly slowed the car down in the opening minutes. Thankfully the issue wasn’t major and she continued her running.
Into FP2 and the gap between the Mercedes pair was even smaller. It was Hamilton that scored the fastest time, a 1:18.341 on the option tyres, with Rosberg only 0.024 seconds behind him.
FP2 was also a good session for Daniel Ricciardo in a performance that shows Red Bull may be slowly turning around their shoddy machine for this year. His time of 1:18.443 was only one tenth of a second slower than Hamilton and could mean he may be an outsider to spoil the Mercedes party at their home Grand Prix.
In fourth, and recovering nicely from the water pressure problems that struck during FP1 was Kimi Raikkonen who secured Ferrari’s status as best of the rest at Hockenheim this weekend.
Behind, and taking Button’s position from the morning’s session was his team mate Kevin Magnussen who was separated by the Briton in seventh by Felipe Massa in the Williams.
Indeed the weather was uncharacteristically hot in Germany with track temperatures reaching 58 centigrade at points of the second session, the highest of all season – surprising considering the circus has already visited the desert track of Bahrain.