Scuderia Ferrari carried its promising German Grand Prix Free Practice 1 form into the day’s second session, but the positions were reversed with Charles Leclerc leading Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel was fastest in the morning at Hockenheim, but Leclerc responded on a very hot afternoon by edging ahead of his team-mate by 0.124 seconds with a lap time of 1:13.449.
Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas trailed the Ferraris, although Hamilton was much closer to Leclerc’s time and over 0.5s ahead of Bottas.
Pierre Gasly suffered a crash in the final third of the session at the final corner and heavily damaged the left-hand side of his car, giving Red Bull Racing a headache this evening.
Hard tyre running was the order of the day at the beginning of the session, with the ambient temperature hovering around the 40C mark and track temperatures hitting 50C.
Ferrari was the first of the frontrunning teams to set a fast lap, Leclerc over two-tenths faster than Vettel – who was one of the few using the medium compound.
But Leclerc was noting some difficulty with his brake pedal and suffered a nasty snap of oversteer after negotiating traffic at the exit of the Sachskurve.
Hamilton showed Mercedes’ hand in the more technical sectors of the German track, setting purple times in the first and last sections but ceding time to the Ferraris in the engine-dependent middle part of the lap.
Nevertheless, the Brit managed to better Leclerc’s time by over a tenth-of-a-second as Bottas could only get within 0.338s in third.
Hamilton then improved further to bring the times into the low 1minute 14s mark, but 10 minutes later Leclerc shattered that benchmark with 1:13.573.
The final 15 minutes of the first hour saw marginal gains across the front of the field, with the odd midfield runner – like Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll – troubling the top three on soft tyres, before long-distance running slowed the pace considerably.
Gasly’s crash and the resulting red flag period hampered the teams’ respective Friday programmes but, with weather conditions set to change tomorrow, the delay might not make such a tangible difference.
The Frenchman’s Red Bull team-mate, Max Verstappen, ended the session in fifth – just 0.022s behind from Bottas.
Grosjean claimed a promising sixth for the Haas F1 Team, but reported a loss of power on his way back to the pits after the session timer expired.
Stroll was the final driver inside a second of Leclerc’s time in seventh, continuing the pace shown in the morning by the Racing Point F1 Team.
Kimi Räikkönen struggled with the balance of his Alfa Romeo Racing car in places, but still managed eighth place ahead of Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez.
Hülkenberg also reported power issues to the Renault F1 Team, complaining of a complete lack of battery power, before stopping on track with a further gearbox problem.
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