Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have pinned Scuderia Ferrari‘s German Grand Prix hopes on dry and warm weather at Hockenheim after leading both Friday Free Practice sessions.
Vettel was the fastest man in the morning, ahead of Leclerc, before the two drivers reversed their positions in Free Practice 2 with Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton in close company.
Both drivers reflected on a “positive” day, but understand that little can be taken from Friday’s running with a multitude of different programmes and simulations taking place.
Stormy conditions are expected to hit Hockenheim on Saturday, potentially giving Mercedes the advantage in qualifying.
2018 polesitter Vettel says that he hopes that the adverse weather will stay away for the duration of the weekend, as Ferrari continues to search for a first victory of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
“I am happy with how today went,” said Vettel.
“It took me a short while before finding the rhythm. We lost a bit of time in the first session when running the mediums because of a red flag [for Kevin Magnussen‘s on-track stoppage].
“I don’t know what programme our rivals were on, and how much they had to turn down the engine mapping because of the heat – it would be nice to have this weather on Sunday.”
The German believes that Ferrari has a handle on its car in hot conditions, with temperatures hitting a peak of 38C through the day, but understands that all the team’s hard work could be marked as slightly irrelevant if the forecasted weather materialises.
“Overall, it was a positive day, mainly because we have understood how to manage the car in these conditions,” he added.
“We got through all our programme aimed at having the car in the best possible set up and we have to continue down this route tomorrow, when track conditions and the weather could be very different.”
Leclerc reported good pace on high-fuel runs, an area that Ferrari struggled with at the start of the campaign, and echoes Vettel’s thoughts on the car’s performance in heat and Mercedes’ hidden pace.
But the Monégasque driver was more bullish in his approach to any wet running, asserting that Ferrari will “adapt” to anything thrown its way.
“The feeling in the car was good and we performed well during the high-fuel runs, which was one of our main challenges at the beginning of the season,” Leclerc said.
“High temperatures, such as those we saw today, suit our car well. It seems that there may be a change in the weather conditions tomorrow and on Sunday, which we will adapt to.
“Over the past few weekends, our competitors only revealed their full potential in qualifying.
“We must keep our heads down and continue working on optimising our performance on this track.”