It was another very tight Friday afternoon with Red Bull setting the pace in Germany. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen occupied the top of the timesheets in FP1 and FP2 but Mercedes and Ferrari were hot on their heels.
It was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who went fractionally quicker than the Mercedes drivers to end FP1 quickest. Ricciardo will however start at the back of the grid on Sunday after Red Bull fitted a new MGU-K, control electronics and energy store to his RB14.
There was little to choose between the top 3 teams as the top 6 were separated by 7 tenths of a second. The other Red Bull of Max Verstappen was 4th ahead of home favourite and Championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was 5th quickest after he revealed that he was staying with the German outfit and therefore partnering Hamilton for 2019 while the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was 6th quickest.
Haas were once again best of the rest although being just over a second off the pace with Romain Grosjean ahead of Kevin Magnussen. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc impressed once again to be in the top 10 just ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Force India’s Esteban Ocon sat out the first session as Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicolas Latifi were able to get some Friday running in.
Giovinazzi finished the session in 19th but remained in the garage for quite a while after his engine cover flew off in dramatic form causing the Italian creep back to the pits.
Latifi, who competes in F2 with DAMS, had a quieter session and finished in 17th place just over 6 tenths behind Sergio Perez in the other Force India car in 11th place.
As we have seen all this year, most of the drivers found the first session tricky with the drivers getting to grips with the circuit and the speed of the cars. Turn 12 proved to be the most challenging corner with many drivers running wide. Hulkenberg was just one of many drivers to go off but the German took a trip through the gravel trap before returning to the circuit.
Notably, McLaren had a difficult session and completed the least mileage of any teams. Fernando Alonso was 12th with Stoffel Vandoorne 20th with the team saying that they not specifically focusing on Hockenheim’s schedule.
Come FP2, there was still little to separate the top 5 drivers. Nearly 3 and a half tenths separated first to fifth but it was Verstappen who ended the session quickest.
Verstappen, who retired last time out in Britain, was three quarters of a tenth ahead of Hamilton who was less than a tenth ahead of Mercedes team-mate Bottas. There was trouble for the Dutchman though as he complained to his team of a strange noise when he was downshifting.
Vettel and Raikkonen for Ferrari were 4th and 5th with both drivers racking up the laps and data for the rest of the weekend
Haas were once again best of the rest in 6th and 7th with Grosjean still ahead of Magnussen. Sauber’s Leclerc was 8th ensuring that there was 5 Ferrari powered cars in the top ten. Hulkenberg for Renault was 9th with Esteban Ocon for Force India in 10th.
It was a quieter session for the FP1 pacesetter Ricciardo. Due to the fact that the Australian will be starting at the back of the grid, he decided to focus on long-run pace instead of one-lap qualifying pace. After suffering a spin, Ricciardo would finished 13th with the Force India of Perez and the Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr ahead of him.
It was another tough session for Williams and McLaren as the two teams occupied the last four spots on the timesheets. Alonso got the better of the Williams of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin to 16th with Vandoorne bringing up the rear once again in 20th place.