Mercedes has kept its race winning momentum going on the opening day of the German Grand Prix weekend, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg topping the timing sheets in the morning free practice session at an overcast Nurburgring.
Despite letting it be known that he is yet to feel 100% comfortable in the Silver Arrows, Hamilton was fastest of all by nearly a quarter second with his time of 1:31.754.
Speaking to the BBC before practice, the 2008 world champion said, “It’s an incredible car; just not as easy as what I’ve experienced before because I drove a car for a long period of time so every year it evolved and I’ve just arrived in a car that’s been developed for Nico [Rosberg] and for Michael [Schumacher], so it’s taking some time to adapt it to how I like to drive.”
Whatever the case the German team – still haunted by the tyre gate saga – has found the sweet spot with Rosberg three quarters of a second up on next best Mark Webber in the Red Bull, who won last time out at Nurburgring in 2011; also the venue of his first ever F1 race back in 2009.
Adrian Sutil was fourth fastest with Force India, suggesting that VJ Mallya’s team which was on form at Silverstone has carried its strong pace to Germany, although Paul Di Resta could only manage the 11th fastest time.
Fifth fastest was Kimi Raikkonenin in the Lotus. The Enstone squad has a few new bits bolted on to the E21.
Felipe Massa was sixth fastest, but the weekend in Germany got off to a bad start for Ferrari with Fernando Alonso limping around to the pits without completing a lap. His team had to work on his F138 race car throughout the ninety minutes. The world championship hopeful has started the weekend on the back foot. Surprisingly, Jenson Button was seventh fastest in the McLaren, which has not looked this strong in an FP1 session all year. Teammate Sergio Perez was tenth.
Sebastian Vettel went quickest early on but then focused on what appeared to be heavy load runs and ended the session eighth fastest. Romain Grosjean was ninth in the Lotus.
Surprisingly out of the top ten were the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne who ended the session 13th and 14th respectively. At Silverstone they were mixing it among the top ten.
Notably last time Formula 1 was at Nurburgring (in 2011) at the end of FP1 Alonso topped the timing screens with a best time of 1:31.894. This in the era of blown diffusers which augmented downforce substantially. Some how the technical gurus, at the pinnacle of the sport, have managed to recoup the downforce through other means…
German Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 5 July 2013
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.789||1.035||22|
|4||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.822||1.068||16|
|8||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:33.213||1.459|
|11||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:33.493||1.739|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:36.078||4.324|