Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two after going a tenth faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel in the second practice ahead of the German Grand Prix. The Monacan set his fastest time on the soft tyre to go faster ahead of the two Mercedes and teammate.
In the warm weather at Hockenheim, the Ferrari’s appear to have the edge over Mercedes, who struggled in similar conditions in Spielberg. But, its early stages as the sliver arrows weren’t far behind, Lewis Hamilton in third was only two-hundredths of a second off.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was fourth, over half a second behind. However, the team has struggled all season with warmer weather as well as the Finn struggling on his qualifying simulation which left him six tenths off the pace.
The weather made it difficult for the teams to understand the tyre, but temperatures are expected to fall on Sunday. Rapid tyre degradation proved to be the issue as drivers migrating to the soft tyres later in the session found they had to run up to two achingly slow cool-down laps between faster efforts.
Mercedes will be hoping that the threat of rain and cooler conditions should help them throughout the rest of the weekend.
Despite splitting the top teams Max Verstappen couldn’t respond after Vettel switched to the soft tyres, as the Ferrari’s broke into the 1:14’s he had his own issues. They were as bad as his teammate Pierre Gasly who had a big crash towards the end of the session.
Gasly lost control of the Red Bull with a quarter of an hour to go, as he looped out of the SudKurve the car speared into the barriers hard enough to trigger a deployment of the medical car.
It restarted with nine minutes left on the clock, enough to allow a flurry of track activity that yielded little in the way of lap time improvement since most of the runners’ bar Vettel was out on medium or hard tyres. Romain Grosjean was sixth.
The Frenchman a second and three tenths faster than his teammate Kevin Magnussen, who was only eighteenth fastest, has the team’s latest aerodynamic upgrade. The team was comparing the two cars’ performance in an attempt to understand why Haas has shown such inconsistent performance this season, especially struggling to get the best out of the tyres in race trim.
Racing Points Lance Stroll was seventh and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen eighth, both using the soft tyres. It was an eventful afternoon for Renault, after going ninth Nico Hulkenberg was left stuck in the pit lane with his car stuck in neutral.
Things weren’t going better for Hulkenberg’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo, he locked up and went wide at Turn Two on mediums. His qualifying simulations left him thirteenth, with the Toro Rosso’s of Daniil Kyvat and Alex Albon either side of him.
McLaren was out of where they expected to be, Carlos Sainz eleventh and Lando Norris sixteenth. The team, however, believe they can fight back and continue the strong run of results this weekend.
Both Williams rounded out the field, George Russell nineteenth over a second off the pace but his teammate Robert Kubica was closer than usual.
The question for all the teams overnight with changeable conditions this weekend and the heat do they go for the warm weather or the wet with showers expected on Sunday. There is also the threat of wet weather on Saturday, wet weather proved key last year in deciding the outcome of the race.