Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the pace in the first practice for the German Grand Prix, the German set his fastest time on the soft tyre going two and a half tenths ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc.
A year on from the incident when he crashed out of the race, Vettel comes into this weekend under pressure after another incident at Silverstone. But he set the pace ahead of his teammate, however more importantly he set the time on the softs, while Mercedes was on the mediums.
But Ferrari’s initial pace in this first session was an encouraging start for a team that is still to win a race this season, however, it would be wrong to read too much into it.
Lewis Hamilton was third his teammate Valtteri Bottas fifth, spilt by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The Englishman was three tenths off the pace but having lagged behind Valtteri Bottas when on the soft, lapped almost three-and-a-half tenths quicker than him on softs.
The gap between the top four was under half a second, but given Mercedes performance and not running the faster compound they will improve.
The team who are celebrating their 125th year in motorsport, Mercedes have caught the eye with a split white and silver livery, but it’s the aero upgrades on the championship leaders which will have more material effect on the timesheet.
It was not a perfect start for Bottas, the Finn ran wide through Sachs and managed to avoid the barriers re-joining the circuit. Pierre Gasly was sixth, after struggling with vibration issues early on, he used a set of soft tyres to move up the order.
Carlos Sainz lead the best of the rest, the Spaniard spending the early part of the session on hard tyres before switching to the softs to move up to seventh. That put him ahead of Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman a hundredth off.
Haas were running a split strategy with him running the specification of Haas that was used in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, continuing the back-to-back experiment of the last race at Silverstone with Kevin Magnussen now running the latest, upgraded, version.
Magnussen, meanwhile, was only thirteenth after his car stopped with a sensor issue bringing out the red flag.
Lance Stroll used the upgraded Racing Point to go ninth using the mediums, going almost half a second faster than Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who set his time on softs. Ricciardo had a spin late in the session at NordKurve, but was able to recover.
Sergio Perez was eleventh fastest in the second Racing Point, also using mediums, and just ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris. Daniil Kyvat was fourteenth, just a thousandth faster than teammate Alex Albon.
The British-Thai driver switched halo during the session having initially run a more basic version before returning the usual spec with aero faring.
Nico Hulkenberg was sixteenth in the second Renault ahead of Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi. While Robert Kubica won the interteam battle at Williams, half a second up on George Russell