Ferrari makes a strong start
Ferrari has made a strong start to this weekends German grand prix, topping both the practice sessions with one two’s. In FP1, Sebastian Vettel went two and a half tenths faster than Charles Leclerc, while in FP2 Leclerc was a tenth ahead of Vettel.
This weekend the thing which is giving Ferrari the advantage over Mercedes is the very hot weather, we normally don’t expect these hot humid conditions in Germany. We know that in Austria as well Mercedes had problems with cooling and that could be the issue this weekend.
Although Hamilton was only two hundredths off, we know that the weather is going to be the challenge. Ferrari knows that in Bahrain they had a better car and it was very strong in both qualifying and the race, but reliability was the issue in the race and cost Leclerc victory.
The other thing is for the rest of the weekend we have changeable conditions, we know that Mercedes has great drivers in the wet. The strategy could be key should the weather change, and that has also been one of the teams biggest weakness.
Mercedes have “massive” cooling issues
Valtteri Bottas believes that Mercedes would have had “massive” problems even to run in practice if they hadn’t introduced the cooling update following the teams’ problems at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Since the race in Spielberg the team has been working on a number of updates to improve the cooling of the car, where the marginal cooling became the teams biggest issues.
The timing of the introduction of the new parts could not have been more important, with Germany taking the full brunt of the heatwave that has spread across Europe as temperatures got close to 40C.
Asked about how much the updates had helped, Bottas said: “I think we have made progress. I think with the package we had in Austria, we would have struggled massively to run. But now we could complete some good long runs and it is going to get a lot better on Saturday and Sunday with the temperatures, so it is good to see we have been able to improve that.”
He also said that he hasn’t driven in these kinds of conditions before, saying that the conditions make it tricky for the drivers with overheating. That is going to be a big issue in the final sector.
But cooler temperatures expected for the remainder of the weekend, and rain even possible, Bottas says that there is little to take away from the Friday times as rival Ferrari led the way.
Hamilton added “temperatures expected for the remainder of the weekend, and rain even possible, Bottas says that there is little to take away from the Friday times as rival Ferrari led the way.”
Hero to zero Gasly
Pierre Gasly was one of the stands out performers at Silverstone, but hopes of carrying on that strong result didn’t last long. The Frenchman crashed out of FP2 after losing control of the Red Bull with fifteen minutes remaining.
The Frenchman suffered a 10G crash after he lost control and grip running wide through the final corner, losing his front two wheels. Throughout the day Gasly struggled to find a rhythm, and was well off his teammates’ pace.
Gasly was not running his race power unit and there is plenty of time to rebuild the car ahead of final practice on Saturday morning. However, his mechanics will not be excited by that prospect considering the heat, while the pressure on Gasly’s shoulders.
Team principal Christian Horner described the incident as “annoying.”
He told F1.com “It’s early days, we need to get the chassis back and have a proper look. It was about a 10G impact, it has done a bit of damage. Thankfully it’s not the race engine but it is frustrating to lose a car at that point of the session.”
“Unfortunately, it’s off the back of a good result at Silverstone. It is not the start of the weekend you want to have. It is only free practice, we will get the car rebuilt tonight and build on that for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, teammate, Max Verstappen had a smoother day but admitted a small error meant that his fifth place was unreprehensive of his pace. Saying “The session was alright. The day could have been a bit better, we had a few little things to get on top of.”
“Also on fast tyre, I had to abort my lap. I then did extra laps on that tyre, which you never really want to do, so the peak of grip was gone, but overall we are OK. We are a bit behind Mercedes and Ferrari but it is a bit better than it looks tight now.”
Racing Point showing potential
Lance Stroll believes that the upgraded Racing Point is showing huge signs of early promise. The Canadian and his teammate Sergio Perez were in the top ten in FP2, both hailing the good progress.
The team has brought a raft of upgrades for this weekend which are aimed at improving its performance and balance.
The duo both in the top ten in the more representative second practice session in Germany and were hugely encouraged by the step forward that the new package had delivered. Stroll said afterwards: “It is good to see we are in the upper end of the sheets for a change on Friday. It has been a while. So it is always a good start to the weekend.”
Asked by Motorsport.com if it was his best day of the year, Stroll said: “It is definitely up there. The car is very different, she’s actually been on a diet. It is good and we have to keep it up.”
“Days like this are always nice. But it is a practice session and it doesn’t count for anything. Sights are set on tomorrow.” Stroll hopes that the team are able to keep this level of competitiveness throughout the weekend, but tomorrow might be a different story.
Perez was equally positive about the progress made but said that the team still needed to work a lot on improving the balance of the car if it was going to get both cars into Q3 tomorrow.
Adding “I have to say that it has been a good day,” he said. “A difficult day to find balance out there, struggling still with balance, but generally with the level of competition we have shown today we can be pleased with that.”
Haas upgrades made little difference
Kevin Magnussen says that Haas’s latest upgrades made little difference after he was outpaced by teammate Romain Grosjean in practice. The Dane ran the new spec in FP2, but he was a second slower than the Frenchman who reverted to the Melbourne spec.
Over the course of the season, a pattern has emerged of new components either failing to deliver anticipated gains or even contributing to a decline in performance for Haas’ VF-19.
Speaking about the upgrades, Magnussen said “It didn’t really feel too much different to the Barcelona upgrade initially. I don’t know if there’s stuff that can be done – well, there certainly is stuff that can be done, but we’ll see what that is tonight, and we’ll see tomorrow what it gives.”
“It looked like a very big gap today and it’s not what you want to see when you’re bringing new upgrades. You want to make progress.” He says the team needs to understand why these upgrades didn’t work.
The team now faces a race against time to identify the reasons for the updates not working.