FP2: Verstappen shades Hamilton to keep Red Bull ahead
His team mate Daniel Ricciardo topped Free Practice 1, and now Max Verstappen has shown that Red Bull have got some proper pace at the Hockenheimring, going fastest in FP2 – albeit just 0.026s ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen’s 1m 13.085s was the fastest ever lap of the German track, with the record getting broken successively throughout the session. There were some clouds on the horizon for the Dutchman, however, as he complained to his team of a strange noise on his Red Bull RB14 when he was downshifting.
There appears to be little to choose between the top three teams of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari in Germany, with the five fastest cars in the session separated by just 0.3s. Behind Hamilton in P2 came his team mate Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn just eight-hundredths off the Briton's pace.
The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and fifth, with home favourite Vettel reverting back to an older spec of exhaust on his SF71H in this session after trialling a new set-up in the morning.
Having been seventh and eight in FP1, the Haas cars were once again line astern in FP2, with Romain Grosjean in P6 and Kevin Magnussen P7, as the American team continued to flex their Ferrari-powered muscle around the Hockenheim circuit.
Charles Leclerc also demonstrated the advantage of a Ferrari power unit here, going an impressive eighth in his Sauber, ahead of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Force India of Esteban Ocon, who completed the top 10.
You may have noticed the lack of FP1 leader Daniel Ricciardo’s name in that opening gambit. That’s because the Australian, encumbered by penalties for a new MGU-K, energy store and control electronics and thus having to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid, chose to focus on his long-run pace in this session rather than unleashing any qualifying simulation fireworks. Nonetheless, after surviving an early spin he wound up in 13th place, some 1.5s off his team mate’s ultimate best.
Ahead of Ricciardo were the second Force India and second Renault of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, with Sainz’s coolant leak that side-lined him in FP1 having seemingly been sorted out.
Behind Ricciardo, meanwhile, Marcus Ericsson was P14 for Sauber, ahead of the Toro Rosso pairing of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley in 15th and 16th, as the Swiss team appear to slip further away from the Haas-Renault-Force India midfield battle.
Williams and McLaren were the two teams lurking at the back of the field, with Fernando Alonso P17, ahead of the two Williams of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. The were a few moments for Sirotkin in the session, the Russian nearly coming together with Ricciardo at the Turn 6 hairpin, before briefly exploring the gravel trap at Turn 13. Meanwhile for the second session in a row, Stoffel Vandoorne was the final runner in the second McLaren.
So with Friday’s running now complete, it’s time for the cars to get put away and the engineers to start working out if there’s anything they can do overnight to help their drivers get further up the grid in tomorrow’s qualifying session – which has the potential to be interrupted by a few thunderstorms!