What the teams said - Friday in Germany
A good day for the men in red, with Vettel topping first practice and Leclerc doing likewise in FP2. As well as looking quick, they both managed to keep to the track unlike their rivals. The only gloss to be taken off was repeated radio calls from Leclerc who seemed to struggle with several small technical issues, but which were soon resolved.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:14.013, P1; FP2: 1:13.573, P2
“I am happy with how today went. It took me a short while before finding the rhythm. We lost a bit of time in the first session when running the Mediums because of a red flag. I don’t know what programme our rivals were on, and how much they had to turn down the engine mapping because of the heat. It would be nice to have this weather on Sunday. Overall, it was a positive day, mainly because we have understood how to manage the car in these conditions. We got through all our programme aimed at having the car in the best possible set up and we have to continue down this route tomorrow, when track conditions and the weather could be very different.”
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:14.268, P2; FP2: 1:13.449, P1
“It was a positive day overall. The feeling in the car was good and we performed well during the high-fuel runs, which was one of our main challenges at the beginning of the season. High temperatures, such as those we saw today, suit our car well. It seems that there may be a change in the weather conditions tomorrow and on Sunday, which we will adapt to. Over the past few weekends, our competitors only revealed their full potential in qualifying. We must keep our heads down and continue working on optimizing our performance on this track. I look forward to being back in the car tomorrow and will give my best to put it on the front row.”
Mercedes expected to struggle in the heat and so it proved, with the Silver Arrows finishing behind their Scuderia rivals in both sessions. But it wasn't so much the heat that stalled their momentum as a few scruffy laps from their drivers. Both ran wide through he final corner, with Bottas then going off into the gravel for good measure. If the weather forecast holds, they will be happier to see cooler air and even some rain tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:14.315, P3; FP2: 1:13.595, P3
"It's not been the best of days in terms of the heat, but pretty straightforward otherwise. These tyres don't like the temperature so we had to do very slow outlaps and the tyres don't last very long. It's all about trying to keep the tyres in the working range. They were always overheating, so that's been the main issue today, but we're all in the same boat. We're hoping the weather won't be like this for the rest of the weekend. If it's cooler and it's dry, nothing from today really applies - the tyres will come back towards us and everyone will be quicker and more comfortable on the track."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:14.660, P5; FP2: 1:14.111, P4
"It's was extremely hot, I can't remember the last time I drove in these kind of conditions, but it's the same for everyone. It makes it more tricky for the drivers, the cars and the tyres. We saw lots of overheating, especially in sector 3. We've made some progress on our cooling; we would have struggled massively to run here with the package we had in Austria, but with the new package we could actually complete some good long runs. The weather is going to be completely different tomorrow and on Sunday with lower temperatures and a chance of rain. So we will need to be very dynamic reacting to the weather with the car set-up. We haven't really run in the wet this year, so I actually hope for rain - it would be nice to drive in the wet."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's been a tough day in the heat, we were seeing over 39°C in the second session which was pretty hard on the tyres and the car, not to mention the drivers and the team in the garage. We had quite a few new bits on the car, some for performance and some to improve the cooling. So far, it all seems to be in the right direction but there is so much overheating on the tyres today that it is hard to know where we stand. In terms of pace, some runs were a bit better than others but our overall feeling is that in these temperatures, we're probably sitting a little bit behind Ferrari. We've got some useful learning from the sessions today and it's been a good test of the car, but we're expecting a big drop in temperature for the remainder of the weekend. With the cooler temperatures there is a good chance of rain which should keep things interesting."
A tale of two halves. Verstappen looked quick once again, and certainly will be in the mix come race day even though he briefly struggled with intermittent power loss. But Gasly, pushing hard after finding himself towards the bottom of the timing sheet, crashed into the barriers towards the end of FP2. He emerged unscathed but the same couldn't be said for his RB15, which will require a considerable rebuild overnight.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:14.330, P4; FP2: 1:14.133, P5
“Today was okay. We haven’t quite found the perfect balance yet but we are also not too far behind. In FP2 I didn’t have a clean lap on the softest compound as I had to abort and around here it is really a one lap tyre. I ended up doing extra laps on the tyre and the peak of the grip was gone. We are a little bit behind Mercedes and Ferrari but with some fine-tuning it will be ok and I think we are better than the times from FP2 show. It’s always good to get plenty of running on a Friday, even if the conditions are going to change, as you can still get an understanding and find the right direction for the rest of the weekend. One thing I know for sure is that it’s very hot and I’ve been sweating a lot!”
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:14.813, P6; FP2: 1:15.089, P15
“It was quite a tricky day today. We managed to get some decent laps during FP1 and the feeling with the car was good. We completed the normal tests and then in FP2, we had a couple of issues which meant we didn’t get a short run on soft tyres and that put us back in the classifications, but the feeling was still good. Unfortunately, towards the end of the session I lost the car exiting the final corner during a long run and hit the barrier. Fortunately I wasn’t using my race engine or gearbox, but more importantly I’m really sorry for the boys in the garage and I want to apologise to them as the repairs will make for a long night. Looking ahead to tomorrow, the conditions are going to be completely different so we need to learn from today and analyse all the tests we have done.”
Magnussen stopped out on track in first practice with a sensor issue, and was rather ignominiously towed back to the pit lane. Luckily it proved to be a quick fix and he was soon back underway. Grosjean, though, was the star of the show - he put in an early lap on the softs in FP2, which stood the test of time. He wound up 'best of the rest' in a return to form for the American outfit - even if he was using their Melbourne-spec set-up.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:15.074, P8; FP2: 1:14.179, P6
“It’s been a good day. I’m generally happy with the car – and have been since the first lap this morning. It was quite exciting to see the lap time in the afternoon being so close to the mix with Bottas and Verstappen. Maybe when qualifying time comes it could be a different story, but so far, I’m very happy. We’re evaluating a lot of things here. The long runs, I think we can work on that a little bit, we tried different things but didn’t quite get the right direction. I’ve got confidence that we can sort that out for the rest of the weekend. The feeling in the car though has been really good. It looks like the weather might be quite different for the rest of the weekend, it’ll play a part. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:15.759, P13; FP2: 1:15.470, P18
“It’s been a little bit of a confusing day. We’ll see what we can learn in the data tonight, and then make a decision about what we’re going to do for tomorrow. We didn’t have grip today, overall it just wasn’t performing well. I don’t want to make any conclusions yet, but the upgrades didn’t work immediately. I can’t go back to Romain’s (Grosjean) car this weekend, which is a little bit of a bummer, but we also need to learn, and that’s the work I’m doing – we’re continuing the development. I haven’t seen the forecast but I’m hoping for some crazy weather.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s been quite a good Friday for us, even if the temperatures will be completely different on Sunday for the race. I think we learned a lot today. We had two cars running almost faultlessly, except for Kevin (Magnussen) in FP1, when he had a sensor go down. All-in-all, a good effort from the team as we ran two specs of car. Now we need to dig into the data and see what is what here.”
A mixed day for Renault, with Hulkenberg suffering with a couple of issues, one of which caused him to park up at the end of the pit lane. He did manage a surprising amount of running considering, while the team reassured the German they could fix everything overnight. Ricciardo, meanwhile, had a big 360-degree spin over the kerbs at the end of FP1 which won't have done his floor much good, but other than that kept out of trouble.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:15.823, P16; FP2: 1:14.472, P9
“It’s been a productive Friday for us. Obviously, it was very challenging with the heat, which made things tricky for the car, drivers, mechanics and the tyres. Managing the tyres was a big subject today, but all in all, it’s not been a bad day. The midfield looks close again with a lot of cars in there. We need a good effort tomorrow to be at the front of that. I wouldn’t mind some rain tomorrow, that would make it interesting around here!”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:15.567, P10; FP2: 1:15.010, P13
“We put in plenty of laps today, so no complaints there. We have a bit of lap time to find, but we’ll try and figure it out tonight. We won’t stress too much as the weather and temperatures look like they’ll change for the rest of the weekend. Physically, it wasn’t too bad out there, it was certainly hot and quite hard at the wheel but I quite enjoy that! It was tricky making the tyres last and the grip didn’t feel great, but that’s the same for everyone.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“It’s fair to say it’s an unusual situation here. Today was very hot, but over the next few days we’re expecting it to be cooler with a huge threat of rain. While we went through our normal work today, it might not be applicable if it does rain and we have to run a wet tyre. We made some compromises as a result of that today with one eye on it being wet. We don’t have any major concerns from today’s running, there’s time to find as always, but that’s the same for everyone on a Friday night. We’re looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
McLaren have been the pick of the midfield teams in the past few races, and Sainz continued that form by finishing there or there abouts in the top 10. Norris wound up out of sync, and locked up on his flying run in FP2 so didn't manage a representative time.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:15.062, P7; FP2: 1:14.662, P11
“I think the hot conditions offered a very challenging Friday to pretty much every team. For us, it was a matter of evaluating new set-up directions, which we did across FP1 and FP2. FP1 looked competitive; FP2 a bit less, so we need to analyse why.
“Our rivals look like they’ve made a good step forward, so it’ll be interesting come qualifying to see where we are exactly this weekend. The weather conditions also seem to change a lot for tomorrow and Sunday, so that might bring good opportunities. We’ll be ready for that.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:15.616, P12; FP2: 1:15.247, P16
“A tricky day. FP1 wasn’t too bad; we got to do everything we needed to. We suffered a bit with the car, a couple of problems here and there but nothing major. In FP2 we tended to struggle a bit more, probably because of the temperature. It didn’t seem to suit the car as much. It felt like we improved in some areas but there were other areas where it was worse. We’ll go through everything overnight.
“FP2 was a bit on the messy side with the red flag, and also we had to turn off the car because we were stuck at the end of the pit-lane behind a Renault – so just not as clean as FP1. Plenty of things to improve on tomorrow, but the team will analyse the data and I’m confident we’ll be in the mix.”
James Key, Technical Director
“Sweltering temperatures today so tricky conditions. I think it was difficult for everyone to understand the track, the car and the tyres in such low density air and a very high track temperature. We brought just a few test items today but we had a lot of experimental work to do, so there are several different directions and measurements that we looked at throughout the day, on both cars.
“I think this morning was fine, and gave us some general directions to follow; this afternoon, with an even higher track temperature, was a little bit more tricky for us. And, although it is close with our competitors, I think there’s a little bit of work to do overnight to try to consolidate what we know.”
Racing Point were running an upgraded spec and based on today's showing, it looked like a solid improvement. Both drivers completed a full programme, with the focus on long runs on the medium tyres in FP1 complemented with qualifying simulations in FP2. Stroll shaded the intra-team battle, with both looking like top 10 contenders for tomorrow.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:15.604, P11; FP2: 1:14.518, P10
“A good day, I have to say. I was testing the new package, the same as my team-mate. It's hard to compare with the old parts - especially with such high temperatures today - but it definitely feels like an improvement. The car feels better and I think this direction has more potential. We're still struggling a little bit with the balance, so it was tricky at times and we have some work to do on that tonight - but generally we can be pleased with the level of competitiveness. I’m always careful not to draw conclusions from just one day, so let’s see what happens in qualifying.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:15.191, P9; FP2: 1:14.268, P7
“I felt happy with the car. It is early days, but it looks like we have made a step forward with the upgrade. You can see the car looks quite different and it’s encouraging to be in the top ten for both sessions. It’s only Friday, though, and there is lots of work to be done to carry this performance through until Sunday. Track temperatures were very hot, but looking at the forecast we could see a big change for the weekend.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“A busy Friday evaluating the new bodywork. We had parts on the car that only arrived this morning and more things coming overnight, and I want to give credit to everybody in the team who has worked hard to fast-track these changes. Initial feedback from the drivers is positive and the data backs this up. There is a big question mark over the weather tomorrow with rain showers predicted, which would make for an interesting qualifying hour. Either way, we expect cooler conditions than we’ve seen today.”
An odd day for Alfa - they were towards the back of the timing sheets in first practice, after choosing to work on set-up as opposed to one-lap speed. Come FP2 and they allowed the drivers free rein to chase the lap times, with Raikkonen delivering a solid top 10 performance, which his team mate couldn't match.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:15.953, P17; FP2: 1:14.458, P8
“It’s been a regular Friday and I tend not to look at the times when it is just practice. We always seem to be a bit behind in FP1 and make up ground as the weekend goes on, but times only matter from tomorrow afternoon. The conditions weren’t ideal: the heat made it a bit tricky but in the end it’s the same for everybody. It’ll be interesting to see what the weather does tomorrow and on Sunday, but we just need to focus on the work we have to do to get where we want.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:16.382, P18; FP2: 1:15.406, P17
“It was a very hot first day of action. I did a small mistake on my push lap on softs but I think we have a competitive car so far. The weather could change tomorrow but in the end, even if it rains, it’s the same for everyone so we need to adapt to it. We will push to find the best setup tonight and to get a good result in qualifying.”
A quiet day for Toro Rosso, with both drivers delivering a decent lap tally as they gathered data ahead of an all-important qualifying tomorrow. They look to be lacking a little bit of pace to make Q3, but with the changeable conditions, anything could happen...
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:15.776, P14; FP2: 1:14.800, P12
“It was warm today! The conditions were quite extreme in terms of the heat, so we will see what we can learn and, hopefully, make a step forward tomorrow. We have a lot to understand and analyse tonight, there’s definitely room for improvement so we’ll do our best to come back with a stronger car ahead of qualifying. It will be interesting to see what the weather conditions are going to be like tomorrow because the forecast looks very different compared to today, so we will have to adapt quite quickly to it. It was tricky for everyone because these kinds of conditions are rare. We have always been close to the top 10 this year, sometimes outside sometimes inside, so it’s the same this weekend, we just need to understand what we need to go quicker.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:15.777, P15; FP2: 1:15.062, P14
“I think it wasn’t a bad day today, but there is still a bit of work to do. We’ve brought some upgrades here, so we just need to understand them a bit better. There are things which we can improve on to help get us into the top ten, such as the balance, so we will see how to best optimise the car for Qualifying. However, it seems the weather will be different tomorrow. It was very hot today, probably one of the hottest I’ve had driving a car, it felt like there was a hairdryer in my face!”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“The temperatures so far this week have been extreme, even by Hockenheim standards. The temperature, combined with the low working range C4 tyre compound, made for a tricky Friday as it was almost impossible to keep the tyres within their working range. We had the joint most aggressive number of them, so three of our four new tyres for Friday were on this compound, mainly to give us as many opportunities as possible to practice for Qualifying. We came here with quite an extensive test plan on both the aero and the mechanical side. The aero tests were predominantly carried out on Alex’s car in FP1 leaving Daniil to learn about the balance of the car and how to maximise the performance from the tyres. Heading into FP2, both cars had similar programmes with two low fuel runs followed by high fuel long runs. The track changed quite a lot between FP1 and FP2 with even higher track temperatures and increased wind, which meant we were lacking overall grip and found it hard to get a consistent balance. Although the ambient temperatures were high, unlike in Austria which has lower ambient pressure, there was less of an impact on the cooling performance here, so from the PU side we were well within limits.
“The performance of the car today has not been where we expected it to be. In the hot conditions on the C4 compound, we felt we had learnt how to get the most from it, but there is clearly still work to do to optimise the overall grip and balance, particularly over a short qualifying style run. We have gathered a lot of data from today and it will be a busy evening for the engineers to piece together all of the findings and improve the performance for the rest of the weekend. However, we need to bear in mind that the weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is looking very different, with much lower ambient and track temperatures and even a chance of thunderstorms, so we will need to adapt our learning from today and feed that into our setup choice for FP3 onwards.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“Due to the heatwave affecting Europe, with 37 degrees air temperature and the track at 50, these are the toughest conditions we have experienced this year. However, the next two days are expected to be significantly cooler, so from the PU side we have taken that change into consideration when planning our settings for qualifying and the race. Both teams ran a normal Friday programme but the drivers do not seem entirely satisfied, so we will now work with the teams to try and improve the package.”
Kubica ran a new spec today and put it to good use to come home ahead of his team mate in FP1. The positions were reversed in second practice, with Russell shading the Pole. Both ran flow-vis paint in a bid to gather as much useful data as possible.
Robert Kubica - FP1: 1:16.559, P19; FP2: 1:16.980, P20
"Today wasn’t a straightforward day, we brought some new items to the car but were compromised in FP1. Although we have a new package, we were influenced too much by some issues which we can hopefully fix and tomorrow will be a better day. The forecast is for rain tomorrow which might spice things up and shuffle the pack. It will be my first time racing in wet conditions for a long time but let’s wait and see what the weather brings."
George Russell - FP1: 1:17.126, P20; FP2: 1:16.900, P19
"Today was very hot! It was quite unrepresentative for the weekend, which I think was the same for everyone up and down the grid. We’ve learnt some things and got a lot of evaluating to do of the parts we tested today, some of which were only on Robert’s car and may also be on my car tomorrow. We’re definitely looking forward to putting a bit more performance on the car but today it’s really difficult to know what the improvements were, as it was difficult to get a clear back to back comparison. The first signs seem relatively as expected."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"Today was a very difficult day. Working in the extreme heat is difficult for everyone but it also adds to the confusion over the car behaviour. Conditions are very likely to be completely different tomorrow, and on Sunday, and so today was mainly about gathering data, doing our homework, and managing the car in the difficult conditions.
"We brought some new parts to test at this event and we were able to complete this testing between the two cars. We now have a lot of data to go through tonight to decide on the best specification to take in to the rest of the weekend."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"There's currently a performance gap of around 0.6 seconds between soft and medium, with a slightly smaller gap between medium and hard. The overriding characteristic of today was intense heat, with track temperatures well in excess of 55 degrees centigrade, which were among the highest we have ever seen in Formula 1. This meant that the drivers had to look after the rear tyres in particular, but in spite of the extreme heat, all three compounds coped well with the conditions: even the soft, which set fastest time today. All three compounds look well-suited to the track and the current conditions, but it's hard to know exactly how the weather will evolve over the rest of the weekend – with some rain expected from tomorrow. If that's the case, as happened last year too, then it will lend yet another interesting element to a weekend that's already proving quite hard to predict, with close gaps among the frontrunners."