The start of the 2018 Formula 1 German Grand Prix weekend saw a close fight with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing just marginally ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at Hockenheim in the first practice session.
Hamilton led the way in the opening part of the FP1 session before handing over the initial tyres. He improved on his laptime along with teammate Valtteri Bottas but the Red Bull drivers, especially Ricciardo was able to eke out more.
The Australian finished with a time of 1m13.525s which was a mere 0.004s quicker than Hamilton who did a 1m13.529s on the ultrasoft compound. Max Verstappen backed up Red Bull’s pace with a 1m13.714s to be third.
It was a trouble-free run for most of the drivers in the Top 3 teams apart from Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The Australian had a freak moment when he ran over a beverage can on the track – fortunately, it didn’t damage the floor by much.
Raikkonen (1m14.267s), meanwhile, had multiple offs at Turn 1 which meant he only was sixth behind teammate Vettel (1m13.796s) in fourth and Bottas (1m13.908s) in fifth. However, the two Ferrari drivers clocked their best time on the soft compound.
As seen in other races, the two Haas drivers were again the best of the rest with Romain Grosjean ahead of Kevin Magnussen with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in ninth and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completing the Top 10.
Leclerc’s time was impressive considering he used the soft tyres to clock it. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg did well in the end after surviving a big off on the entry to the stadium section in the middle of the session.
Just outside the Top 10 was Force India’s Sergio Perez (1m15.415s) ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso (1m15.544s), who had a late improvement after being confined in the pits for most of the session as McLaren ran set-up changes.
It was the same for teammate Stoffel Vandoorne (1m16.149s) who finished dead last in the end – the two drivers did the least number of laps as a team. Behind Alonso was Williams’ Lance Stroll (1m15.629s) in a good 13th.
Despite Renault’s Carlos Sainz (1m15.769s) only doing 10 laps, the Spaniard clocked the 14th best time. His session was over after the team suspected a coolant leak issue. Brendon Hartley (1m15.864s) in 15th was the lead Toro Rosso driver.
The Kiwi had his moments in the session but it was teammate Pierre Gasly (1m16.071s) in 18th had more with the Frenchman complaining of instability. Between the two, it was Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin (1m15.876s) and Force India’s Nicholas Latifi (1m16.023s).
The Canadian replaced Esteban Ocon in the Force India for his second FP1 drive of the season. The other substitute driver was Antonio Giovinazzi (1m16.136s) in the Sauber, replacing Marcus Ericsson.
This was the Italian’s first FP1 drive since the 2017 Abu Dhabi GP as he also set his best time on the soft compound. He was involved in a crazy incident when his engine cover came off in the final corner of his lap.
While Ricciardo set the best time of the session, the Australian is expected to start from the back of the grid for the German GP as he took fresh new parts on his power unit, thereby incurring host of grid penalties.