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German GP 2016

JULY 29, 2016

Practice 1 Report - Wow!

Nico Rosberg
© The Cahier Archive

By Dan Knutson in Hockenheim

Wow! Look at that gap! That was the reaction in the Hockenheim paddock at the end of Free Practice 1 for the German Grand Prix after Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg turned a lap time more than a second quicker than third-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. And Rosberg was 0.326 of a second faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes “ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari “ Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes “ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer “ Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes “ Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault “ Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari “ Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari “ Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda “ Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes “ Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Haas Ferrari “ Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

In FP1, Esteban Ocon drove Jolyon Palmer's Renault, and Charles Leclerc replaced Esteban Gutierrez in the Haas.

Rosberg was still ruing losing out to Hamilton in the previous race, and so he was looking to get back in the groove in his home grand prix.

"It was disappointing to lose the race at the first corner in Hungary," Rosberg said. "But I was really happy with my pace all weekend, so that gives me good confidence moving forwards. I'm happy to have the chance to get back in the car again so soon, and especially happy that it's at my second home race."

Just before the session began, the McLaren crew presented Alonso with a cake to celebrate his 35th birthday.

The tire choices for the weekend were Pirelli's super soft, soft and medium slicks.

Leclerc was the first driver out on the 2.842“mile (4.574 km) 17“turn track. Birthday boy Alonso set the first lap time “ a 1:18.817. Verstappen was next to clock a time, but his first lap was 0.592 of a second slower than Alonso's lap.

Then, 15 minutes into the session, Hamilton used a set of the soft compound Pirellis to set a new benchmark of 1:17.947. But he didn't stay on top for long as Ricciardo sliced in a 1:17.698, only to have Raikkonen use the soft tires to clock a 1:17.627. Vettel, also on the softs, lowered that to a 1:17.409.

Now Rosberg was on a roll and recorded a 1:17.136 followed several minutes later with a 1:17.030 on the soft Pirellis.

At the 40 minute break, during which each driver has to hand back one set of tires to Pirelli, the top 10 were: Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Verstappen, Sainz, Button and Bottas.

Leader Rosberg was the first to go back out, and he had a set of the super softs on his Mercedes. He roared around in 1:15.517. That was 1.892 seconds quicker than Vettel's time on the same tires. And it was a full second faster than the 2014 pole time.

The absolute lap record for the track is the 1:13.306 that Michael Schumacher clocked in the first qualifying session for the 2004 race. The race lap record is the 1:13.780 that Raikkonen set that same year.

Thirty-seven minutes remained in FP1 when Hamilton began his run on the softs. His time of 1:15.843 was a third of a second slower than Rosberg's.

Next, Vettel did another run on the super soft Pirellis, which yielded a time of 1:16.907. Alonso slotted into fourth with a 1:17.183, only to have Ricciardo beat that with a 1:17.089.

With just under 30 minutes remaining in FP1, the top 10 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button, Sainz, Bottas and Verstappen.

Vettel improved to a 1:16.667 so he stayed third. Then Verstappen clocked a 1:16.927 to move into fourth, but Raikkonen later beat that with a 1:16852.

The track got very busy in the final minutes as the drivers did long runs on worn tires, and so the order of the top 10 changed little. Not that anyone was going to come close to Rosberg's wow lap anyway.

The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Kvyat and Sainz. So it was all an orderly team-by-team line-up.