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German GP 2018

JULY 20, 2018

Practice 1 Report - A narrow margin

Daniel Ricciardo, British GP 2018
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson in Hockenheim

Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest lap time in Free Practice 1 for the German Grand Prix, clocking a 1:13.525, which bested Lewis Hamilton's best lap time by the narrow margin of 0.004 of a second.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes –Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Honda – Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

In FP1, however, Nicholas Latifi replaced Ocon in the Force India, and Antonio Giovinazzi drove Ericsson's Sauber.

There was no German Grand Prix last year, so this was the first time since 2016 that F1 cars were on the 17-turn 2.842-mile (4.574 km) Hockenheimring.

Ricciardo was the first out in FP1.

"Hockenheim is a fun circuit and I've always enjoyed going there," Ricciardo said. "My highlight is probably the battle I had there with Alonso in 2014 which I loved. Turn 1 is super-fast and the track is good for overtaking. The stadium section is also fast with a big bold left hander. All round it's a good track and one I've always gone well on."

Pirelli's slick compounds for the weekend were the medium, soft and ultra soft.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Centigrade).

Verstappen was the only driver to clock a lap time – a 1:15.055 – in the first 19 minutes. Then Gasly popped in a 1:18.017.

The Mercedes and McLaren drivers had not even done a single lap 20 minutes into FP1.

As the half hour mark approached the track started to get busier, but the only excitement was when a piece of bodywork flew off of Giovinazzi's Sauber. That, and Raikkonen exactly matching Verstappen's time with his own 1:15.055.

But then Ricciardo pushed them off the top spot with his lap of 1:14.622, followed by a 1:14.467, on the ultra soft tires.

Hamilton, on the softs, beat that with a 1:14.181, which was faster than the pole time in 2016.

At the 40-minute break, the top 10 were: Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Magnussen.

The usual lull ensued, lasting almost 10 minutes before Hulkenberg and Giovinazzi headed out along with others including Bottas who rattled off a 1:13.903 on the ultra softs.

Verstappen, also on the ultras, beat that with a 1:13.714. But others were using that compound now including Hamilton to turned a 1:13.529.

Hulkenberg took a wild ride off track at Turn 12 but did not hit anything.

Others were staying on the track and improving their lap times. Ricciardo moved up to second place with a time 0.170 of a second slower than Hamilton's best.

Then, with 14 minutes remaining in FP1, Ricciardo sliced in a 1:13.525 to beat Hamilton's time by a mere 0.004 of a second.

Ricciardo held on to first ahead of Hamilton. Verstappen was third ahead of Vettel (who had only used the soft compound Pirellis), Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Magnussen, Leclerc and Hulkenberg.