HOCKENHEIM, July 18, 2014 (F1plus/Graham Keilloh).- Even with the much-discussed removal of FRIC suspension systems up and down the grid, the top two this morning in Hockneheim remained of the familiar sort. At home in advance of the German Grand Prix once again the Mercedes dominated FP1.
And continuing the home supremacy it was Nico Rosberg that pipped his team mate this time, with a session-topping 1m 19.131, some 65 thousandths under his team mate Lewis Hamilton’s best.
It was a slightly scrappy session generally, with many lock-ups and runs through run-off areas – including for both Mercedes drivers – on show, drivers possibly feeling their way in adapting their approach and set-up to life without the FRIC systems.
Elsewhere any post-FRIC effects were hard to discern at this stage. Fernando Alonso – a man with fine pedigree at this track – showed up well for a run to P3 in the final FP1 order, and getting within three tenths of Rosberg’s best. Whether it reflects a post-FRIC benefit, improvement from Ferrari generally or perhaps another of its Friday false dawns remains to be seen.
For Alonso’s stable mate Kimi Raikkonen there was more frustration however, as he had to abort early with a water pump problem before setting a time, which lost him upwards of half an hour of running. He emerged later to set eighth best time, albeit close to eight tenths off Alonso’s best.
McLaren and Red Bull showed up well however in FP1. Daniel Ricciardo finished up in P4 and Sebastian Vettel (who topped the times for a while) in P6, them 0.566 and 0.966 seconds respectively off Rosberg. While Jenson Button was P5 in the final order and Kevin Magnussen P7, them 0.702 and 0.974 off.
Toro Rosso had an encouraging start to the weekend with Daniil Kvyat ending up in P9 with a 1m 20.337 and Jean-Eric Vergne P12 a quarter of a second shy. Sauber showed up much better than usual too with Adrian Sutil getting P10 with a 1m 20.505. Giedo van der Garde ran in the other car and ended up P16, another around a quarter of a second off his team mate’s best.
Force India had been expected to be one of the winners from the passing of FRIC, but there was little evidence of it here as they finished up an underwhelming P13 and P14, Nico Hulkenberg ahead by a mere six thousandths.
Lotus appeared to remain in the doldrums in P17 and P18, Grosjean ahead, while another expected post-FRIC effect might be coming to pass with Kamui Kobayashi beating Jules Bianchi by around four tenths in P19 and P20. Marcus Ericsson just pipped Max Chilton also in the final two places.
It threatened to be more wretched luck for Susie Wolff standing in at Williams for Valtteri Bottas for this session, as on her opening lap she slowed to a crawl due to an ‘upshift problem’. Thankfully she was able to make it back to the pits, where the problem was remedied swiftly, and Wolff then briefly topped the times, as well as set a series of respectable marks close to, and sometimes beating, those of the permanent driver Felipe Massa. In the end her best was just over two tenths over Massa’s, them in P11 and P15 respectively. Pat Symonds said in advance that anything within half a second would represent a good job.
The times for the session:
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:19.697||0.566||27|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:20.097||0.966||28|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.592||1.461||22|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.598||1.467||24|
|16||36||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber-Ferrari||1:20.782||1.651||23|