Kimi Raikkonen in fourth place this afternoon was only half a second off the quickest time.
Hockenheim, 18 July – The track temperature at Hockenheim hit an amazing 58 degrees at one point this afternoon, a figure so high that any newcomer to Formula 1 might have assumed the temperatures are posted in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius! The heat was the dominant force in today’s free practice and it’s meant to get even warmer tomorrow, so that tyre management will be the absolute key factor for the rest of the German Grand Prix weekend. To put it in perspective, the track temperature on race day this year in Malaysia, usually regarded as one of the very hottest venues, was a mere 51.
Over the course of today’s three hours of track time, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso racked up a total of 112 laps of this 4.574 km track. Apart from paying close attention to the tyres in the heat – the Supersoft appears to lose performance quite quickly, but then “come back” again after a few laps – the team worked as usual on car set-up, concentrating mainly on race preparation. The fact that all the teams agreed not to run the FRIC suspension systems had little impact on the show, with the pecking order much the same as usual.
With a relatively short lap, the times are always close here, so that Kimi in fourth place this afternoon was only half a second off the quickest time, while even Fernando in ninth was within a second of the fastest driver. It goes without saying the fastest man was driving a Mercedes: today it was British GP winner Lewis Hamilton who set the best time ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull was third and actually looked as though he could give the Anglo-German team a hard time this weekend. In between Kimi and Fernando, we find Magnussen, Massa, Button and Vettel.
Fernando Alonso: “It’s nice to be back racing at Hockenheim. I’ve got fantastic memories of the last race here and I like the track a lot. Today, we concentrated on set-up to try and adapt to the temperatures, which are going to be extremely high all weekend. I had no problems with either the Soft or Supersoft compounds and we just need to understand how they will behave in the race and what the weather could be like on Sunday. I don’t think going away with FRIC changed much in terms of driving style and in order to have a clear picture you’d have to do a comparison with and without it, but running without it, we just have to adapt and be as well prepared as possible with what we have.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Like every Friday, our programme covered set-up work in the first session, then evaluating the tyres and doing a race simulation in the afternoon. Unfortunately in the morning, because of a technical problem, I had to come back to the garage and was unable to do an additional run on the Soft tyres, but thanks to a great job from the team, I managed to quickly get back out on track. In the afternoon, we made up for lost time and managed to improve on all fronts. Overall, it’s been a reasonably positive day, but it’s still to early to make any predictions. We will have to wait until tomorrow to know more.”
Pat Fry: “This was a very busy day of testing, affected by the particularly high temperatures and the new element of FRIC being banned. The absence of this system did not change our programmes, only requiring a bit of time for our drivers to adapt. Fernando had a trouble free morning, while on Kimi’s car there was a problem with the water pump, which cost him a run. However, the team sorted the problem quickly, so that Kimi was back on track in a short space of time. In the afternoon, we continued to work on set-up, also trying the Supersofts. As emerged on the long runs also, if the air and track temperatures stay this high, managing the tyre degradation, on the two softest compounds in the range, will become of even greater importance for the race.”