Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in today's final practice for the Formula One German Grand Prix, held this year at Hockenheimring. The morning session was a complete wipe-out for the drivers as they were slipping and sliding on a very wet ...
Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in today's final practice for the Formula One German Grand Prix, held this year at Hockenheimring. The morning session was a complete wipe-out for the drivers as they were slipping and sliding on a very wet track. By the afternoon the rain had let up to allow for a partial dry track, but the tarmac was still soaking in the water, causing havoc for the drivers as rivers and slick areas were, at times, a surprise.
"Today's changeable weather made for a different day to usual, making it even harder to get a true picture of the hierarchy among the teams: you only had to use the softs five minutes later to gain half a second," said Alonzo. "With these track conditions, combined with quite low temperatures, it is important to be very careful with the tyres, so as not to ruin them immediately, especially the softs, so as to be able to evaluate their degradation for the race. From what we could see, there are no particular surprises in store."
The Formula One drivers did run on slick tires in the second session and it was the Prancing Horse in the hands of Alonso that fared the best. His lap of 1:16.265 was challenged by Germany's Sebastien Vettel but try as he did, he fell short by three-hundredths of a second to the Ferrari.
"We have seen before on Fridays that we are very competitive and then on Saturday, the Red Bulls are clearly quicker, so we have to take this result with a pinch of salt: in order to be in front tomorrow, we will have to do something out of the ordinary." Alonso said.
Vettel's best lap in his Red Bull Renault was a 1:16.294. He was one of the racers who did go off during the afternoon session but he saved it from hitting any barriers.
"The conditions were not easy today, they were quite changeable, which made judging lap times difficult, but we got some dry running in the afternoon which was important," said Vettel. "I think it's looking quite good and the car feels good, especially in the last section. Ferrari looked extremely competitive; McLaren had a difficult day with only one car for the majority of running, but they will come back and be up there. I did a bit of rallying in P2 when I lost the rear going into the Stadium section and had to find my way through the gravel, but fortunately I could save the car and there was no problem."
Following their teammates, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber were trading off third best for the day. Massa had his Ferrari at a 1:16.438 with Webber's Red Bull's best time at 1:16.585, just over one-tenth slower.
Massa said at the end of the day: "A good start to the weekend here in Hockenheim, but it is still much too soon to say where we are compared to our main opponents. The changing weather conditions will play an important role and we must be as well prepared as possible to tackle the various possible scenarios."
Webber commented, "It wasn't the easiest day for everyone - the track conditions were pretty tricky, so selecting the right tyres at the right time wasn't straightforward, but we got some good information out of P2 when the track was pretty dry.
The two Germans on the same German team landed the fifth and sixth fastest times in the afternoon practice: Nico Rosberg again was faster than his teammate Michael Schumacher, but by just over a tenth of a second. The two Mercedes GP drivers are looking for a good finish in the team's home Grand Prix.
Rosberg's best lap was a 1:16.827 while Schumacher clocked his best lap at 1:16.827.
Schumacher is on a mission to turn around his first year back to take his 92nd Grand Prix victory -- and what better place to do it than his and his team's home race. "At Hockenheim I will definitely try my best for my fans who give me such a lot of support, especially over the race weekend," he said prior to today's practices, "the German Grand Prix is very special for any German driver."
Lewis Hamilton had the biggest crash in the morning, spinning out at Turn 3 and ripping all four wheels off his McLaren-Mercedes.
"The accident took all four corners off the car, so I was a little bit upset with myself," Hamilton admitted. "The guys work so hard during the week to get the car ready, and then you get to the track, do a few laps, and total the car, which isn't great. It was a huge amount of work for the guys, too, but they've just been phenomenal."
The 2008 World Champion had to sit out most of the afternoon but the McLaren Mercedes team got the Briton back on track to run a few laps on the slicks but the rain was drizzling at the time. Still, Hamilton was able to take the seventh-best time at 1:17.004. It was more important to ensure the car was okay after the multiple replacement of parts and to get an idea of a dry setup.
His teammate, reigning champion Jenson Button, was back in 15th place, having spent the afternoon on the team's long-run testing program.
Behind Robert Kubica, who was seventh in the afternoon times for Renault, were Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg in another strong showing for Williams-Cosworth.
"It was a good, mixed up day in terms of the weather and we tried everything tyre-wise from full wets through to slicks," said Barrichello. "I am happy that we have moved on to another circuit and the car has maintained its competitiveness in all the different conditions we encountered. Saturday is looking gloomy with morning rain again but there is a good possibility that they will run qualifying on a dry track."
Saturday's weather forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies for the third practice session and afternoon qualifying.