It was Nico Rosberg who got the upper hand over team-mate Lewis Hamilton in first practice ahead of Sunday’s German Grand Prix, edging a small superiority in the final sector into a 0.06 advantage over a lap distance; though Hamilton appeared to hold sway in the middle sector of the Hockenheim circuit. The result added a little more levity to what has already been a euphoric week for Rosberg after Germany’s world cup victory, his marriage to long-time fiancée Vivian Sibold and a new contract with Mercedes that runs to the end of 2016.
The session began with a scare for Williams and Susie Wolff; after her short-lived outing in FP1 at Silverstone a fortnight ago she was hoping for trouble-free horizons at Hockenheim but an upshift gear problem caused her to crawl back to the garage in the opening minutes. though thankfully this time it was repairable.
She ended the morning with a respectable laptime of 1:20:769, around 0.1 down on team-mate Felipe Massa who took pole position in Austria last month.
Elsewhere Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the cockpit after his horrendous Silverstone crash was blunted by mechanical problems that relegated him to the garage for most of the 90 minutes, prompting some to ask why Ferrari had not opted to buy the services of their junior driver Jules Bianchi from Marussia for this weekend. For their part, Marussia appeared to struggle with the removal of the FRIC suspension system ahead of Hockenheim, allowing their arch-rivals Caterham to recover some of the ground they have lost in the development race since the start of the season.
Behind the dominant Mercedes there was a lively scrap for tenths of a second between Red Bull, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Jenson Button, re-kindling memories of the three way fight for victory between Vettel and his peers here in 2012. 3rd to 8th were covered by just over half a second by the time the drivers moved onto their long fuel runs and race simulations in the final half hour.
CLASSIFICATION – FP1 – German Grand Prix – 18th July 2014
|16||van der Garde||Sauber||1:20:782|