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Rosberg sets blistering pace in Germany


Ahead of today's opening session, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

Despite the sunshine, the atmosphere is somewhat muted following yesterday's decision by the Strategy Group to delay the introduction of the Halo device until 2018.

With Bernie Ecclestone one of the most vocal objectors - even to the name - and, according to some sections of the media - the one who ultimately vetoed its introduction, the drivers have been given clear indication of where the sport sees them in the 'food chain' and they are not happy.

Another thing that came out of yesterday's meeting was that the radio rules have been totally relaxed. How, since this comes just a week after they were tightened up let's not get too excited.

Another are that has seen the authorities crack-down in recent weeks is track limits and it will come as no surprise that there is new kerbing here at Hockenheim.

A wide kerb has been laid between the two sections of green-painted concrete on the left between Turns One and Two.

Furthermore 50mm domed kerbs have been installed behind the existing kerbs on the exits of Turns Six and 11, whilst the kerb on the exit of Turn 12 has been replaced by a double negative kerb and the remaining area formerly laid with artificial grass has been laid with concrete.

As ever there are two DRS zones. The detection point of the first is 110m before Turn One, with the activation point 60m after Turn One. The second detection point is at the exit of Turn Four, with the activation point 260m after Turn Four.

Tyre compounds this weekend are medium, soft and supersoft.

There are two reserve drivers on duty this morning, Esteban Ocon replaces Jolyon Palmer at Renault while Charles Leclerc is in Esteban Gutierrez' Haas.

We last raced here in 2014 when Nico Rosberg stood atop the podium, the German would very much like to head off into the three-week summer break with another home win.

Even before the weekend gets underway there's a party atmosphere in the McLaren garage where Fernando Alonso is presented with a cake to mark his 35th birthday.

The lights go green and one of the first out is local hero Vettel, followed by his teammate. In no time at all there are 16 drivers on track including Rosberg, Hulkenberg and Wehrlein.

Sadly, there are very few fans in the stands to greet them. Indeed, the fans are totally out-numbered by the inhabitants of the paddock.

Birthday boy Alonso posts the first time of the weekend, the Spaniard crossing the line at 1:18.817.

Last out is Verstappen, indeed, before the Dutchman emerges Magnussen and Haryanto come out for their second runs.

Verstappen posts the second time of the day, stopping the clock 19.409 following a lock-up at T3, the Red Bull appearing to be running very low.

Ricciardo goes second (19.170) despite running wide in T1, while Verstappen tells his team that his ride height is too low. "The ride is quite harsh, it's difficult to see where I'm going," he tells his team as sparks fly from underneath the car.

Hamilton also runs wide in T1 but goes on to post a 17.947. The speed with which his excursion is revealed suggests that, as in Hungary, sensors have been placed in the new kerbing.

A 17.863 sees Raikkonen go quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo and Alonso, as Vettel comes out to play.

Now the cynic would suggests that we are about to witness an old trick that used to be used at Monza, whereby the Ferraris put in a blistering performance on Friday in order to ensure bums on seats for the remainder of the weekend.

Raikkonen runs wide in T1 but subsequently retakes the top spot from Ricciardo (17.698) with a 17.627.

Vettel goes quickest with a 17.409 while countryman Rosberg posts 18.552 to go fifth.

As Grosjean becomes the latest driver to fall foul of the sensors at T1 - as does Raikkonen (again) - Rosberg goes quickest (17.136).

Rosberg is on the softs, as is Hamilton, who goes third, while Vettel and Raikkonen are on the supersofts. Perez and Hulkenberg, currently 11th and 13th, are on mediums.

Raikkonen complains that he doesn't know what is going on with his clutch.

As Rosberg goes purple in S1, the list of drivers who have run wide in T1 grows ever longer. Among them is Verstappen, who complains that his tyres are "gone after one lap already". He is currently on the softs.

Rosberg improves to 17.030.

At the 40 minute mark, when a set of tyres has to be handed back to Pirelli, it's: Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Verstappen, Sainz, Button and Bottas. Leclerc is currently 18th and Ocon 20th.

After a lull that lasts almost seven minutes an engine fires up an shortly after Rosberg heads down the pitlane, the German now on supers. He posts purples in all three sectors, improving from 17.030 to 15.517, that's 1.5s and there's probably more to come. Indeed, he is already a second quicker than pole time in 2014.

More drivers head out, including Hamilton, who is also of the supers. The Briton can only manage 15.843, 0.326s shy of his teammate.

In quick succession, Sainz, Ocon and Vettel run wide in T1, Hamilton joining the club (again) moments later.

PBs in all three sectors for Vettel, who remains third (16.907) but 1.390s off the pace.

Bottas improves to eighth with a 18.322, unusual to see a Williams in the top ten on a Friday.

By the way, if Ferrari is struggling, Ricciardo says his only hope of a decent result here is if it rains.

Check out our Friday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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