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Rosberg quickest in final practice


Ahead of today's sole free practice session the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

Nico Rosberg was quickest in both of yesterday's session, and in each case he was 0.3s clear of his teammate. This, and the fact that he was winner last time out here, in 2014, must make him a good bet for this afternoon and tomorrow.

However, it's fair to say that the action on track was dominated by the action off track... literally.

While the paddock got to grips with the results of Thursday's Strategy Group meeting, which sees the Halo shelved until 2018, the radio rules virtually done away with, the stopping of qualifying under yellow flags and the possible return of standing (re)starts in the wet, it was the FIA's continued crackdown on track limits that dominated proceedings.

Shortly after FP1, Race Director, Charlie Whiting issued the following: "During P1 many drivers appeared to make little or no effort to stay on the track on the exit of turn 1, in fact, one driver left the track 14 times," wrote Whiting. "Therefore, for P2 and P3 any driver who is judged to have left the track three times at turn 1 will be reported to the stewards for not having made every reasonable effort to use the track.

"However, if we are satisfied that a driver left the track at this point for reasons beyond his control such a crossing will not be counted towards his total in the session."

Said driver, by the way, was Max Verstappen, and while there have yet to be any drivers punished, we have a distinct feeling that this may be about to change.

While Sebastian Vettel was third quickest, 0.594s off the pace, there are concerns as to tyre degradation on the Ferraris.

Again the Red Bulls looked strong, as did the Force Indias, again adopting an alternative tyre strategy, whilst McLaren is also looking strong.

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 are medium, soft and supersoft.

The lights go green and Palmer head Gutierrez off to work.

In no time at all there are 16 drivers on track The Ferraris, Ricciardo and Rosberg among them.

Palmer gets things underway with a 20.750, though Wehrlein posts 18.945 moments later.

Grosjean, who seems to spend all his time complaining these days, is unhappy when Hamilton is released into his path in the pitlane. "Interesting from Mercedes," he sighs "I had to stop the car..."

Meanwhile Verstappen (softs) goes quickest (17.106) but this is soon beaten by Massa and the Bottas (16.889), both of whom are on supers.

No sooner has Vettel gone quickest (16.443), than he is demoted to third by Rosberg and Hamilton (16.015). All three are on the supers.

The stewards are investigating the Grosjean/Hamilton 'unsafe release' incident.

Kvyat complains of a brake issue, he claims they are "pulling".

A massive lock-up for Rosberg in T2 as he attempts to close the 0.119s gap to his teammate.

A moment for Grosjean who loses the Haas at T3 for no apparent reason and takes a big trip across the grass. Back on track he gingerly makes his way back to the pits.

"Guys are you sure the aero is correct?" he says. "I almost stopped, oh the gearbox, I don't know what is happening."

A guest of Mercedes yesterday, today Mick Schumacher is with Ferrari. Renault (formerly Benetton) tomorrow?

Following his eye problem yesterday, Button has yet to post a time. He's done one installation lap but that's it. Magnussen and Ricciardo have also yet to post a time.

Along with the usual messages from Race control concerning drivers running wide in T1, the alert following Raikkonen's off is accompanied by the message 'no advantage'.

Hamilton ups the ante with a 15.795, putting the magic 0.3s between himself and teammate Rosberg.

A 16.182 sees Verstappen go third.

As Perez runs wide in T1 and tells his crew he has some damage to the front of his car, Verstappen complains that his battery is not charging.

With twenty-five minutes remaining, Button and Ricciardo are on track. The Australian goes eighth (17.051) and the Briton (20th (18.419) as he complains of a "very loose rear". And we don't mean another infection.

Quickest in the first and final sectors, Rosberg goes quickest (15.738) by 0.057s. Elsewhere, Vettel and Hamilton run wide in T1 but again "no advantage".

Bernie Ecclestone appears in the Mercedes garage where he has a chat with Niki Lauda.

As Kvyat is told to pit for a change of balaclava (???), Button pits and among other things says his ear plugs are not working. The Briton also has a lack of rear grip and understeer.

A scrappy lap from Hamilton which sees mistakes in T1 and T6.

"Team has determined a gearbox change is in order for Grosjean's car," reveals Haas.

On the supers, Bottas goes quickest in S2, finally crossing the line at 16.400 to go fifth. A very strong second sector from the Finn.

With 14 minutes remaining, attention will now switch to qualifying. Ricciardo, currently seventh, has the most work to do it would appear.

PBs in all three sectors see Raikkonen improve to third, just 0.164s off Rosberg's best. Impressive stuff from the Iceman.

Massa improves to sixth with a 16.630 while Hulkenberg can only manage tenth (16.972).

Ricciardo goes quickest in S2, subsequently crossing the line at 15.837 to go third.

With three minutes remaining, almost all are on track bar Rosberg who appears to have settled for his time. Drinking from a bottle of water, the German watches his teammate's progress... or lack of it.

Perez posts PBs in all three sectors to go 14th (17.268) following his earlier damage to the Force India.

As was the case yesterday, Hamilton makes a very, very late call on diving into the pits. Replay shows the incident was caused by the Briton being caught out by an uncommitted Manor driver.

Camera picks up on front wing damage to Vettel's car, the German having run wide in T10 and damaged the front in the process. Indeed, the German was running behind teammate Raikkonen at the time.

The session ends with Rosberg quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas, Massa, Alonso and Hulkenberg.

Sainz is eleventh, ahead of Perez, Gutierrez, Kvyat, Magnussen, Palmer, Ericsson, Nasr, Button, Wehrlein, Haryanto and Grosjean.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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