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Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 in opening practice


Ahead of today's opening session, the air temperature is 32 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39.9 degrees. While it extremely hot today, temperatures are expected to fall tomorrow and Sunday, however, this will mean rain.

Mercedes, which has admitted concern at the current temperatures, will be delighted to hear the forecasts for the remainder of the weekend.

As expected, a number of teams have brought updates, most notably Racing Point and Williams, while Mercedes is also showing no signs of easing up, having also brought a significant raft of updates.

While some have described Racing Points upgrade package as a 'B car', the Silverstone outfit is playing things down, while the updates at Williams will only be available to Robert Kubica today as the team carries out back-to-back testing.

Though most of the team have updates of one sort or another, we're sure that none can accommodate Max Verstappen's request for air conditioning in his car.

First out is Verstappen, the Red Bull sporting a massive aero rake. He is followed by Albon, Norris, Vettel and Gasly.

As more drivers head out there is an equal measure of softs and mediums, while Sainz is sporting the hards.

The Spaniard posts the first time of the weekend, a 17.939, while Gasly posts a 21.200. The Frenchman complains of a severe vibration - which is obvious by the way his voice is distorted - to the extent that he can't touch the brakes and the steering wheel is shaking. He pits.

In the Toro Rosso garage mechanics are removing the Halo on Albon's car, while, nine minutes in, only the Mercedes pair have yet to make an appearance.

Twelve minutes in and Norris heads out again, the Briton sporting softs. Following another install lap he pits, Kubica heading out to keep the fans 'entertained'.

The Pole is followed by Russell and Magnussen.

Unfortunately there's an early issue for the Dane, who stops on track. As the session is red flagged, Magnussen reveals that he lost power after an alarm.

Rather than push the car to the side of the track, the Haas is given a tow back to the pits, which means we could see Magnussen back on track again before the end of the session. Guenther Steiner believes it to be an engine sensor issue.

The session resumes, and Bottas is one of the first out, and as others follow so too does teammate Hamilton.

Verstappen goes quickest with a 16.100, and while Sainz improves to 16.916, Raikkonen goes third with a 17.288.

As Bottas posts 14.828, Magnussen is back on track.

Hamilton goes second with a 15.563, like his teammate he is on the softs, whereas Verstappen is on mediums.

"Is there anything we can do?" asks Grosjean as he encounters understeer at low speeds.

Leclerc goes fourth (15.759) and Vettel fifth (16.172), both on the softs.

"This track is really dirty," complains Hamilton, "the car feels quite strange, I can't get the tyres working."

Despite running wide as he enters the stadium, Leclerc improves to second with a 15.121. Bottas raises the bar with a 14.805.

Hulkenberg is currently best of the rest, ahead of Ricciardo, Perez, Grosjean and Sainz.

A mistake in the final corner sees Bottas take full advantage of the generous run-off.

As Gasly goes 14th (16.949), and Kvyat sixth (16.122), Albon is the only driver yet to post a time.

Verstappen reports that his medium tyres are overheating "massively".

A little hand waving as Vettel passes Hamilton, the German possibly feeling that the Briton had impeded him.

Early days, but both Racing Points are in the top ten, Perez sixth and Stroll ninth, both on the mediums.

A 14.853 sees Hamilton retake second from Leclerc.

As we reach the point where the extra set of tyres have to be handed back, Russell has the track to himself.

In the Mercedes garage, an errant front tyre sensor has come loose and has to be fixed in place with gaffa tape.

As he improves to 18th (17.126), Russell is joined by Norris and Grosjean, the McLaren driver improving to seventh with a 15.616.

Back on track, despite a weak opening sector, Bottas goes quickest in S2, but fails to improve after running wide in the final corner.

Moments later, Hamilton goes quickest with a 14.315, the Briton quickest of all in the final sector, despite running slightly wide. Both are on the mediums.

Sainz goes third on the softs, the Spaniard stopping the clock at 15.062.

"It only takes about 20 seconds to make a pit stop, which makes it one of the shortest pit stops of the year," reveals Pirelli. "As a result, it's not too much of a problem to make more than one stop here."

Grosjean goes fourth with a 15.074, as Stroll goes seventh.

As Leclerc goes quickest in S1, Hamilton raises the bar with a 14.315.

As Raikkonen complains about traffic and slow cars, Hamilton does well to avoid a very slow Racing Point as he enters the stadium.

On softs, Leclerc goes quickest, crossing the line at 14.268.

"We need to go back to where we started," says Hulkenberg, the German clearly unhappy with his set-up.

Gasly improves to fifth with a 14.813 on softs, and Verstappen third (14.330), as Vettel slips to ninth.

Kubica improves to 19th with a 16.559, over half a second quicker than his teammate who doesn't have the latest updates.

Vettel goes quickest in S1, following up with a PB in the second sector. At the line the German posts 14.013 to go quickest.

Both Alfas are almost 2s off the pace, with the Toro Rossos and Hulkenberg also appearing to struggle.

While the Mercedes pair go for double slow laps in a bid to aid cooling, Verstappen is told to do a triple slow lap.

Stroll is very unhappy at Leclerc who he says "turned in at really high speed", "that was dangerous," he adds.

"There is a problem somewhere," reports Hulkenberg, "very, very low rear grip."

Meanwhile Bottas is advised that he's "overheating at both ends". The Finn subsequently runs wide as he enters the stadium, kicking up a cloud of dust.

As Vettel pushes to the absolute limit, Bottas goes off at the same point the German's race came to an end twelve months ago. However, the Finn is able to drive through the gravel and continue.

Meanwhile, a perfect 360 for Ricciardo at T1 after going wide and running over the kerbs.

"The tyres are pretty flat-spotted," he reports in his best Dalek impersonation. "Yeh, I can hear that," comes the reply.

The session ends. Vettel is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Gasly, Sainz, Grosjean, Stroll and Ricciardo.

Perez is eleventh, ahead of Norris, Magnussen, Kvyat, Albon, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Kubica and Russell.

Check out our Friday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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