tyres were unsurprisingly still the main talking point for many in the paddock with the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association) talking of a potential boycott if there was any sign of problems on track with Pirelli’s revised compounds.
There was likely a collective sigh of relief therefore and probably none more so than for Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, when Friday’s two sessions were completed with no reported safety issues from the teams or drivers regarding the tyres.
After FP1 was dominated by Mercedes, the afternoon session saw Red Bull Racing rise to the top with Sebastian Vettel setting the pace with a time of 1:30.416, set just after the half-hour mark. Two-tenths of a second behind Vettel, who set his time at the start of his first run with the yellow-banded soft Pirelli compound, came Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, narrowly in front of Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber.
Lotus took fourth and fifth with Romain Grosjean ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. Fernando Alonso shook off his morning’s electrical issues with his F138 and made up ground to finish sixth with teammate Felipe Massa three-thousandths of a second behind in seventh place. Lewis Hamilton, this morning’s pace setter, finished eighth in the second Mercedes, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button. Paul di Resta was tenth for Force India.
While the session started with Pirelli’s medium compound the most popular choice, the soft compound began to appear after short opening runs. Webber was the first of the front-runners to take on the softer rubber. Already fastest with a time 1:31.790, he immediately picked up a second to reset the benchmark at 1:30.874.
After the halfway point, drivers settled into long runs. Red Bull split their drivers, with Webber returning to the medium compound and Vettel running the soft tyre.
The overall impression from the session was that the soft tyre degrades at a much faster rate than the medium. Everyone managed a heavy schedule with most running more than 35 laps. The exception was Marussia’s Jules Bianchi who, suffering from illness, managed only ten laps during the 90 minutes.
German Grand Prix Free Practice Two Result
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:30.416
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.651 +0.235
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:30.683 +0.267
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:30.843 +0.427
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:30.848 +0.432
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:31.056 +0.640
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:31.059 +0.643
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.304 +0.888
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:31.568 +1.152
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1:31.797 +1.381
11 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:31.824 +1.408
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:31.855 +1.439
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:32.055 +1.639
14 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:32.086 +1.670
15 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:32.495 +2.079
16 Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1:32.762 +2.346
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:32.879 +2.463
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:32.880 +2.464
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1:33.695 +3.279
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:33.804 +3.388
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:34.017 +3.601
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:34.667 +4.251
Infiniti Red Bull Racing
“I wasn’t so happy with the car this morning and Mercedes were quick, but in the afternoon we were in better shape. We’ll see, but so far I am happy. To be clear about yesterday and the GPDA meeting: the general agreement was that we’re happy Pirelli bought a new specification of tyre for this event and want to thank them for their flexibility and reaction times – they were able to find a solution in only a couple of days. The circumstances that we raced under in Silverstone were not what we can accept, but I don’t think we will see those issues again.”
“It was okay today and we had dry weather, which was good – it meant we could get our runs done on both compounds and the new tyres seem okay. Pirelli have done what they can and gone back to tyres they know work here. It’s impossible to tell how they will affect the performance of the car – but it feels comfortable so far.”
“Today went better than last Friday and even if there is still a long way to go, in general we seem to
have made a step forward and returned to the level of competitiveness which we had prior to Silverstone.
One of the positives was the behaviour of the tyres which worked well today and did not create any problems. Unfortunately, we lost the morning session because of a programming problem on the electronic control unit, which we then changed. That halved our work programme and this evening we will have to do all we can to make up for it, but we already have an idea of where and how to make changes, because Mercedes, Red Bull and Lotus are ahead of us and we want something better than being the third or fourth team in the classification”.
“It was a particularly busy day, because we had a lot of things to test and we did as many laps as
possible in order to complete the programme. We split the time between assessing the Pirelli tyres
and a long run test. There is a big difference between the two compounds, caused by the high degradation of the Softs compared to the Mediums and it will be interesting to see how much
influence this will have in the race. As usual, choosing the right strategy will be very important.
Qualifying remains our weak point, because usually we are less competitive than in the race and
that’s why we will do our utmost to try and start from as far up the grid as possible. Over a long run,
the car behaved well and this makes me very confident for Sunday”.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“The car felt pretty good as soon as I drove out of the garage this morning. We’re still a way off the
front, but our pace relative to the cars around us doesn’t seem too bad. The overall feeling with the car is not so bad.
The Pirelli tyres are working very well here; obviously, the Option has much more grip than the Prime. It seems that the idea behind the two compounds is to give us a qualifying tyre that doesn’t last long – the Option – and a race tyre – the Prime. It’s not a bad compromise, we just need to deal with the tyre not lasting too long on Sunday. We won’t be challenging the cars at the front this weekend, but it would be nice to be able to attack the teams who are normally immediately ahead of us.”
“I think it’s been our best Friday for a couple of races – partly because of the dry weather, but also
because we got a useful amount of work under our belts. We’re still in the same situation as we were in last weekend – the potential of the car hasn’t changed dramatically – but I think we can fight tomorrow to get into Q3. That may still be hard, but that’s our target.”
Lotus F1 Team
“We tried quite a few things today; some were good and some were not, so we have a good idea of
what to do tomorrow. Our long run pace wasn’t as good as it could have been as we were running with a different setup which would have taken too long to change back during the session, but we now know which setup works better so it’s not a worry. The rear tyres weren’t much different, but we already knew that from when we tried them in Canada.”
“We had a pretty good day today. We ran the Device in the morning to gather some data then went
back to our previous package for the afternoon, where we played with the setup a little but spent most
of the time analysing the new tyres. We made a step forward with the upgrades that were brought to
Silverstone, and we’re seeing the benefit here as well. Getting temperature into the tyres can be a bit
tricky for us in colder conditions, but today it wasn’t an issue which is a good sign. It’s only free practice, but the car feels ok so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team
“It’s a great track and a lot of fun to drive here with my current Silver Arrow. It was an interesting day
for us as we had to adapt to the new tyres. They are different and require a different set-up, so today
was a good opportunity to learn something. We want to understand them quicker and better than the
other teams. Generally it seems that we are quick again over one lap and the long run was not bad.
It’s difficult to predict where we are, because you never know exactly about the fuel levels of the
others. Also it’s going to get warmer on Sunday and this could change also the whole picture again.”
“It’s been a reasonable day of practice for us. This morning went pretty well and the car felt good, but
then we made some changes which didn’t quite work out for us this afternoon. The car felt a little off
balance during P2 so we’ll have a look into that overnight and probably backtrack on some of those
changes for tomorrow. I’m sure we will be back on form for P3.”
Sauber F1 Team
“Finally a Friday with consistent weather conditions. We were able to work through the whole
programme without any difficulties. We tested a lot of different things, and I think the positions we are at reflect where we can be with the speed we currently have. However, there is still some room to improve the set-up of the car. So now we have to have a good look at the data in order to get the maximum out of the car. Tomorrow will be another dry day and, of course, I will do everything possible to get into Q3.”
“I think it was a very productive day. We managed to run through the whole programme without any
problems. We were trying different se- ups, which varied a lot, so it was tricky switching between the
different ones. This was something we don’t usually do, but at the end we gained valuable information. The day went well and it seems our performance in the long runs has improved. With all the data we gathered, I think we made a step forward.”
Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team
“It was quite a good day and the car looks competitive with a similar performance level compared to the last few races. We are back on the soft tyres here, which offer good grip but have very high
degradation. They are nice to drive and will be a very good qualifying tyre, but long runs were quite
difficult. The medium tyre performs well and is very consistent, so there is a good combination for the
Paul Di Resta
“Quite a tricky session with lots to think about overnight. There’s room to improve the set-up because
I’m not feeling as comfortable as I usually do. Tyre-wise we’ve done a lot of running across the two
compounds to give us enough data to understand the impact of the new rear tyres. The two
compounds are different extremes so we need to make sure we can get both in the right operating
Williams F1 Team
“We were running some mechanical tests in the car today and we got some good data in terms of
looking at how the car set-up should be for the weekend. The temperatures will be a bit warmer on
Saturday and Sunday, so we need to make the most out of the tyres on both days. The gap between
our car and the others hasn’t changed much but we’ll do our best with what we have to see if we can
find something more for tomorrow.”
“It wasn’t a great day for us but the feeling in the car was better during FP1 than the previous race.
We were trying different set-ups and rear wings across both cars, but we still need more speed to
close the gap to the cars ahead. I like this circuit and the track conditions were improving every lap.
We need to analyse what we found today to make further changes to improve for tomorrow.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
“We had quite a smooth day with no troubles on the car or with the tyres and I managed to do a lot of
laps. We don’t seem to have quite the pace we saw last week in Silverstone, when we had a good
weekend. It would be nice to continue like that, but we knew this circuit would not be quite so
favourable to us. I’d need to look at our competitors’ lap times to get a better understanding of where
we really are in the order. My final sector seemed quite strong, but we were lacking in the first one,
which only has a few corners so we need to find some more pace. My long run felt okay, but there is a
margin to improve and if can come up with some ideas for fine tuning the set-up overnight, I think we
can improve tomorrow.”
“It’s my first time driving a Formula 1 car at this track, but that had no effect on my day. The different
type of tyre is performing more or less as we had expected and from the safety point of view, we saw
no signs of problems, so that is a positive thing. In terms of the car’s pure performance, we need to
work a lot overnight, because we are not where we wanted to be. Even if we knew the Nurburgring
configuration would not suit us so well, I am reasonably hopeful that we can find some things to do to
the car to improve for the rest of the weekend.”
Caterham F1 Team
“I said before we arrived here that this is my favourite track and I’m pleased we’ve had a good Friday
here, a solid day where we’ve clearly made a bit of progress. We started FP1 with more aero work,
running a couple of laps with flow-viz to continue the evaluation of the updates we brought to
Silverstone and here where we have some more refinements to the brake ducts. After that we began
the full programme and at the start we were having issues bringing the front tyres up to temperature.
The track conditions were ok, cooler than it looks like it’ll be on Sunday, so that’ll obviously change
the way the tyres behave in the race, but we worked on that on run three and made some progress
in setup for tomorrow.
Over lunch we made a couple of changes to ride height and the rear anti-roll bar and at the start of FP2 we went straight into a six lap first run and immediately found we had a better aero balance. That carried on to the performance run on the options and by then I was pretty happy with the way the car was performing. It was the same on the long runs. The pace was consistent on the options and good on the primes with pretty low deg on both and when the session finished I think everyone was quite happy with the work we did today. We definitely needed a clear Friday to help us catch up with the workload we had from Silverstone and back to Canada. Fridays are obviously so important and with the mileage we covered today we’ve set ourselves up well for Saturday and Sunday. Now we need to carry this momentum through to the rest of the weekend and with the race pace we have I’m really looking forward to seeing where we are on Sunday.”
Giedo van der Garde
“Overall it’s been a good day for us, starting with FP1 which was a good session. We ran a couple
more aero programmes at the start and a number of new ideas across the car, including the brakes
where we’ve gone for a new setup that looks like it’s working well as I was almost immediately able
to brake later and harder.
In general the first couple of runs were dominated by understeer so we spent a bit of time dialling that out and by the end of the session the car was behaving relatively well.
One real positive from FP1 was something we tried on the rear that gave me good grip on the throttle
on corner exits. This track is mostly low to medium speed corners so good traction out of them is
important, so that’s something we’ll want to maintain for the whole weekend. For FP2 we started with
a different floor, so we could run more comparison tests with the new version we had at Silverstone.
The car still had a bit too much understeer but we made a couple of mechanical changes and by the
time we tried the options for the first time the car was getting better and better. On the long run we
had reasonable deg levels and by the end of the session I have to say I was pretty happy with where
we were. We’ve had much better weather here than we had on Friday in Canada or Silverstone and
that’s definitely helped us catch up with the aero work we needed to do. That’s given us a lot of data
to work through tonight and we’ll aim to find another step tomorrow. It looks like we have some clear
air to the team behind us and we’ve definitely made a bit of a gain to Williams here, so more hard
work overnight and this could be a good weekend for us.”
Marussia F1 Team
“Today was a very short day for me, which is unfortunate. It was already scheduled some time ago that
Rodolfo would drive in FP1 and as things turned out that enabled me to rest and hopefully feel better.
This afternoon I completed two runs in FP2 – 10 laps in total – but I was not feeling my best, so it was
better to stop and properly recuperate. I hope after a good night’s sleep I will be back on form
“The timesheets don’t paint the full picture in a day where I’ve actually been reasonably comfortable
with the car. This morning I was pleased to split the Caterhams and this afternoon we focused more on long run pace in preparation for Sunday. Tomorrow in qualifying we will have a better idea of our
outright pace here versus the competition, but for now I am pleased with the general direction.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director
“The drivers got the chance to assess both the compounds today with the new construction. It was a successful session and most teams got plenty of work done, which puts them in a strong position going into qualifying and the race.
We’ve seen quite high levels of degradation from the soft compound but it is a very quick tyre and it should be the selected qualifying tyre tomorrow with the main race tyre being the medium tyre. The performance gap between the two compounds is around 1.5s and we are expecting now with what we have seen two pit stops in Sunday’s race.” By James foreman