German Grand Prix practice: Leclerc leads another Ferrari one-two

Charles Leclerc edged out his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel as Mercedes came up short on single-lap pace in second practice for Formula 1's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim

German Grand Prix practice: Leclerc leads another Ferrari one-two

Leclerc's 1m13.449s lap, set on soft tyres during a qualifying simulation run mid-session, was 0.124 seconds faster than Vettel's best, with Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes just 0.022s further adrift.

In a session that may well prove redundant if the weather changes as dramatically as expected on Sunday, Hockenheim sweltered in ambient temperatures ranging up to 37C and the surface temperature of the track itself spiked to 51C.

Rapid tyre degradation therefore became an issue as several teams spent the early phase of the session experimenting with shorter runs on tyres at the harder end of the spectrum.

Single-lap pace was proving tricky to unlock since the tyres required delicate management before, during and after any 'push' laps; drivers migrating to the soft tyres later in the session found they had to run up to two achingly slow cool-down laps between faster efforts.

Morning pacesetter Ferrari went straight back to the top of the timesheets early on as Leclerc - despite a brief complaint about the positioning of his brake pedal - set an initial benchmark of 1m14.523s on the hard-compound Pirellis, eclipsing a 1m14.804s set by Vettel on mediums.

But when the Mercedes emerged, Hamilton displaced them with a 1m14.074s set on mediums, followed by a 1m14.467s for hard-shod Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen also got between the Ferraris during the opening half hour until Vettel bolted on a set of soft tyres and broke through the 1m14s barrier, clocking up a 1m13.573s that was rapidly eclipsed by Leclerc's soft-shod riposte of 1m13.449s.

Verstappen couldn't get as close to the Ferraris when he took on soft rubber, although he reported a power issue that required examination in the pits. His team-mate Pierre Gasly proved unable to summon a properly fast lap from the softs and his best of 1m15.089s left him well outside the top 10.

When Hamilton and Bottas moved on to the softer rubber they fell just short of the Ferraris on their first attempts at 'push' laps, and Hamilton bailed out of a second flier when it became apparent there wouldn't be a decent time at the end of it. Bottas's best was 0.662s off Leclerc's benchmark.

Vettel then went back out on medium tyres for a long run but aborted that after just four timed laps, saying, "We're not learning anything from this." He then joined the rest of the frontrunners in doing race-simulation runs on the soft rubber; for the majority of the top 10 this entailed circulating at 6s a lap off qualifying pace.

The session was briefly red-flagged with 16 minutes remaining when Gasly looped his Red Bull under acceleration out of the final bend and speared into the barriers hard enough to trigger a deployment of the medical car.

It restarted with nine minutes left on the clock, enough to allow a flurry of track activity that yielded little in the way of laptime improvement since most of the runners bar Vettel were out on medium or hard tyres.

Verstappen ended the session in sixth, two-hundredths shy of Bottas, while Romain Grosjean was 'best of the rest' for Haas with a 1m14.179s he set mid-session during a qualifying run on softs.

Just behind Grosjean, Racing Point's Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen also cracked the top 10 with their quali-simulation efforts on the soft tyres.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest of the Renault pairing with a 1m14.472s set on soft rubber midway through the session, but he was then left stranded in the pitlane when his car stuck in neutral as he lined up to perform a practice start.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had an eventful session, locking up and going off at Turn 2 early on while running on the mediums. His soft-tyre qualifying simulation of 1m15.010s left him separated from Hulkenberg by Sergio Perez's Racing Point, the McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso.

Practice two times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m13.449s - 33
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m13.573s 0.124s 30
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m13.595s 0.146s 30
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m14.111s 0.662s 30
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m14.133s 0.684s 23
6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m14.179s 0.730s 33
7 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m14.268s 0.819s 32
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m14.458s 1.009s 33
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m14.472s 1.023s 26
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m14.518s 1.069s 30
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m14.662s 1.213s 34
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m14.800s 1.351s 39
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m15.010s 1.561s 33
14 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m15.062s 1.613s 36
15 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m15.089s 1.640s 19
16 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m15.247s 1.798s 29
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m15.406s 1.957s 31
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m15.470s 2.021s 28
19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m16.900s 3.451s 27
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m16.980s 3.531s 26

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