Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari was the fastest on Friday in practice at the German Formula One Grand Prix, beating his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who had been the fastest in the first session.
The Monegasque rider overtook local hero Vettel by 0.124 seconds in the second round, which took place on the hot asphalt of the Hockenheim circuit, marking the best lap of one minute and 13.449 seconds.
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes wore a special decoration to celebrate 125 years of German brand involvement with the world of sports motoring, finished third in both sessions.
The Brit, who is 39 points ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and has won seven of the 10 races to date, achieved his best time in the morning on medium compound tyres compared to the fast soft tyres used by Ferrari drivers.
In the second half he used the same rubbers used by his rivals to set his best time, insinuating that the Italian team has a real advantage – albeit a slight one – in the hottest conditions of the afternoon.
Bottas finished the fourth day. The Finn had been fifth in the morning, after coming out on the gravel with his car, and finished half a second behind his teammate. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull finished fifth after finishing fourth in the first leg, ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas.
Mexican Sergio Perez was eleventh in the morning with his Racing Point, while in the afternoon he climbed one place.
Temperatures on the track during the second practice reached 50 degrees and the atmosphere felt more than 35 degrees. Hamilton warned on Thursday that Mercedes – whose only defeat of the season was in the hot Austrian Grand Prix – could suffer under the heat.
Saturday’s storms are expected and there is a high chance of rain for Sunday’s race, which could tip the performance pendulum back toward the Mercedes side.