German Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo to start from back of grid as narrowest of margins separate drivers

Hamilton and Bottas were in action after signing new deals to stay at Mercedes

Ricciardo needed a third energy store in his powertrain
Ricciardo needed a third energy store in his powertrain

Once again, the closeness of practice times here at Hockenheim holds out hope for another multi-car fight in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.

The days when the one big question was which Mercedes driver would triumph are long gone, and the signs are that Red Bull could also be running close to the front on the truncated track. It’s been a bittersweet day for the Milton Keynes team, however.

Daniel Ricciardo set the pace in the first practice session, fractions ahead of Hamilton, with 1m 13.525s to 1m 13.529s and Max Verstappen did likewise in the afternoon with 1m 13.085s to 1m 13.111s. But behind their pace lay problems.

The Australian will start from the back of the grid after his current Renault powertrain was fitted with third motor generator unit - kinetic (MGU-K), a third energy store and a third control electronics.

“We knew that it was coming,” Ricciardo said with resigned cheerfulness, “so it was better to take the hit here and have the car the way we want it in Hungary next week, where we think we’ll be in a better position to go after the win.

“The pace was pretty good today. This morning I was quick and Max was fastest this afternoon while I focussed on long runs. We are looking quite good but obviously, I’ll be starting somewhere down at the back on Sunday due to the engine penalties.”

After spinning early in the second practice session he focused on setting up his car for longer-runs, planning to optimise it for the race rather than single-lap qualifying speed.

“The priority today was to get a good race car as the reality is that qualifying will be irrelevant for me and we’re going to be passing a fair few cars on Sunday. The race run I did just now was pretty good and the car feels strong. Whether one car starts at the front and one car at the back, if we have a fast car it is still motivating for Sunday.”

Meanwhile, the Dutchman also had a minor off-track moment, and later stopped early after complaining about a nasty noise from his engine on downshifts partway through the same session. He was able to return to the track with five minutes remaining, however, once a small oil leak had been rectified.

“In summary, a pretty good Friday,” he said. “I feel like we have a good balance with the car which shows by topping second practice. It was a nice surprise to start so competitively here but we have to remember it’s only Friday.”

Hamilton, meanwhile, was relatively happy with his car’s single-lap pace, but complained later on during his race-distance runs.

“I feel like I’m wasting my engine out here,” he told his crew, who replied: “We are definitely learning.”

(AFP/Getty Images

After his weak start at Silverstone, where he got too much wheelspin, Hamilton suggested that Ferrari have improved recently in that area.

“It’s important that we just keep doing what we are doing, and that there are always things going on in the background at the factory,” he said. “A loss always creates more focus to help us move forward. Now we need to work on our starts again, because in the last three or four races Ferrari have definitely been doing something different, to improve theirs.

“The car was feeling good, but it’s very close, so there's lots of work to do tonight. We've been working on our starts, making sure to get a better understanding of the tyres and tyre temperatures and trying to be as perfect as we can in that area. Both Ferrari and Red Bull were very quick today and I think it will be very similar tomorrow and on Sunday. It's going to be a serious challenge and it's not an easy track to get right, so we will have to give it everything.”

He and team-mate Valtteri Bottas seemed well matched with Red Bull and Ferrari on single-lap runs, and their pace and over longer runs looked similar, too.

Earlier today Mercedes confirmed that the Finn, who could have won three races this year with only slightly better luck, would race for them again in 2019, with an option on the team’s side for 2020 too.

As is often the case, the Ferraris weren’t pacesetters on a Friday. Vettel ended the second session just 0.225s adrift of Verstappen, however, and traditionally the red cars go faster on a Saturday, so expect them to be in the mix too, tomorrow.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in