German GP | Rosberg tops FP1 with Ferrari and Red Bull a second off the pace

First free practice at the German Grand Prix topped by Nico Rosberg.

Halo postponed, but a German on top was not as Nico Rosberg topped the opening practice session at the Hockenheimring. With a lap time already one-second faster than pole two years ago, Rosberg edged out Hamilton to top the opening 90-minutes. While Ferrari edged Red Bull in the battle for second-best.

The first practice session for the 2016 German Grand Prix got underway with birthday boy Fernando Alonso celebrating his 35th birthday by opening the times with a 1:18.817.

Although his personal best lap would be one-second faster, Fernando’s opening time took some beating by the leaders as they lapped slower in the initial stages.

Raikkonen, Hamilton and Ricciardo, though, demoted the McLaren as the lap times improved. With Rosberg topping the first stage of the session with soft tyres fitted.

Rosberg, on softs, was running in contrast to the Ferrari’s. With the Italian team working exclusively on supersoft rubber for all bar their installation laps.

Talking tyres, Verstappen was struggling for tyre life with the soft compound. Stating “I really have no rear tyres. After one lap they are gone already.” Added to his tyre life woes, Verstappen found the ride height of his Red Bull to be too low, resulting in vision impairments.

Following the mid-session tyre swap, Rosberg returned to the track with supersoft tyres of his own. Leading to gains of over a second to create a 1.9-second buffer to Vettel.

Vettel did later regain some ground to Rosberg to end the 90-minutes 1.1-seconds off his fellow German’s pace.

Hamilton, on the other hand, ended the 90-minutes of FP1 three-tenths of a second down to his team-mate having lost two-tenths in the first sector.

Throughout the first practice session, multiple drivers found themselves taking the turn one run-off as they pushed the track limits.

Yesterday’s F1 strategy group meeting did discuss the possible relaxation of track limit penalties, as it is hard to judge whether an advantage was gained or not.

But as things stand, track limits are still being monitored. Especially at turn one where a timing loop, like used in Hungary, has been placed to monitor drivers running wide.

The key discussion carried out at the strategy group meeting, meanwhile, was the future of Formula One’s cockpit protection device – the Halo.

After drivers were shown a presentation in Hungary suggesting the Halo provides 17% better protection from life-threatening incidents, some drivers felt it would be right to introduce the device.

But after the strategy group met, a decision was made to postpone its introduction till at least 2018 to allow for further development and refinement – to the Halo or another device such as Red Bull’s Aeroscreen.

This is down to the device still yet to be track tested other than a few installation laps by Ferrari and a brief run by Red Bull in the post-British Grand Prix in-season test.

As well as limited running, the device is still yet to answer questions of if it would be able to protect drivers in other instances or if it would cause a higher risk to the driver. Instances such as Massa in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix when he suffered a skull fracture from a spring detaching from Barrichello’s Brawn.

Following yesterday’s meeting, an FIA issued statement read: “It was decided that owing to the relatively short timeframe until the commencement of the 2017 Formula 1 season it would be prudent to use the remainder of this year and early next year to further evaluate the full potential of all options before final confirmation,”
“This will include undertaking multiple on-track tests of the ‘Halo’ system in practice sessions during the rest of this season and during the first part of the 2017 season.

Pos Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Nico Rosberg 32 1’15.517
2 Lewis Hamilton 30 1’15.843 0.326
3 Sebastian Vettel 29 1’16.667 1.15
4 Kimi Raikkonen 23 1’16.852 1.335
5 Max Verstappen 29 1’16.927 1.41
6 Daniel Ricciardo 30 1’17.089 1.572
7 Fernando Alonso 18 1’17.183 1.666
8 Jenson Button 15 1’17.612 2.095
9 Daniil Kvyat 25 1’18.008 2.491
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. 22 1’18.044 2.527
11 Marcus Ericsson 28 1’18.198 2.681
12 Valtteri Bottas 37 1’18.210 2.693
13 Felipe Massa 33 1’18.322 2.805
14 Romain Grosjean 20 1’18.589 3.072
15 Nico Hulkenberg 35 1’18.591 3.074
16 Sergio Perez 29 1’18.628 3.111
17 Charles Leclerc 32 1’18.882 3.365
18 Kevin Magnussen 35 1’18.933 3.416
19 Felipe Nasr 22 1’18.961 3.444
20 Esteban Ocon 30 1’18.981 3.464
21 Rio Haryanto 34 1’19.167 3.65
22 Pascal Wehrlein 33 1’19.975 4.458