Practice 2: Maldonado fastest as rain arrives in force at Hockenheim
20 July, 2012
Jul.20 (Apex) The afternoon session at Hockenheim started with rain bucketing down, then it stopped and the track started to dry rapidly but 50 minutes into the session, just as the times were dropping, and slicks were being considered, the heavens opened up again and after the ninety minutes it was Pastor Maldonado who topped the timing screens in the Williams FW34.
The second free practice, of the German Grand Prix weekend, ended dramatically as local hero and legend, Michael Schumacher clipped synthetic grass on the exit of Mobil 1 Kurve and slammed the wall on the grand stand side on entry in to the stadium.
It was a violent impact that looked to have caused extensive damage to both front and rear of the Mercedes, but the seven times world champion jumped out, took off his helmet, grinned and gave a wave to the crowd. There were a couple of minutes left to run in FP2 when the incident took place.
Earlier, Maldonado set the best time of 1 minute 27.476 running on intermediates with most of the lap dry, with some puddles here and there. But as he crossed the line to go top of the timing screens the rain came down again.
Prior to that, just about every time a driver crossed the start/finish line his name shot to the top of the timing screens, Maldonado’s timing was such that he was last to do so with the track at its quickest during the session.
Nico Rosberg was second quickest in the Mercedes AMG W03 with Sebastian Vettel third quickest in the Red Bull RB8.
Sauber, who have already shone in such conditions, were quick with Sergio Perez ending fourth quickest and again much faster than his increasingly beleaguered teammate Kamui Kobayashi who was down in 13th.
Romain Grosjean was sixth fastest, but the Lotus drover dived into the pits at the end of a very hot lap which would probably have topped the timing screens had he completed it. He was again quicker than teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who ended the session 10th best.
Evidently enjoying himself on home turf was Nico Hulkenberg who was sixth fastest in the Force India, faster than teammate Paul di Resta who was forced to sit out the morning session for Jules Bianchi. The Scot was down in 18th. Clearly in conditions such as these, a driver missing the opening session of the weekend is immediately on the back foot.
A similar fate afflicted Bruno Senna who also sat out the morning session for Valterri Bottas to do duty in the cockpit. Adding insult to injury, Bottas slammed the wall with the Williams. Senna returned to the cockpit for the afternoon stint, ending the session 16th – his teammate Maldonado fastest of all – case closed!
Daniel Ricciardo’s session also ended in the stadium area, as he got it wrong into Sachs Curve and beached the Toro Rosso in the gravel. Prior to that he was impressive, given the conditions, and ended seventh fastest.
After topping the morning session, Jenson Button was only good for the eighth fastest time in the afternoon, with Lewis Hamilton, second in the morning, down in 19th.
British GP winner Mark Webber, having what appeared to be a subdued day, was ninth on the timing screens.
In an indication of how volatile the final ten minutes of dry(ish) running was – Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Hamilton all topped the timing screens at one point yet in the space of a few minutes they dropped down to 12th, 20th and 19th respectively!
All in all a frustrating day at Hockenheim, with very limited dry running and the prospect of rain looming for the second race weekend in a row. One can only hope that race day is glorious as it was at Silverstone two weeks ago.
Subbed by AJN.
German Grand Prix Free Practice 1 – Friday, 20 July 2012
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:27.902||0.426||24|
|6||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:28.495||1.019||22|
|9||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:28.877||1.401||21|
|18||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:30.437||2.961||14|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:42.566||15.090||8|
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