Verstappen finishes Friday fastest ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB14.
© XPB 

Max Verstappen put in the fastest lap of the day at Hockenheim ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix, to keep Red Bull at the top of the timesheets on Friday.

The Dutch driver posted a new track record time of 1:13.085s to put him narrowly ahead of the two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, followed by the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen's afternoon was subsequently interrupted after he reported a potential downshifting problem, but the team was able to swiftly effect repairs. His team mate Daniel Ricciardo is already heavily compromised with grid penalties this weekend.

German Grand Prix - Free Practice 2

1Max VerstappenRed Bull1:13.085s18
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:13.111s+ 0.026s39
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1:13.190s+ 0.105s39
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1:13.310s+ 0.225s46
5Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:13.427s+ 0.342s41
6Romain GrosjeanHaas1:13.973s+ 0.888s34
7Kevin MagnussenHaas1:14.189s+ 1.104s36
8Charles LeclercSauber1:14.374s+ 1.289s41
9Nico HülkenbergRenault1:14.496s+ 1.411s31
10Esteban OconForce India1:14.508s+ 1.423s39
11Sergio PérezForce India1:14.552s+ 1.467s38
12Carlos SainzRenault1:14.592s+ 1.507s43
13Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:14.682s+ 1.597s36
14Marcus EricssonSauber1:14.783s+ 1.698s38
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:14.793s+ 1.708s44
16Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:14.830s+ 1.745s45
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:14.836s+ 1.751s38
18Lance StrollWilliams1:15.269s+ 2.184s36
19Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:15.408s+ 2.323s41
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:15.454s+ 2.369s34

Temperatures were climbing nicely at Hockenheim, and the heat was definitely on as teams and drivers reconvened for the second Friday 90-minute session following a break for lunch.

After a brief pause, Carlos Sainz was the first man out on track on medium tyres when the pit lane lights went green. He had missed out on some running in the morning due to a water leak, and was eager to make up for lost time. Both he and his Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg reported vibrations on the R.S.18 that the race engineers put down to a tyre balancing issue.

Haas' Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to make a run on soft tyres, clocking in at 1:14.898s. That was soundly trumped by Sebastian Vettel by a full second despite the Ferrari sticking to the harder compound for its first post-lunch outing.

Kimi Raikkonen was also out for a flying lap, but he was 0.098s slower than his team mate despite being on the soft rubber. Shortly after, the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers started to get to work with Max Verstappen going top with a time of 1:13.356s which was three tenths faster than Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo was the last man to set a time just before the half hour mark. Already doomed to a back row start because of grid penalties, the Australian had no need to work on qualifying pace and could instead focus exclusively on distance runs. However he demonstrated how hard he was still pushing when he spun and briefly triggered local yellows after losing the back end of the RB14 in turn 8.

Once Ricciardo returned to pit lane and the yellow flags were withdrawn, Ferrari was able to make its first run on ultrasofts. Vettel duly went fastest with a run of 1:13.310s, but that was less than half a tenth faster than Verstappen's earlier time on the soft compound.

The two Mercedes drivers were able to move things on, Hamilton going top with a time of 1:13.111s on the ultras which was 0.079s faster than Bottas and a new track record for the modern Hockenheimring. It didn't stand for very long before Verstappen returned to the fray and punched in a lap of 1:13.085s

That proved to be effectively the final flying lap flourish before teams turned their attention to high fuel race simulations for the second half of the session. However Vettel and Hulkenberg in particular seemed to struggle to get their ultras to run long distances without suffering severe blistering in the high afternoon heat.

The session ran largely incident free, although there was a near-miss with half an hour to go when Sergey Sirotkin missed the apex into the hairpin turn 6. Ricciardo took that as an invitation to pass the Williams only to have the door slammed in his face. Contact was narrowly averted, with both cars going on their way.

Sirotkin subsequently had a solo run-off into the gravel at turn 13, from which he quickly recovered. He was by no means alone in that: both Hamilton and Verstappen also had routine run-offs during the afternoon.

Verstappen's day was disrupted when he was recalled to the team garage with a downshifting problem with half an hour to go. After some intensive work by the Red Bull mechanics he was able to return to the track for the final three minutes. Verstappen subsequently revealed that they had found a minor oil leak that had needed addressing.

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-18.

Best of the rest of the runners behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari was once again the Haas pairing of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. They finished the session in sixth and seventh ahead of Sauber's consistently impressive rookie driver Charles Leclerc.

Rounding out the top ten were Hulkenberg and Force India's Esteban Ocon, the latter making up for lost time after sitting out FP1 in favour of Nicholas Latifi. He was just ahead of his team mate Sergio Perez, with Sainz 12th ahead of Ricciardo.

Slowest in the session was McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, who after issues in FP1 had lost further time in the afternoon as mechanics checked the MCL33 for handling issues mid-session. He finished behind the Williams pair of Sirotkin and Lance Stroll.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter