German GP - Second practice
Despite a light shower once again early in the second practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend, the rains held off as the dark clouds moved overhead and Lewis Hamilton vaulted to the head of the timesheets in his McLaren Mercedes.
a raft of aero updates including a new front wing, floor and diffuser rushed in from the Woking facility for this race weekend, Hamilton ran inside the top ten for much of the session before working his way up to third position. A late push on the softer option tyre saw him move fastest of all to give the team overnight bragging rights at a very important venue for team partner Mercedes-Benz.
As the track temperature increased and the racers continued to lay rubber, the times in the second session proved considerably faster than this morning. Armed with the option tyre, most made big gains but Hamilton aside it was unusual to see those gains mid-session rather than just ahead of the chequered flag.
Red Bull Renault continue to show well at the Nurburgring with Sebastian Vettel second fastest and team-mate Mark Webber fourth. Vettel, who lost time this morning with an electric fault on his RB5, set the early pace ahead of the light rain shower. The German made a small gain right at the end of the session but it was not enough to close the nearly two-tenth gap to Hamilton by any significant margin.
Championship leader Jenson Button
split the Red Bull pair in his Brawn Mercedes. The team are especially concerned about tyre temperature this weekend having suffered a drop in performance due to the issue last time out at Silverstone. Button briefly held the fastest time this afternoon before ending the day just over two-tenths of a second off the ultimate pace.
It was another varied session from the Toyota team as Jarno Trulli
ran well once again as he posted the fifth fastest time. Team-mate Timo Glock, unhappy after a change in race engineer this weekend, was 15th best in the second TF109.
This morning it was Giancarlo Fisichella
showing well for the Force India Mercedes team but this afternoon the Italian veteran was caught out by the shower and spun the VJM02 into the barriers at turn ten early in the session. Adrian Sutil picked up the programme and ended the afternoon an impressive sixth best in what was bound to be a simulated qualifying run. Rubens Barrichello
was unhappy with the balance and grip in the second Brawn but did make progress later in the session to set the seventh fastest time, half a second behind Hamilton and three tenths adrift of team-mate Button. Fernando Alonso
and nelson Piquet, both making news ahead of the Grand Prix weekend with regards to rumoured changes in employment, were closely matched for Renault with the eighth and tenth fastest times with Kazuki Nakajima splitting the duo in the leading Williams Toyota.
Over at BMW Sauber Nick Heidfeld
and Robert Kubica were running a new diffuser on the F1.09 as they posted the 11th and 14th fastest times respectively with Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg in between for Ferrari and Williams.
Ferrari showed well in the in the morning session, but the move onto the softer option tyres this afternoon did not bring the performance gains seen by their rivals. Massa was nine-tenths off the ultimate pace in 12th with Kimi Raikkonen
back in 16th as the team continue to evaluate the latest aero modifications from the Maranello factory.
Heikki Kovalainen was just 17th in the second McLaren Mercedes at 1.5 seconds off the pace of Hamilton. The Finn, who does not have the new aero package being run by his team-mate as yet, was however was on a fast lap right at the end of the session before locking his brakes into the turn 13 chicane and taking to the grass.
Toro Rosso Ferrari continues to struggle at the back of the pack with Sebastien Buemi this time a fraction ahead of his more experienced team-mate Sebastien Bourdais. Giancarlo Fisichella
however was actually slowest after crashing out on his second timed lap of the day.
It is early days in the German Grand Prix weekend. Lewis Hamilton and McLaren Mercedes may be showboating to a certain degree, but it is clear they have made a step forward with the MP4-24 package. Day two of the action however is more likely to see Red Bull Renault and Brawn Mercedes battling for supremacy.