Hockenheim’s hot weather forecast for this weekend’s German Grand Prix has left Formula 1’s top three teams wary, given the major impact and consequences the weather could have.
F1’s official timing data recorded track temperatures higher than 50 degrees Celsius at Hockenheim during Friday’s second practice session, which was narrowly topped by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“I think the high temperatures we had today could probably have an impact somehow,” Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel told media following the ninety-minute session, where he finished P4.
Verstappen agreed with Vettel, acknowledging that weather and temperature could have a “big impact” throughout the weekend.
After an unusually hot Friday in Hockenheim, Saturday is set to get stranger. According to AccuWeather, a thunderstorm will hit the region on Saturday, with mild and dry conditions returning on Sunday.
AccuWeather’s predictions seemed to be corroborated by Ferrari, given Vettel said, “Tomorrow it should rain, but on Sunday we expect it to be dry again.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said the hot conditions on Friday had made his W09-hybrid “demanding and physical” to drive.
Last month, hot conditions swung the Austrian Grand Prix in favour of Ferrari, who, despite second and third place finishes, were the only top team that didn’t have a car suffering from tyre blistering.
“On Sunday, if the weather stays warm like it was today, for sure it will be challenging for the tires,” commented Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who pointed out the similarity of Germany’s weather to that of Austria.
Raikkonen seemed cautious about what tomorrow may bring, given the prediction of rain, adding that he was expecting Friday’s conditions to be “a bit more tricky.”
The Finn finished behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel in both FP1 and FP2.
Like Austria, Germany’s hot conditions on Friday seemed to affect Mercedes more than most.
Valtteri Bottas said after FP2 the team “suffered a bit” from tyre overheating, but he remained adamant the problem would’ve affected almost everyone.
Lewis Hamilton said the team is “trying to be as perfect as [they] can” with their understanding of the tyres and their temperatures this weekend.
On the contrary, Mercedes did show convincing qualifying pace in FP2, as Hamilton and Bottas finished P2 and P3 respectively.
“Both Ferrari and Red Bull were very quick today and I think it will be very similar tomorrow and on Sunday,” said Lewis Hamilton.
Haas and Alfa Romeo Sauber filled the ‘best of the rest’ spots in FP2, which suggests Ferrari spent the majority of the day sandbagging.
“Every Friday [Ferrari] sandbag, so it doesn’t mean much,” Hamilton reportedly told Formula 1’s official website.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo also expects those around him to pick up the pace throughout the weekend but admitted he was pleased with his Friday, where Red Bull led both practice sessions.
“It was a nice surprise to start so competitively here but we have to remember it is only Friday,” he said.