Jul 29, 2016
After enduring the oppressive heat of last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, Formula One teams were greeted by comfortable temperatures and a partly cloudy sky on Friday at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg, Germany when opening practice began for the 62nd running of the German Grand Prix on Sunday.
As in Budapest and at the previous British Grand Prix in Silverstone, Charles Leclerc drove a Haas VF-16 in FP1 alongside regular Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean. Leclerc is a 2016 member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and currently competes in the GP3 Series for ART Grand Prix, where he is second in the championship standings. Haas F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez, a Ferrari Driver Academy alumnus, relinquished his seat to allow the 18-year-old Leclerc to continue obtaining valuable Formula One experience. Leclerc will reappear in FP1 sessions Sept. 30 at the Malaysian Grand Prix and Nov. 25 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In each session, Leclerc will drive in place of Gutiérrez.
Leclerc ran a total of 32 laps around the 4.574-kilometer (2.842-mile), 17-turn Hockenheimring, with his best time being a 1:18.882 to put him 17th-fastest in the session. The quick time came on his 13th lap using a set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires.
Grosjean made 20 laps in FP1 with a best time of 1:18.589 to place him 14th in the session. Grosjean set his fast lap during his 14th tour of the circuit utilizing a set of Yellow softs. The veteran driver pushed hard to the end of the 90-minute practice, slipping off the track in turn eight with less than a minute remaining. It was a minor excursion and Grosjean was able to continue with his car unharmed.
Leading the way in FP1 was the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg was the faster of the two with a 1:15.517, nipping his teammate by .326 of a second.
Two-and-a-half hours later, FP2 began. Gutiérrez returned to his racecar and took advantage of the track time by logging 42 laps. His best was a 1:18.005, secured on his 15th lap while shod on a set of P Zero Red supersofts. After clocking the 16th-fastest time, Gutiérrez switched to a used set of Yellow softs for a nine-lap run before bolting on a used set of Red supersofts for an 18-lap effort.
Grosjean made 13 laps in FP2 and set the 14th-fastest time with a lap of 1:17.602 on his 11th tour, earned on a set of Red supersofts. His FP2 time was cut short, however, when his car developed a water leak with 40 minutes remaining.
FP2 ended the same way FP1 did, with Rosberg and Hamilton 1-2. Rosberg’s quick time (1:15.614) was a tick slower than his FP1 performance, but still .394 of a second better than his teammate.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 107 laps – 42 by Gutiérrez, 33 by Grosjean and 32 by Leclerc.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“We tried a few things today, taking the time to assess the track as a new venue for us. We focused on understanding how the tires work here. Unfortunately, we had our issue in the afternoon so we couldn’t do a long run, which is a bit of a shame. There’s plenty of work to be done tonight, including a few things we’re still investigating. We managed to try a few setups. Hopefully for tomorrow, we’ll pick up the best option.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It was a productive afternoon. We managed to complete our full program and got the most out of the time we had on track. Considering that Romain couldn’t go out, it was good that we switched the plan to run the two compounds on longer runs which gathered important information for the race. We’re happy with the mileage and tests we carried out and now we need to analyze all the data in order for us to optimize everything we can for tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc, FP1 Driver, Haas F1 Team
“It’s always amazing to be back in the Haas Formula One car. It was a good session. We did many laps with two new sets of softs and then a race simulation for 15 laps. So, it was many laps and a lot of experience. I learned a lot, so all good.
“Every time I jump in the car I have more confidence. It’s only the third time I go in it. The car that feels less and less normal is the GP3 car because getting back to the GP3 car is a really big difference.
“Haas F1 Team is doing a great job. It’s only their first year in Formula One. It’s crazy what they’re doing for their first year in Formula One. I’m really impressed by them. They will just keep improving, I’m sure.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“A very solid and standard FP1. Charles did a very good job in his third FP1 for us and we would like to thank him for that. Romain completed everything we needed to do this morning and we got all the data required. In the afternoon, Esteban was back in the car and was quickly up to speed working with the data collaborated earlier from Charles. We were going to split the work on the tires but, unfortunately, we had a water pipe break on Romain’s car and we had to stop him from going back out. Esteban stepped in and ran the test for both types of tires. Overall, we managed to get all the data we needed for tomorrow for FP3 and qualifying. Hopefully, we’ll come back stronger in the morning.”
Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (11:00-12:00) before qualifying starts at 14:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 16 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.