Perhaps, only Dieter Zetsche is missing at the celebrations for the 125th year in Motorsport and for the 200th F1 race entered: the man who made this team great and powerful, able to compete (and to dominate) alongside Ferrari and Red Bull coming from the comet Brawn GP. And who knows, maybe he could have been invited to be under the podium for the possible champagne shower on Sunday’s race. Possible, not probable.
Statistics are not involved. Only the crude timesheets coming from the first two Practice sessions reveal of a suffering conditions under the scorching temperatures of the Baden-Wurttemberg summer: with 35° in the air, there was little to do against the parade of the Ferrari. In Austria the overheat constrained an engine management from the engineers as the cooling issue were always on the limits, preventing a good performance. Here at Hockenheim, the Pirelli compounds all suffer from overheating: blistering is highly expected to present on their surfaces during race if temperatures will keep these peaks.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton went through both sessions without seeming to push to the very limit his car, out of some kerb excursions at last bend: the Brit experienced a more aggressive choice of tyres than the one of his teammate; but, he consumed sets of Medium and Soft, resulting that the Hard set is still available for the Grand Prix. However, he confidence on his weekend wasn’t at top levels, proofing the two 3th places obtained:
It's not been the best of days in terms of the heat, but pretty straightforward otherwise. These tyres don't like the temperature so we had to do very slow outlaps and the tyres don't last very long. It's all about trying to keep the tyres in the working range. They were always overheating, so that's been the main issue today, but we're all in the same boat. We're hoping the weather won't be like this for the rest of the weekend. If it's cooler and it's dry, nothing from today really applies - the tyres will come back towards us and everyone will be quicker and more comfortable on the track
Valtteri Bottas' Formula 1 career seems more likely than ever to be threatened by the chance of a Mercedes' seat for Esteban Ocon. Toto Wolff didn't even try to deny it by expressing his difficulties on finding a final decision.
At the next garage, Valtteri Bottas showed the maximum commitment in throwing its W10 around Motodrome: like Vettel in 2018, he missed the braking line at the hairpin that caught unaware the German while leading last year’s Grand Prix. A nearly kiss to barriers put an alarm for the rest of his weekend: could he recover the scare for tomorrow’s Qualifying? Only a 5th and a 4th position was everything he could claim in these weather conditions:
It was extremely hot, I can't remember the last time I drove in these kind of conditions, but it's the same for everyone. It makes it more tricky for the drivers, the cars and the tyres. We saw lots of overheating, especially in sector 3. We've made some progress on our cooling; we would have struggled massively to run here with the package we had in Austria, but with the new package we could actually complete some good long runs. The weather is going to be completely different tomorrow and on Sunday with lower temperatures and a chance of rain. So we will need to be very dynamic reacting to the weather with the car set-up. We haven't really run in the wet this year, so I actually hope for rain - it would be nice to drive in the wet
As the Finnish said, the possible remedy is only the faith of rain and cooler air: with Budapest and Singapore coming as the next test for ‘hot’ races, Mercedes seems not prepared to afford these rounds as showed in Spielberg. Or is it just pre-tactics for a probable white-moustache return as White (and silver) Arrows approach the home track?