Daniel Ricciardo celebrated Formula 1’s return to Germany by beating Mercedes on home soil in Friday’s opening practice session – albeit to the tune of just four-thousandths of a second on the stopwatch – however the Australian’s potential joy will be tempered by the knowledge he will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.

The Red Bull Racing driver edged defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton by the barest of margins at the end of the 90-minute session, with his teammate Max Verstappen an encouraging third-fastest and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in close pursuit.

The opening practice session indicated there was little to separate the ‘big three’ teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – with just seven-tenths of a second covering the fastest six drivers as Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen finished fifth and sixth on the timesheets respectively.

The Haas F1 Team continued its recent run of form as the ‘best of the rest’ teams among the midfield, with Romain Grosjean leading teammate Kevin Magnussen. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Renault’s Nick Hülkenberg rounded out the top ten on the timesheets.

Hülkenbergwas one of several drivers finding himself caught out at Turn 1, the high-speed Sachskurve right-hander that marks the entry to the iconic (and today, rather barren) stadium section of the circuit. The German ran wide exiting the corner and took a rapid trip through the gravel trap before rejoining the circuit, while several more of his contemporaries suffered monir bodywork damage running over the kerbs exiting the turn.

Two teams – Force India and Sauber – ran reserve drivers during the session. The former gave Formula 2 racer Nicholas Latifi his second FP1 hit-out of the season, with the Canadian finishing 17th-fastest driving Esteban Ocon’s VJM11.

Sauber gave its former substitute driver Antonio Giovinazzi a hit-out in Marcus Ericsson’s car. The Italian had something of a scare when his engine cover parted company with his car half an hour into the session, forcing the GP2 Series runner-up to limp slowly back to the pits for new bodywork.

He finished the session 19th-quickest ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne who, along with teammate Fernando Alonso, completed little running.

Friday’s second practice session gets underway at 15:00 local time (GMT +2).

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:13.525 22
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.529 + 0.004 29
3. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:13.714 + 0.189 34
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:13.796 + 0.271 23
5. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.903 + 0.378 30
6. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:14.267 + 0.742 24
7. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:14.691 + 1.166 29
8. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:14.853 + 1.328 28
9. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:15.097 + 1.572 25
10. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:15.282 + 1.757 32
11. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:15.415 + 1.890 29
12. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:15.544 + 2.019 13
13. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:15.629 + 2.104 32
14. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:15.769 + 2.244 10
15. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:15.864 + 2.339 36
16. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:15.876 + 2.351 34
17. Nicholas Latifi Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:16.023 + 2.498 27
18. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:16.071 + 2.546 32
19. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:16.136 + 2.611 23
20. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:16.149 + 2.624 14

Image via Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.