Red Bull Racing looks set to take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen giving the Milton Keynes squad a lockout of the Friday practice timesheets.

Following teammate Daniel Ricciardo topping the timesheets in Friday’s opening practice session, the Dutch youngster repeated the dose in FP2. As was the case earlier today, Lewis Hamilton almost claimed top spot and fell just short of Verstappen’s fastest FP2 time by a scant two-hundredths of a second.

Verstappen’s fastest time of the session, a 1:13.085, was the fastest ever lap posted around the 4.5-kilometre Hockenheimring layout. There were concerns, however, for the Austrian Grand Prix winner who reported an unusual noise from his RB14 when he was downshifting. That prompted his engineers to call him into the pits so the issue could be investigated, costing him valuable track time.

Verstappen’s FP1 pace-setting teammate Daniel Ricciardo had a low key session. With the Australian set to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid after taking on a number of new engine components, the team opted to focus his session on high-fuel runs in preparation for the race. He had a spin exiting Turn 8 when he dropped a wheel onto the Astroturf run-off and finished the session 13th fastest.

In a repeat of FP1, there was little to separate Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Ferrari on the stopwatch with each outfit’s fastest driver covered by just 0.3 seconds. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas celebrated his contract extension with Mercedes by going third-fastest, just eight-hundredths of a second slower than the Englishman.

The two Ferraris were next up, with Sebastian Vettel edging teammate Kimi Räikkönen fourth and fifth-fastest respectively.

The Ferrari-powered Haas cars once again claimed the ‘best of the rest’ mantle among the midfielders, with Romain Grosjean shading teammate Kevin Magnussen in another positive session for the American squad.

Ferrari power also helped Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc into the top half of the timesheets; the Monégasque driver finished eighth-fastest ahead of Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg and the Force India pairing of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez.

After losing track time in FP1 while a coolant leak was being fixed, Carlos Sainz Jr. wound up twelfth-fastest in the second Renault ahead of the aforementioned Ricciardo, the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson and the Toro Rosso Hondas of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.

Mirroring their Silverstone form a fortnight ago, McLaren and Williams languished at the bottom of the timesheets. Fernando Alonso was a lacklustre 17th-fastest ahead of the two Williams’ of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, who both ran an upgraded front wing design.

Alonso’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was once again the slowest driver in the field, later describing his Friday practice outings as the most difficult of his Formula 1 career to-date.

Saturday’s German Grand Prix action kicks off with Free Practice 3 at 12:00 followed by Qualifying at 15:00 local time (GMT +2) – the latter session is forecast to be interrupted by thunderstorms.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:13.085 18
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.111 + 0.026 39
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:13.190 + 0.105 39
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:13.390 + 0.225 46
5. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:13.427 + 0.342 41
6. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:13.973 + 0.888 34
7. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:14.189 + 1.104 36
8. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:14.374 + 1.289 41
9. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:14.496 + 1.411 31
10. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:14.508 + 1.423 39
11. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:14.552 + 1.467 38
12. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:14.592 + 1.507 43
13. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:14.682 + 1.597 36
14. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:14.783 + 1.698 38
15. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:14.793 + 1.708 44
16. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:14.830 + 1.745 45
17. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:14.836 + 1.751 38
18. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:15.269 + 2.184 36
19. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:15.408 + 2.323 41
20. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:15.454 + 2.369 34

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.