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    REPORT: Tight Fight Ahead at Hockenheim Promising start but no room...

Promising start but no room for error at home race for Mercedes

What Happened?

-  A hot start to the weekend both on and off track, with air temperatures hitting 32°C and track temperatures 49°C and the top teams separated by fractions of a second

-  In the morning session, Lewis came home in P2 (Ricciardo P1) with Valtteri in P5

-  Lewis also finished the afternoon session in P2 (Verstappen P1) with Valtteri in P3, just a tenth separating the top three

-  Today's programme focused on tyre performance and wear rate as well as start performance

What Did We Learn?

It's shaping up to be a fierce battle once again, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all in the mix at the front and tyres once again the focus of attention for the engineers.

"We've had a pretty good day overall - but it's always difficult to know quite where we stand on a Friday," said Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin. "The car balance has been ok from the start and on a single lap we look to be fairly competitive. We have seen good times from both Ferrari and Red Bull so we expect it to be tight tomorrow in qualifying - but there are a few areas where we can find a bit of pace. In the afternoon our programme was split between the cars to allow us to collect data on all three compounds. The hot conditions are definitely making life difficult for the tyres. The UltraSoft is really on the limit. It's got good grip to start but needs to be driven ever so gently to keep it from blistering. The Soft and Medium are a bit easier to lean on which may mean that we see a range of strategies on Sunday which should lead to an interesting race. We expect the weather to cool a bit going into tomorrow which will make working conditions more pleasant and will help the tyres a little bit. There's also a risk of rain for qualifying which could shake things up if it comes."

What We're Saying

Lewis: "It's great here in Hockenheim - the weather is amazing, it's very hot, which makes it very demanding and physical in the car. It's quite a technical track even though it is a pretty short circuit. We've got through our programme today, finished all the sessions and got all the information we needed from the tyres. The car was feeling good, but it is very close, so there's lots of work to do tonight. We've been working on our starts, making sure to get a better understanding of the tyres and tyre temperatures and trying to be as perfect as we can in that area. Both Ferrari and Red Bull were very quick today and I think it will be very similar tomorrow and on Sunday. It's going to be a serious challenge and it's not an easy track to get right, so we will have to give it everything."

Valtteri: "We announced my new contract today and I got to drive a Formula One car around Hockenheim - so it's been a really good day and it's great to be back in Germany. I think we're now in a very good situation as a team, because the contract situation is clear and we can focus totally on the tough battle we're in. The car seemed competitive today but, as expected, it is very close. I was struggling a bit with the front end of the car; we need to find a bit more bite in the slow and medium speed corners, but otherwise it was okay. I'm not completely satisfied yet but that's exactly what Fridays are for. We will work on the car and surely make another step forward for tomorrow. We suffered a bit from overheating our tyres today and I'm sure the others did as well, but it looks like it will be a bit cooler on Sunday. We've got a lot of data to go through tonight to gain a better understanding of the tyres when we get to the race."

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