Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel says there will ‘definitely’ be a three-way team battle for pole position at the German Grand Prix having been impressed by the single lap pace from Red Bull at Hockenheim. With the majority of teams turning their engines down in order to preserve reliability, the gaps between Formula 1 teams have often looked closer on Friday before the true pace is produced in qualifying.
Despite considering this, Vettel is certain both Red Bull cars will be in the hunt for pole in Germany despite having been over half a second behind the Ferrari and Mercedes cars in qualifying trim at recent races. Daniel Ricciardo topped FP1 before teammate Max Verstappen repeated the feat in the afternoon session with Red Bull impressing in the tight and twisty final section.
“Especially for one lap [they are strong]” – Seb said when rating Red Bull’s strengths: “I haven’t seen much of the Red Bulls on the long run. But one lap it definitely is. It seems very close. I think it will be crucial to have a solid day tomorrow and a good result. It always helps and that is what we will try to do.” – the German driver added.
Assessing his own progress for Ferrari, Vettel feels it was a productive Friday practice experimenting with tyre options – with Pirelli providing an extra step between the middle (soft) and softest (Ultrasoft) compounds for this weekend – and despite seeing blisters on the softest tyres he’s confident with his race pace: “We tried to do a little bit of everything,” he said. “We succeeded quite well with the tyre choices we had today. We were doing something different across cars as well so I think it was fine. We need to see what we find and how we were compared to others. I think we are still missing a little bit in terms of one-lap performance, I think we can improve. I wasn’t entirely happy with the only lap I had on the ultra-soft, but I think the car was fine and I think we can still gain a bit. Our ultra-softs had some blisters at the rear as it is very hot. We will see, the track usually improves ahead of Sunday but we will see. I am happy we weren’t the only ones.” – Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel concluded.
The final free practice session takes place tomorrow at 12h00, with qualifying following on at 15h00.