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F1: Lewis Hamilton scorches to fastest lap

Lewis Hamilton: Set sizzling pace. Picture: PA

Lewis Hamilton: Set sizzling pace. Picture: PA

  • by ALAN BALDWIN
 

LEWIS Hamilton denied Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg the satisfaction of lapping fastest at his home German Grand Prix yesterday.

With track temperatures soaring, Hamilton set a sizzling pace with a quickest lap of one minute 18.341 seconds in the afternoon session.

Formula 1 world championship leader Rosberg, who had been fastest before lunch with a best of 1:19.131, was second on the timesheets a mere 0.024 off Hamilton’s pace.

Dominant Mercedes, seeking their first German Grand Prix victory as a works team since Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio triumphed 60 years ago at the Nuerburgring, finished one-two in both sessions.

Yesterday was the first chance to assess the performance of cars since the governing body ruled against a front and rear interconnected suspension (FRIC) system. All teams had presented their cars for scrutineering without the systems on Thursday but the times showed no seismic change in the pecking order even if champions Red Bull appeared to have edged slightly closer.

Mercedes also made a rare pitlane bungle when they had the wrong tyres ready for Hamilton during a race simulation and Rosberg had to wait behind him with overheating brakes.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who has won the last two races at the southern circuit which alternates with the Nuerburgring, was third fastest in the morning – and 0.292 off the pace – and then ninth in the afternoon.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, the only driver other than the Mercedes pair to win a race this season, was fourth and third fastest respectively. The Australian’s quadruple champion team-mate and last year’s German GP winner Sebastian Vettel was sixth and eighth.

Further back, Susie Wolff impressed on her run for Williams. The Scot managed 22 laps in the morning session and ended up an impressive 15th fastest, only a fraction slower than the Force India of 14th placed Sergio Perez.

Perez had made headlines when he jokingly told a Spanish television reporter that he would not want to be beaten by a woman driver. The Mexican’s time yesterday of 1:20.598 compared to Wolff’s 1:20.769.

Caterham, under new ownership following the departure of Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, had a torrid day with Kamui Kobayashi’s car catching fire. The Japanese joined marshals in extinguishing the flames.

Meanwhile, Alonso has voiced his frustration at the latest rumours linking him with a move away from Ferrari.

Speculation has the Spaniard lined up for a return to McLaren seven years after an ignominious departure from the Woking-based marque.

Signing for McLaren after winning the second of his world titles with Renault, Alonso was partnered in 2007 by then rookie Hamilton. As the year wore on and with the duo involved in a world title scrap overshadowed by the ‘spygate’ scandal, Alonso demanded he be given number one status.

That went against the grain of McLaren’s mantra on equality, leading to a showdown between the 32-year-old and then team boss Ron Dennis. Alonso’s contract was terminated at the end of the season, with the Spaniard returning to Renault, and seemingly all bridges were burned with McLaren.

Alonso’s name, however, is in the frame with McLaren, although he is adamant he is not looking to move on, despite a year that will ultimately end without a trophy for a fifth successive campaign with Ferrari.

“Every year now I get asked this question in July, maybe since I started in 2003,” said a frustrated Alonso. “I haven’t talked with any other team and it’s not my priority.”

• Four people from Williams had to be treated for smoke inhalation yesterday after a fire broke out at one of the team hotels in Germany.

The fire, at the Hotel Mondial in Wiesloch situated eight miles from Hockenheim, started at 3am, resulting in an immediate evacuation of the building.

Fortunately no one was hurt, with only a quartet of team members taken to hospital due to the effects of the smoke, but they were soon discharged. Neither of the drivers, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, were involved as they were staying at another hotel.

 

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