Maldonado quickest in another wet session
20 July 2012 – Pastor Maldonado’s name was atop the timesheets when the second Hockenheim practice session ended early on Friday. Once again, rain controlled proceedings as Michael Schumacher crashed in the stadium. Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel made the top three, with McLaren running a string of updates as Lotus trialled Super DRS.
After no less than four intermittent rain showers had dictated the pace of first practice this morning, another heavy downpour arrived just minutes before the pit exit light went green in the afternoon. This severely limited running opportunities as Hockenheim was welcomed back to the Formula 1 calendar for the first time since 2010.
Bruno Senna was the first man to venture out on Wet tyres, with the weather later improving enough for Intermediates. Slicks were on the cards as the track began to dry at a steady rate, but any chance of running the standard Hard or Soft compounds was wiped out when more heavy rain arrived at three o’clock, half an hour before the chequered flag flew.
Thanks to the weather, the scenario remains very much open and the lap times somewhat meaningless, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton 19th and championship leader Fernando Alonso one position behind him; in a bid to lessen the risk of an accident, the majority chose to sit in the pits as opposed to wet weather running. However, there was a crash for Michael Schumacher as the Mercedes spun entering the stadium four minutes from the end of the session, duly damaging both the front and rear ends of the car up against the wall.
It was an important day for McLaren, running a raft of updated components for both Hamilton and Jenson Button, such as new sidepods and a new rear wing. Despite the conditions not aiding the development process, team chiefs declared themselves pleased with the latest parts. Lotus grabbed the attention of most, becoming the first team to run a Mercedes-like Super DRS device and four months after unsuccessfully protesting against the Germans. However, the full extent of its effects will not be witnessed until the sun is shining.
Pressure was evident on the Toro Rosso pit wall, with Team Principal Franz Tost shaking his head after Daniel Ricciardo floated into the gravel trap at Sachs curve – the same scene of Valtteri Bottas’ session-ending moment this morning. On the timesheets, Maldonado posted a best lap time of 1:27.476 – 11 seconds slower than Button’s leading dry time of earlier on today - to edge out Rosberg by just over a tenth of a second. Vettel, Sergio Pérez and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top five.
The third and final practice period begins at 11am local time (BST +1) on Saturday and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report