Silverstone winner Nico Rosberg, and team-mate Lewis Hamilton, are both keen to deliver a win for Mercedes on home soil in this weekend’s German Grand Prix.
And the Mercedes duo showed they will be the cars to beat by topping the timesheets in today’s opening free practice at the Nurburgring.
Former world champ Hamilton, still to win a race for Mercedes, outpaced his team-mate by 0.219secs, lapping the track in a best of 1min 31.754secs.
Behind them, Mark Webber was third in his Red Bull, just ahead of the Sahara Force India of Adrian Sutil. His team-mate, Scot Paul di Resta, was 11th.
There was mixed fortune too for Ferrari. While Felipe Massa was sixth-quickest, team-mate Fernando Alonso failed to post a time after his car was hampered by electrical problems.
After his non-finish in the British GP, world championship leader Sebastian Vettel has seen his lead over Alonso shrink to 21 points. And the German, still to win his home race, could only manage eight-fastest in the opening test.
“I think what is much more important than not having won in Germany is what we have achieved in the last three years,” the 26-year-old said.
“We had good races at the Nurburgring in the past and also in Hockenheim.
“It was always close but not good enough to win yet. We have a little bit of time left to try again, and we’re trying again.
“In terms of championship points it is the same as every other place, but it is something special to race in front of your home crowd.
“I feel happy to have that possibility. There are other nationalities that don’t have a chance to race in front of home crowds. I think it is a privilege rather than extra pressure.
“It is nice to see the support we get and the fascination we have for F1. Motorsport has a big standing in Germany.”
The weekend though threatens to be dominated by further concerns over the Pirelli tyres, just days after the punctures at Silverstone.
Drivers have warned they will boycott the race if there is any repeat of the Silverstone tyre problems over the weekend.
“The drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wish to express their deepest concerns about the events that took place at Silverstone,” the statement said.Following a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) in the Nurburgring paddock, the body issued a strongly worded statement making clear its unhappiness at the current situation in F1.
“We trust the changes made to the tyres will have the desired results and that similar problems will not occur during the German GP weekend.
“We are ready to drive our cars to the limit, as we always do, and as it is expected by our teams, sponsors and fans.
“However, the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans.”
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Photos copyright of Ferrari F1 and Red Bull F1