Returning to Germany for the first time in two years, several teams debuted new parts including Renault and Williams, both with new front wings, and Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel‘s SF71H featuring a revised engine cover and rear wing, the former resulting in a new layout of his exhaust.
Red Bull led the early running as Max Verstappen had a free track before he was joined by rivals. He lost P1 to Daniel Ricciardo; however, both Red Bulls soon found themselves behind the Mercedes pairing.
First Lewis Hamilton went P1 and then Valtteri Bottas after the 40-minute tyre-handover break. He did a 1:13.9 on a new set of ultrasoft tyres.
Red Bull and Mercedes exchanged in a brief spate of you take P1, no I take P1, which looked to be settled by Hamilton’s 1:13.529.
However, the battle wasn’t over as Ricciardo, after one very slow lap, put his foot flat and did a 1:13.525 to beat the Brit by 0.004s.
Unfortunately for Ricciardo, the Aussie will start the race from the back of the grid as he has taken new engine parts and has a minimal penalty of 20 places.
Verstappen was a 0.189s off the pace in third place.
Vettel was fourth for Ferrari. Although the German has won the German GP, he has yet to do so at the Hockenheimring.
Bottas with his new contract in hand fell to fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Charles Leclerc and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.
There was a bit of drama over at Sauber as test driver Antonio Giovinazzi left the pits with a loose engine cover that flew off as he accelerated out of the pits. He returned to the garage in a rather exposed Sauber.
That was the only ontrack drama in a session in which Stoffel Vandoorne only ventured out in the final 20 minutes due to massive set-up changes with his MCL33.
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.525
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.004s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.189s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.271s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.378s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.742s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.166s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.328s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1.572s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.757s
11 Sergio Perez Force India 1.89s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2.033s
13 Lance Stroll Williams 2.104s
14 Carlos Sainz Renault 2.244s
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 2.339s
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 2.351s
17 Nicholas Latifi Force India 2.498s
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.546s
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Haas 2.611s
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 2.624s