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Hamilton on top in German furnace in F1

HOCKENHEIM, Germany--Lewis Hamilton shrugged off on-track temperatures of over 50 degrees to clock the fastest lap in practice for this weekend's German Grand Prix, the Briton outpacing Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

On a scorching hot day at the Hockenheim circuit, with air temperatures touching 34 degrees Celsius and the track temperature reaching 58 degrees, the Mercedes men were again in a class of their own as they continued their battle for this year's world championship.

Hamilton, who cut Rosberg's championship lead to four points by winning the British Grand Prix two weeks ago when the German suffered his first retirement of the season, clocked a best lap of one minute 18.341 seconds.

That put him 0.024 seconds ahead of Rosberg.

“That was ok, pretty good,” said Hamilton. “The temperatures are so high that it was very difficult with the tires, but we learned a lot in that session. As usual qualifying is going to be very important like it is at every circuit we go to.”

Hamilton and Rosberg admitted they faced a challenge to retain their competitive advantage after running without their FRIC suspension system.

It was the first time they, or any team, had run without the 'front to rear interlinked suspension system', dubbed as FRIC, used to help with self-leveling of the car during a lap of the track.

“Finding the sweet spot with the car is just in a different place now. So we're really trying to get that right,” said Hamilton.

He added that the hot conditions had made it a challenging day also for the soft compound Pirelli tires used.

“It was difficult to find the balance with the track being so hot — and it's quite a tricky circuit in general,” he said.

“The car's a little bit different now because everyone's made some changes. The set-up is in a different direction to what we had in the past, but it's still good fun to drive.”

'Change the order'

Rosberg said he felt that the loss of FRIC would change the order that had dominated the opening half of the season.

“For sure it will shuffle things around a little bit without this FRIC system. There are some new challenges now — to re-balance the car and figure my way out to get happy in the car,” said Rosberg who arrived at Hockenheim buoyed by a new contract and his recent wedding.

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Mercedes-AMG's British driver Lewis Hamilton drives in the first practice session ahead of the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany on Friday, July 18.

(AFP)

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