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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2008 GERMAN GRAND PRIX - FRIDAY PRACTICE
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Friday Practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:30 Good morning and welcome to autosport.com Live, for the 10th round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship - the Santander German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Today on autosport.com Live we will be bring you text commentary and updates from the Friday practice sessions. The schedule looks like this:

07:30 - 08:00 Setting the scene to ease you into the Formula One weekend.
08:00 - 09:30 Live commentary and updates from the morning practice session.
09:30 - 12:00 Continuing track and weather updates and any breaking news from the circuit.
12:00 - 13:30 Live commentary and updates from the second practice session of the day.
13:30 - 14:00 End of day reaction and round-up, where we go from here, and what to look out for on Saturday.
14:00 Autosport.com Live commentary ends for today.

07:32 You can join in the fun by chatting live with other autosport.com forum members.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

07:35 Throughout this week the forecasts have suggested a plentiful supply of rain sweeping across Germany for the next few days.

Overnight, and since dawn, a few showers have passed over the circuit, wetting the track surface. The rainfall radar suggests that further showers are possible during the morning, with the chance of rain decreasing as the day wears on.

The maximum temperature today will reach 22 degrees Celsius, with the track temperature varying widely, leading to a difficult day for the teams and drivers.

Hockenheim
07:40 Nine rounds down, nine to go as the Formula One fraternity decends on the Hockenheimring this weekend, with the tightest drivers' championship in recent memory simmering nicely, after some incredible race weekends in the first half of the campaign.

World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton all arrive at this weekend's event sharing the lead in the table with 48 points. Canadian Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica is fourth in the standings, just two points behind the leading trio on 46, with his BMW Sauber teammate Nick Heidfeld fifth on 36 points.

In the Constructors' Championship it is Ferrari who sit proudly atop the standings with 96 points. BMW Sauber lie second just 10 points behind the Scuderia, with McLaren Mercedes third on 72. Both championships have been tight throughout the first nine events of the 2008 season, with no immediate sign of either McLaren or Ferrari stealing a march on the competition, nor does the BMW Sauber threat show signs of wilting.

Lewis Hamilton's dominant drive at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago put him squarely back in the title fight, just as it began to look like Ferrari would assert themselves. A wet race led to Ferrari scoring an own goal on their tyre strategy, by not changing their intermediate tyres at the first pitstop, whilst the Briton - who is gaining a reputation as something of a wet weather expert - managed to keep his McLaren on the road in the trickiest of conditions on the very same intermediates. Felipe Massa displayed how tough conditions were, by sliding off the Silverstone tarmac no less than five times during the 60 lap event.

Hockenheim looms and so does the promise of another difficult weekend weatherwise. Add to that the prospect of BMW Sauber pulling out all the stops in their home event, and you have the makings of another exciting weekend. Further down the field the midfield battle will also be close, as Toyota, Red Bull and Renault go hammer and tongs, each with the aim of scoring points. Williams and Honda will hope to get back among the midfield battle this weekend - as will Toro Rosso who have steadily improved their car since it debuted in May. Their star driver Sebastian Vettel races at home in the top category for the first time in his career this weekend, and would love to celebrate being confirmed as a Red Bull pilot in 2009 by scoring a point or two.

This will be the sixth event to be staged on the revamped 2.842 mile Hockenheim circuit. The old track, with its 200 mph flat out blasts through the forests, is now a distant memory of the past.

Renowned F1 track designer Herman Tilke is the man responsible for the new layout, which has produced some exciting races since its first race in 2002. However, David Coulthard was one driver who was less than complimentary about the circuit when he spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon.

"I think the stadium is a very interesting part of the circuit. You always have that appreciation of the crowd watching you because its like an amphitheater in a way. The rest of the track is normal Tilke ... corners - some are not very interesting, some are quite challenging. Other than that this place hasn't changed in all the time I have been coming here. It probably needs a bit of an upgrade in the pits!"

The ingredients are here for another interesting and potentially exciting Formula One weekend, with plenty of talking points.

07:45 Formula One returns to Hockenheim this weekend for the first time since 2006, completing the first cycle of a rotation agreement with the Nurburgring for the German round.

All 10 teams and the majority of the race drivers took part in a three-day test at the circuit last week, with the main objective being to evaluate Bridgestone's selection of the Hard and Medium tyre specification.

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the test on the second day in 1:14.872, with Felipe Massa clocking a 1:14.989 on the final day to go second in the combined timesheet.

Jenson Button was third quickest for Honda with a 1:15.081, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Button later told Autosport: "We are not a tenth off Ferrari."

The combination of recent testing and a damp start to proceedings, after early morning showers, leads to the prospect of limited running in the early stages of today's practice.

07:50 There are ten minutes to go before the start of the first practice session of the weekend.

07:54 The track remains damp after the earlier rain and, despite threatening skies, no rain is falling at present.

07:57 The track temperature is a chilly 16c, with a 17c ambient.

0 min: The practice session is underway.

0 min: Our usual session opener Adrian Sutil is again the first driver to join the racetrack.

1 min: More drivers coming out onto the track now to check over their cars, as well as the current track conditions.

2 min: Heikki Kovalainen takes the first available opportunity to practice a start at the end of the pitlane, as his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton also joins the racetrack.

2 min: The extreme wet tyre is being used for these installation laps by some drivers, although the level of water on the surface is not that severe.

3 min: Widespread installation laps are in progress now as the drivers perform systems checks on the cars to make sure that everything is working properly.

Timo Glock joins the racetrack with intermediate tyres on his Toyota TF108.

4 min: Timo Glock is told on the Toyota radio that he is being sent out on intermediate rubber in order to scrub the tyres in preparation for a potentially wet qualifying session.

4 min: Glock grapples with a severe lack of traction as he attempts to put the power down coming out of the hairpin at turn six.

7 min: Jenson Button is the only driver on track currently as we see Heikki Kovalainen lock up his front left tyre and run wide at turn nine.

Button returns to the pits, leaving Jarno Jarno Trulli out on the circuit alone, the Toyota driver having come out to check over his car.

7 min: Jarno Trulli returns to the pitlane, and there are no cars currently on the circuit.

9 min: Sebastian Vettel tells his engineer on the radio that the car is basically working fine and although the track is wet, conditions are not particularly bad.

9 min: Rubens Barrichello joins the racetrack in his Honda. Spray is being kicked up by the rear tyres as the Brazilian continues to circulate slowly, and returns to the pits.

10 min: Robert Kubica is sitting at the BMW Sauber pit stand, discussing the current conditions and the state of the circuit with his race engineer.

11 min: No cars on circuit as the teams and drivers wait for conditions to improve. As yet only the Ferraris have yet to venture out onto the circuit.

11 min: Another shower is passing over the circuit and it is raining lightly.

13 min: This will keep the track in a damp condition for the bulk of this first practice session.

No times have been set as yet, as Timo Glock comes out onto the track on intermediate tyres.

The German returns to the pits and the track falls silent again.

14 min: Lewis Hamilton comes out for the second time today. The Briton leaves the McLaren garage on intermediate tyres and he practices a start at the end of the pitlane.

15 min: Jarno Trulli is also out there as well as Nelson Piquet in the Renault.

We wait to see whether any of these three drivers will cross the line to start a timed lap.

15 min: Lewis Hamilton crosses start-finish and begins what could be the first flying lap of the weekend.

17 min: Hamilton continues round, taking things very gently by his usual standards. Lewis decides not to complete the lap and comes back into the pits.

18 min: Sebastian Vettel and Nelson Piquet are both out there on timed laps.

No times set as yet.

Lewis Hamilton came into the pitlane, and rejoined the track very quickly.

18 min: Nelson Piquet sets the first laptime of the race meeting - a 1:35.054, which is quickly bettered by Sebastian Vettel who sets a 1:33.350.

19 min: Light rain continues to fall at the circuit, although the track surface is not particularly wet for most of the lap.

Timo Glock reports on the team radio that conditions are slippery.

20 min: Fernando Alonso completes his first lap - 1:34.256, which puts him third of the three drivers who have set times so far.

20 min: Vettel comes through on his next lap and lowers the bar to 1:31.934.

21 min: Lewis Hamilton teases his McLaren around a slippery lap of Hockenheim, setting his first flying lap in 1:32.192, going second quickest overall.

22 min: Fernando Alonso moves into first position with a time of 1:31.421. The Spaniard demonstrated wet weather thinking by taking the wide line round the outside of the Sachs Kurve, where there is more grip available.

22 min: Sebastian Vettel returns to the pits after that first run of two timed laps.

23 min: Hamilton follows up his first lap with a spin exiting turn four. He got on the power to start the long run towards the hairpin and the back end simply departed towards the grass on the inside. Lewis got underway without too much trouble and continues to lap.

23 min: Meanwhile Alonso lowers the target time further to a 1:30.267.

24 min: Nelson Piquet continues out there on his first run of the day. The Brazilian is running the extreme wet tyre, and is told over the team radio to let his race engineer know if he feels the performance level of that tyre dropping off at any stage.

25 min: Hamilton jumps to the top of the order with a 1:29.774, despite having to get past the Toyota of Jarno Trulli.

26 min: Heikki Kovalainen isn't able to slow his McLaren down for turn nine and the Finn goes straight on, onto the extra tarmac area at the outside of the corner. No problem for the driver and he continues round to complete the lap.

28 min: Fernando Alonso is back at the top of the standings, clocking a 1:28.572 with intermediate tyres on his Renault.

29 min: The pair of Ferraris, Raikkonen and Massa, now emerge from the pits to start their day's work.

29 min: With just under 30 minutes of the first practice session gone, Fernando Alonso leads the pack on this damp, drizzly morning with a time of 1:28.572. Lewis Hamilton is in second position, with Adrian Sutil moving into third place with a 1:29.877, Kovalainen fourth, Kazuki Nakajima fifth in the Williams-Toyota, and Giancarlo Fisichella sixth in the second Force India machine.

31 min: Kazuki Nakajima moves into second place with a time of 1:29.310, 0.738 seconds behind current pacesetter Fernando Alonso.

31 min: The recent shower of rain has eased off in the last few minutes, allowing the track to begin a drying process once again.

32 min: The rain appears to have stopped all around the circuit, as Nakajima comes over the line and improves his time, moving closer to Alonso with a 1:28.945.

33 min: Sebastian Vetel demotes Nakajima into third, as he breaks the beam with 1:28.861, but here come the Ferraris ...

34 min: Kimi Raikkonen tops the order for Ferrari with a 1:27.581 from teammate Felipe Massa's 1:27.842 as track conditions continue to improve.

35 min: The track surface is rapidly developing a drying line around much of the lap, although some tricky areas of standing water still remain, particularly at turn four where Hamilton spun earlier.

36 min: Robert Kubica moves into fifth place with a time of 1:28.919, slotting himself between Sebastian Vettel and Kazuki Nakajima.

Nico Rosberg moves into seventh with a 1:29.134, as a drying line appears on some sections of the circuit.

37 min: The order is Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, with Mark Webber moving into fourth with a laptime of 1:28.616, and Jenson Button now fifth with 1:28.827.

38 min: The racing line is drying very quickly now with a reasonable amount of running taking place in the tricky conditions.

38 min: Raikkonen stretches his benchmark, setting the quickest second and third sectors for a 1:26.473.

Felipe Massa responds immediately, slashing over half a second off the best time to go quickest on a 1:25.888.

40 min: The top order continues to change very quickly as drivers improve lap by lap in the drying track conditions.

Rubens Barrichello has gone third, behind the two Ferraris with a time of 1:27.733, with Timo Glock now fourth and Sebastian Bourdais fifth, ahead of Alonso and Webber.

41 min: Intermediate tyres are in use by all the drivers with the track not quite ready for dry tyres at this stage.

The teams may hold off for longer than usual with a dry tyre choice, because beyond turn one another black cloud is approaching.

43 min: Felipe Massa continues to circulate on the rapidly drying surface and inevitably goes quicker once again with a 1:24.828, over a second better than his previous time.

45 min: Sebastian Bourdais goes fourth on intermediates, but behind him on the track his teammate Sebastian Vettel is the first driver to try dry tyres.

46 min: Vettel crosses the line to complete his first lap on dries with a time of 1:26.040, giving everyone in the pitlane a good idea of where the crossover time lies in any switch from intermediate to dry rubber.

47 min: Vettel's next lap on dries sets a new benchmark - 1:24.087.

47 min: Nico Rosberg moves into third place with a 1:26.457, as he continues to run with the intermediate tyre.

48 min: Dry tyres are definitely the way to go now as Vettel completes his third timed lap on this run and improves further to a 1:22.381 - over two seconds ahead of Felipe Massa in second place.

50 min: Vettel again lights up all three bells on the timing monitor, lowering the benchmark further to 1:21.404, which is 3.424 seconds ahead of second-placed Massa.

51 min: Vettel's fifth timed lap was faster still through the first two sectors of the lap, but the German comes into the pitlane to end the run.

51 min: Giancarlo Fisichella continues to circulate with intermediate rubber on his Force India and is up to third in the standings. He pits to consider a switch to dry tyres.

51 min: No cars on track currently with 38 minutes remaining in the first practice session at Hockenheim.

52 min: Sebastian Vettel is fastest so far with 1:21.404, with Massa second, Fisichella third, Adrian Sutil fourth in the second Force India car, and Nico Rosberg in fifth place.

53 min: Sebastien Bourdais joins the racetrack on dry tyres, having seen his teammate just complete four timed laps on these tyres which took him to the top of the standings.

53 min: Bourdais is the only car on track at the moment as he comes through to start a timed lap.

55 min: Bourdais' first sector time is some way off his teammate Vettel. The Frenchman continues round to move into second position with a time of 1:24.817, making it a Toro Rosso one-two with just over 34 minutes to go.

55 min: Jarno Trulli joins the circuit with dry rubber on his Toyota.

56 min: Replays show that Bourdais had a rear-end twitch entering turn one on that lap which put him second.

56 min: Nick Heidfeld also emerges from the pits having taken little part in the session so far.

58 min: Sebastien Bourdais continues round on his dry tyres and moves to just a tenth of a second behind his teammate Vettel.

59 min: Trulli's first timed lap on the harder dry tyre is a 1:25.299 for fourth as he feels out the grip levels. He improves to a 1:23.100 on the following tour.

60 min: Sebastien Bourdais has pulled off the racetrack at the hairpin, turn six. There were no visible signs of trouble as the Frenchman slowly pulls off to the side of the road.

The Toro Rosso STR3 has been wheeled behind the wall by the marshals and Sebastien climbs out of the car. He reports on the radio that: 'It just let go.'

61 min: Nick Heidfeld's early laps put him up to fourth as he quickly eclipses the times set when the track was wet.

61 min: Adrian Sutil puts his Force India top of the pile with a time of 1:21.325, Vettel now second.

62 min: Heidfeld immediately betters the benchmark with a 1:20.700 in the BMW, but Sutil is on another quick one ...

62 min: Sutil comes through on his next lap and retakes P1 away from Heidfeld with a 1:20.021.

63 min: Timo Glock moves into second position with 1:20.389 as the times continue to tumble at the Hockenheimring.

63 min: Adrian Sutil lowers the benchmark time further still with a laptime of 1:19.302.

65 min: Adrian Sutil continues to hammer round in the Force India, lowering the fastest time again to a 1:19.084, before Nico Rosberg steals his fellow-Germans' thunder by demoting the Force India to second, after setting a 1:18.921.

66 min: Sutil responds with a faster laptime, but he cannot displace the Wiliams driver on this occasion. Sutil posts a 1:19.072 to stay in second place.

66 min: The main championship protagonists have remained in the pits since running on intermediates in the drying phases of the session. They are allowing the current runners to clean and apply rubber to the track surface, although should be out for a run soon as further rain is still a possibility.

67 min: Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen head out for some dry running in the Ferraris.

68 min: Timo Glock now takes his turn at the top of the list, setting a time of 1:18.404.

Sutil manages to better Rosberg's time as his next crak - 1:18.561, with Rosberg now third, Heidfeld fourth, Fisichella fifth and Kazuki Nakajima in sixth place.

69 min: Mark Webber moves the Red Bull Racing entry into fifth place as the times tumble rapidly.

70 min: Rosberg retakes the top spot with 1:18.018, with Nelson Piquet going second to the German with a 1:18.325.

71 min: Mark Webber goes fastest with a 1:17.919. The Australian druiver was told over the radio by his race engineer to set some quick times on the dry rubber as there is a chance of some light rain in the next ten minutes.

72 min: Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and now Felipe Massa take the quickest time in succession as dry times continue to tumble.

73 min: Raikkonen, Massa, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Nakajima is the order with just over 15 minutes left in the morning session.

74 min: Kimi Raikkonen gets his hard Bridgestones up to temperature and jumps ahead of his teammate with a new best of 1:17.053.

Lewis Hamilton is now out in the McLaren and is up to fourth quickest with his early effort.

75 min: Hamilton is also much quicker having had a lap or two to feel out the grip and he slashes the best time to a 1:16.213 with Felipe Massa slotting in close behind on a 1:16.281.

77 min: Hamilton is quicker once again on a 1:16.107, despite a leery moment over the kerbs in the final corner.

Felipe Massa follows close behind on the road and now takes the Ferrari to the top in 1:15.796.

77 min: Predictably, the championship contenders have come to the fore as the track gets quicker and quicker. The Ferrari drivers and Lewis Hamilton are providing a spectacular show for the spectators in the stands as the three of them trade fast laps.

77 min: Robert Kubica has spun the BMW entering the stadium section ...

79 min: Kubica is unhurt after contact with the tyre barrier and is watching the recovery of his BMW.

79 min: Kubica lost control of his BMW Sauber entering the Mobil 1 Kurve, turn 12, which is the fast right hander as you enter the stadium section. Kubica lost the rear of the car on turn-in entry, and skated sideways across the gravel trap before coming to rest gently at slow speed in the tyre barriers.

There appears to be minimal damage to the car, Kubica is fine.

82 min: David Coulthard has completed a minimal amount of laps so far this morning. However the Scot is out on track at the moment, and moves into 17th position, from a lap that would have been much quicker had he not had to slow down the the yellow flags entering the stadium.

Coulthard then brakes too late and goes wide onto the extra tarmac area at turn three on the following lap. Coulthard continues on this run of laps as we move towards the conclusion of the session.

83 min: Rubens Barrichello has moved up to fifth place in the Honda, with a time of 1:17.500

Masa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Webber, Barrichello is the order.

84 min: 15 drivers are out on track currently as they take advantage of the dry conditions.

85 min: Fernando Alonso completes his latest lap on the harder Bridgestone tyre and puts the Renault fourth with a time of 1:17.061.

85 min: Heikki Kovalainen brings his McLaren up to sixth, setting a 1:17.536, which is quickly demoted to ninth as a flurry of times slot in to the order.

86 min: Kovalainen continues for another lap and his 1:16.650 puts him third.

87 min: Sebastian Vettel is out on track for a run in the closing minutes. Using the harder tyre he has twice put himself in the fifth position.

89 min: David Coulthard has moved up to 12th but is on a quicker lap this time round. He improves to 10th place with a time of 1:17.108.

89 min: Lewis Hamilton looked to be on for a quicker time but a number of small moments combined to give a lap of 1:16.005, fractions slower than his previous best.

90 min: The session has ended.

09:31 Fernando Alonso crosses the line as the flag comes out but he stays with, but much closer to the flying Ferraris and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso's time of 1:16.163 is just under 0.5 seconds off the pace.

09:31 Heikki Kovalainen vaults to the top of the list with a late lap of 1:15.666, which is quickly beaten by teammate Hamilton in 1:15.537.

09:32 The drivers are being allowed to return to the grid for practice starts.

09:34 So Lewis Hamilton is the fastest driver on a drying Friday morning practice session at Hockenheim. His time of 1:15.537 is just over a tenth of a second faster than his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen who ended up second, with Felipe Massa third, Fernando Alonso fourth, Kimi Raikkonen fifth, Nico Rosberg sixth and Sebastian Vettel who provided much of the entertainment this morning finishing seventh.

09:36 The drivers are coming into the pits en masse after being allowed to complete an extra lap of the circuit after the chequered flag was shown, so that they could practice some starts on the grid.

Traditionally Monaco is the only place where this is allowed, but this weekend the teams and the FIA decided that practice starts would be allowed to take place here.

09:40 Matt Beer has the round-up on the opening session in Germany:

Hamilton tops first practice - Germany

09:48 Weatherwise conditions continue to improve at the circuit, with only the odd patch of dampness in the surface well away from the racing line.

The rainfall radar suggests that there is little risk of any further showers before the Formula One track action is completed later this afternoon.

09:56 On track, the GP2 cars are just starting their 30-minute practice session. The Formula BMW Europe cars will also have a session during this break in Formula One action.

10:40 What have we learned from the first practice session this morning?

Unfortunately not a great deal can be determined after such a session with track conditions improving all the time, and therefore not consistent enough to get a feel of equal footing over a lengthy period of time.

Looking at the timesheet, and without knowing relative fuel loads, the McLarens do look to be marginally ahead of the Ferraris so far. Fernando Alonso was in the mix at the front, but it is difficult to place the Spaniard and his Renault based on this session alone.

Further down the list, the Rosberg-Vettel-Nakajima combination, with the three of them in close proximity could reflect something akin to a comparable run in the final moments of the session.

Other than that, there is sadly not a lot to be gleened from practice one, with the exception of Robert Kubica and Sebastien Bourdais, who both found trouble during the session. Bourdais in the form of a mechanical problem, and Kubica from going off the road and lightly into the tyre barriers at the Mobil 1 Kurve.

Giancarlo Fisichella is 0.3s ahead of his teammate Adrian Sutil, which looks consistent based on the other race weekends this season.

With the weather continuing to improve, we may get a much clearer idea of relative performance this afternoon.

10:54 The GP2 practice session at Hockenheim concluded a short time ago and Charles Bradley has the details:

Grosjean sets practice pace

11:20 With the prospects looking good for a dry second session, track conditions will improve rapidly throughout the upcoming 90 minutes.

In the first session, the dry running in the final half-hour has only just begun the process of laying rubber on the track surface. Times tumbled as the grip improved towards the end, and much faster laps can be expected as further rubber goes down in the second period.

With cool track temperatures and the harder end of the tyre selection, some complaints of graining can be expected. This track is particularly hard on rear tyres as it features a number of heavy acceleration zones, now without the aid of traction control. However, with the distinct lack of sunshine today, a common problem at Hockenheim of blistering tyres, in the often intense summer heat, should be avoided.

11:42 Clouds continue to move endlessly over the circuit keeping the skies overcast, but with the rainfall radar clearing all the time, we are set for a dry second practice session.

11:50 Ten minutes remain before the second practice session begins at Hockenheim.

11:56 The track temperature has edged up to 23c, with a 21c ambient and overcast skies.

0 min: The practice session is underway.

1 min: Team radio at Williams-Toyota.

Nico Rosberg's race engineer tells him that the track conditions have improved and that the track temperature is around five degrees warmer than it was during the morning session.

1 min: Robert Kubica's BMW has been repaired in the break, after suffering some suspension damage in a clash with the tyre barrier entering the stadium at the Mobil 1 Kurve.

2 min: Usually at the beginning of the afternoon session many of the drivers come straight out onto the track. Today is no exception and we have 11 drivers on the circuit already.

Sebastien Bourdais is among them in a repaired Toro Rosso machine that broke down this morning.

Bourdais is one of the first to start a timed lap.

3 min: Bourdais clocks a 1:25.202 which is quickly bettered by his teammate Sebastian Vettel with a 1:18.431.

4 min: Lewis Hamilton heads out in his McLaren for the first time this afternoon. He took the fastest time in the morning session of 1:15.537, in a late lap where the Brit was quickest in all three sectors.

4 min: Jarno Trulli and then Nick Heidfeld take turns on top, before Robert Kubica in the repaired BMW Sauber goes fastest with a 1:17.547.

5 min: Fernando Alonso runs wide at the exit of the final corner onto the short start-finish straight, on his way to the fifth fastest time, as Sebastian Vettel retakes the top spot from Kubica.

7 min: Nico Rosberg is out there using the soft tyre compound, and is about to complete his second flying lap of the afternoon. His first attempt was slow but a second flyer of 1:17.354 puts the German third so far.

7 min: Hamilton's first effort is a 1:21.730, only 12th quickest, but he's already on a better lap.

9 min: Lewis Hamilton finally makes it to the top of the order with a 1:15.817, having escaped a near collision on the previous lap ...

10 min: A near-miss for Lewis Hamilton blunted his attack on the benchmark time on that first flying lap. Coming into the stadium section he was full chat entering the Mobil 1 Kurve, when he came upon Sebastien Bourdais touring round on the racing line at around 90 km/h. Hamilton was close to spearing into the back of the slow Toro Rosso and had to take quick avoiding action.

He did so and has continued on this run of laps, since going fastest of all.

11 min: Felipe Massa has joined the fray in his Ferrari and is up to second quickest on a 1:16.781.

13 min: Nick Heidfeld is third quickest for BMW after the early running, followed by Kovalainen's McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen is only just heading out on to the circuit.

13 min: Rubens Barrichello has had a harmless spin coming out of the hairpin at turn six. The Brazilian was exiting the tight right-hander and put his foot on the gas, only for the rear end to break traction and spin on him.

Barrichello has stayed out there and runs in 17th place near the bottom of the timesheet.

14 min: Sebastien Bourdais has returned the Toro Rosso to the pits after the lap where he cruised back and almost got collected by Hamilton.

There is clearly a problem with the car and the team have immediately put it on jack stands and are removing the bodywork to investigate the issue.

14 min: Lewis Hamilton heads the pack after 15 minutes of the afternoon session with a time of 1:15.817. Felipe Masa is iin second place - 0.718 behind the McLaren driver. Nick Heidfeld is third, with Kovalainen fourth, Vettel fifth, Alonso sixth and Robert Kubica in seventh place.

17 min: Kimi Raikkonen's first effort slots him in third on a 1:16.572 and, having come out later than the rest, he has a quiet track on which to run what is likely to be a long run, with his lap times improving as the tyres warm up.

17 min: At the Ferrari pit gantry, a certain seven-time Formula One World Champion has come to monitor the teams' progress. Michael Schumacher arrived at the track in between the two sessions. He has since got changed into team uniform and is sitting with his headset on, carefull studying the bank of monitors.

19 min: Kimi Raikkonen has been entertaining the crowd at the Mercedes grandstand with a lurid slide as he powered out of turn 11.

19 min: In his first run of laps this afternoon, Adrian Sutil has put in an impressive time to put himself in tenth place, with a 1:17.193, 0.9s quicker than his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

That time was likely done with a bit less than race-stint fuel levels on board the Force India.

21 min: Kimi Raikkonen pops in another lap of 1:16.581, fractions shy of his best time so far this afternoon.

His previous lap was marred by an off in the final corner.

22 min: While Sebastien Bourdais struggles with all sorts of problems in the Toro Rosso, his teammate Sebastian Vettel continues to shine, posting the third fastest time with a 1:16.478, just over half a second behind Lewis Hamilton, who is currently fastest.

23 min: Fernando Alonso continues to run well in the Renault. His latest lap of 1:16.756 puts him fifth quickest at the moment.

24 min: Kazuki Nakajima is 20th and last, not having set a time in the Williams yet. The Japanese driver did come out onto the track, and began a flying lap, but he aborted and came back into the pits.

Clearly some issue with that car. The Williams team will now go to work and try to get Kazuki back on track.

25 min: Lewis Hamilton has rejoined the circuit, again with hard tyres on the McLaren.

26 min: Adrian Sutil comes out onto the track again and is going for it on soft tyres. The German improves to ninth place with a time of 1:17.075. We expect him to pit at the end of the lap, demonstrating that this was a qualifying simulation run.

28 min: Giancarlo Fisichella is also out there aboard the sister Force Indian VMJ01 car, and he was level with Sutil at the end of the second sector, but the Italian lost a lot of time in the twisty stadium section and completed the lap in 14th with a 1:17.283.

30 min: Felipe Massa is back out with the hard tyres on the Ferrari and improves his time to a 1:16.026, second quickest behind Hamilton.

He follows that up with a 1:16.147.

30 min: Kazuki Nakajima is out of his Williams and standing at the pit gantry as the mechanics attempt tio fix whatever issue there is with his car.

It would appear that it will be some time before Nakajima is able to come out again.

32 min: Adrian Sutil set three timed laps in the Force India on his soft tyre run, but couldn't better his initial time on the first lap of the run which was a 1:17.075.

Fisichella similarly pits after the third timed lap of the run. He was also on the softer of the two dry tyre compounds available.

34 min: Felipe Massa is pressing on as he warms his hard Bridgestones. His latest lap is a 1:15.845, just short of Hamilton's benchmark.

35 min: The Honda duo of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello have again sadly been rooted near the bottom of the timesheet so far in a dry Friday session. Both drivers have recently come out onto the track for a run of laps.

Barrichello spins wildly at turn one, losing control of the rear of the car at the apex of the right-hander. Rubens pits at the end of the lap while Button continues.

36 min: Robert Kubica is now sampling the softer Bridgestone tyre. He lies eighth in the order at present, just behind teammate Heidfeld.

39 min: Heikki Kovalainen pits his McLaren after his latest stint put him up to fourth quickest.

Teammate Hamilton continues to lap and just clocked a 1:15.939, despite a sizable moment over the kerbs in the final corner.

40 min: Kimi Raikkonen improves his best to a 1:16.045 as the current pace of both Ferrari and McLaren on their race evaluations hints at a close fight this weekend.

41 min: Problems down at Red Bull for Mark Webber. The team wanted Mark to go out and do some running, but they subsequently told the Australian over the radio that they were struggling to enable the clutch to allow him to get 1st gear so that he could pull away from the garage.

The machanics and engineers go to work on Webber's car.

45 min: Young home hero Sebastian Vettel is back on track, now with the softer tyre on his Toro Rosso. After traffic on the lap, his first attempt on that rubber came in at 1:17.206, over half a second slower than his current fifth-placed time.

45 min: Timo Glock is on the track using the soft tyre compound, and the German was on for an improvement in laptime, which would have moved him up from his current 15th position. However Timo pushed a little too hard at the exit of the final corner and ran wide onto the grasscrete, then the grass. As he hit a divot in the uneven grass the front end of the TF108 took off launching the front wheels well into the air.

Timo came back to Earth with a fearsome crunch and triggered the beam whilst still recovering the car.

He has decided to stay out there and continue on this current run of laps.

46 min: Robert Kubica elevates the BMW to fifth quickest with a 1:16.363 on the softer tyre.

47 min: Felipe Massa is resuming his work with hard rubber again on his Ferrari.

48 min: The Force India duo - Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella - are back out on track for another crack at a laptime.

Rubens Barrichello has also joined the racetrack while his teammate Jenson Button moonitors the Brazilian's progress from the garage.

Sebastien Bourdais, Kazuki Nakajima nor Mar Webber have made it back out onto the circuit yet after problems in the early stages of the session.

Indeed, Mark Webber is sitting at the Red Bull pit gantry talking to his team boss Christian Horner, and looks unlikely to make it back out anytime soon.

50 min: Massa's time in the pits yields a 1:15.722 on his return to the track, the fastest time of the afternoon session.

He pits the Ferrari.

50 min: Massa trundles through the lane and rejoins after a practice start, a common tactic employed by Ferrari.

52 min: Nico Rosberg springs up to seventh in the Williams as he runs the hard tyre at the moment.

53 min: Heikki Kovalainen is now on a flying lap with the softer tyre on his McLaren.

54 min: Kovalainen's effort on the softs is a 1:16.069, his best of the session so far and fourth overall.

Nico Rosberg continues to lap well and is now up to fifth.

56 min: Team radio at BMW Sauber.

Robert Kubica and his race engineer are talking tyres and how they are affecting the grip on the circuit. Kubica's engineer tells him that the tyre pressures were low during the first couple of laps on his last run, but that they came up to a suitable pressure after a few laps.

Robert is worried about this, and states that the car was not good on those first couple of laps, with low grip and a large amount of understeer, preventing him from going through turns 11 and 12 flat out. He s very concerned about this especially for qualifying and the race, because in his opinion it is killing the tyres, and therefore his laptime early on in stints.

BMW will probably raise the starting pressure up a touch for the next run and see how that affects the run overall.

56 min: Sebastian Vettel has changed tyres again and is now back out on soft rubber. He sets a 1:17.580, over a second slower than his best lap earlier in the session.

58 min: Timo Glock has been out on track again in the Toyota. He sets three personal best sector times on his latest lap to move up to 12th position with a time of 1:16.781.

Nelson Piquet is also out there and he is using the soft tyre compound for this run. The Renault driver moves up to 13th place, just behind Glock with a time of 1:16.853.

58 min: Both Heidfeld and Kubica are out testing the softer tyre on their BMWs.

59 min: Kazuki Nakajima is now back in the Williams, and is about to go out onto the racetrack, his car apparently fixed.

He is running on the soft tyre.

59 min: Lewis Hamilton joins the track with soft tyres on the McLaren.

62 min: Hamilton delivers a 1:15.739 on his soft rubber, his best of the session but fractions slower than Massa's benchmark.

62 min: With under half an hour remaining in the second practice session ahead of Sunday's German Grand Prix, Felipe Massa is currently fastest with a laptime of 1:15.722. Lewis Hamilton is less than a tenth of a second behind the Ferrari in second place, with Finns Raikkonen and Kovalainen third and fourth. Nico Rosberg is fifth in the Williams and Robert Kubica is sixth, 0.641 seconds behind Massa's time.

62 min: Kimi Raikkonen is also out on soft tyres.

64 min: Sunshine is breaking though the clouds at the moment, warming the track temperature to 32c.

Some threatening clouds remain in the distance but no further rain is anticipated for the rest of today's running.

64 min: Jenson Button is on track using the softer tyre and the Briton is set for an improvement on this lap. Jenson completes the circuit and leaps up to 12th place with a 1:16.683.

Behind him on the road Kazuki Nakajima has just completed a flying lap on the soft tyres and his time was 1:17.623.

65 min: Felipe Massa joins his co-leaders of the championship on track with soft tyres.

Raikkonen's first attempt was in the 1:20s but his recent effort is 1:16.102, just slower than his earlier best.

65 min: At Red Bull the repairs to Mark Webber's car are nearing completion. Mark is standing next to his car, hands on hips looking impatient to get going as the mechanics finish off sorting out an earlier problem when the car wouldn't go into first gear.

Webber should make it out onto the circuit in the next few minutes.

66 min: Massa's first flyer on soft rubber is 1:15.741, two thousandths of a second slower than Hamilton's recent shot on the same tyre.

67 min: Rubens Barrichello has jumped up the order on a run comparable to teammate Jenson Button. The Brazilian slots himself just ahead of Jenson with a time of 1:16.677 - just 0.006 seconds ahead of his teammate.

They are 12th and 13th in the standings currently.

71 min: Nelson Piquet is on the softer tyre again for this latest run of laps, and the Renault driver brakes too late for turn nine, running wide onto the extra tarmac area.

He continues on this run of laps but has slipped down the order to 15th place.

72 min: Mark Webber has eventually come out onto the racetrack in the repaired Red Bull racing entry. He is out there on the softer of the two tyre compounds available and is set to improve his laptime ...

73 min: Webber completes that lap with a time of 1:17.139 and remains near the bottom of the list in 17th position.

73 min: Kimi Raikkonen continues to press on with the softer tyre. His latest lap is his best so far, a 1:15.981, but he remains third in the standings.

74 min: The soft tyres are giving up grip on the second lap of the run and Webber completes the next lap and there is no improvement. He remains 17th.

74 min: The big guns conclude their stints and head for the pits in preparation for a final run.

75 min: Jenson Button has been out on the track again while we have been monitoring the progress of others. The Honda driver has jumped ahead of his teammate and also Fernando Alonso. Button is now 11th fastest with a time of 1:16.542.

77 min: After a long time sitting on the sidelines, Sebastien Bourdais might get the chance to do some further running. With less than 15 minutes remaining in the session the repairs to the Frenchman's Toro Rosso appear to be complete, He should join the track in the next couple of minutes.

78 min: Mark Webber is the latest man to run wide in the Sudkurve, the final corner. He bounced over the gravel and grass before resuming on the start/finish straight. He remains 17th after a troubled session for the Australian.

79 min: David Coulthard ran wide entering turn nine in his Red Bull, taking to the extra tarmac area, but continued without problem. Coulthard is ninth in the standings, just 0.793 seconds away from the pacesetter Felipe Massa.

79 min: Fernando Alonso has joined the racetrack after a long period in the garage.

79 min: Heikki Kovalainen improves to fourth on soft tyres with a 1:15.990.

82 min: Alonso is out there using the softer tyre and has a problem mid-corner at the hairpin, turn six. He gets oversteer powering out and backs off, choosing to complete the lap and start another one.

82 min: Felipe Massa is back out with soft tyres on the Ferrari and is on a quick lap.

84 min: Sebastien Bourdais is finally out on track and is on a hot lap, meantime Kazuki Nakajima has switched to the harder tyre compound for his last run of the day.

Bourdais completes that lap with a time of 1:17.536, 1.814 seconds off the front-running pace.

84 min: Massa's time is 1:15.733, one hundredth slower than his own best time. He had to collect a moment of oversteer at turn 11.

85 min: Bourdais goes on for another lap but there is no improvement and he remains in last place.

87 min: Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen head out of the garage for their final runs on soft tyres.

87 min: 19 out of the 20 drivers taking part this weekend are out on the racetrack as the session draws towards a conclusion. The only driver in the pits is the pacesetter, Felipe Massa.

88 min: Lewis Hamilton collects all three fastest sectors to top the session on a 1:15.025, the quickest time of the day.

89 min: Mark Webber is on his final run of laps, using the softer tyre to launch him up from 17th to the fifth position with a time of 1:16.017.

89 min: Raikkonen's soft tyre effort saw him remain third on a 1:15.760.

90 min: The session has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.

13:30 Kazuki Nakajima has improved in the Williams in the dying moments with a jump up to 17th place after breaking the beam with 1:16.829.

13:31 Hamilton followed up his flyer with a 1:15.431 and takes the flag in 1:15.798.

Raikkonen, in comparison, concluded his day with a 1:16.250 and a 1:16.370.

13:32 Sebastien Bourdais has also improved on his final timed lap of the day, moving up to 18th on a 1:16.860.

This demotes the Force India drivers Sutil and Fisichella into the last two positions on the timesheet.

13:33 A further test of the FIA standard ECU safety car software is being carried out at the conclusion of the session. This is designed to limit drivers' speed at the scene of an accident.

Safety car tests to continue at each race

13:36 Lewis Hamilton heads the second session at Hockenheim as well as the first. His late flyer of 1:15.025 was the fastest lap of the day. Felipe Massa was second in the Ferari, almost seven tenths of a second behind the Briton, with Kimi Raikkonen third, Heikki Kovalainen fourth, Mark Webber fifth and Fernando Alonso jumping up to sixth place in the latter stages.

13:37 Matt Beer has the details of a busy second session in Germany:

Hamilton also dominates second practice

13:40 Once again the weather prospects are uncertain as the Grand Prix weekend continues.

Tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions are remain under a threat of rain and autosport.com Live will have a full analysis of the forecast later this afternoon.

Weather Forecasts and Reports

13:51 On Friday's evidence, the prospects look good for a close fight between the championship contenders. The pace of both Ferraris and Hamilton's McLaren was relatively close over the longer race stints during this afternoon's session. Lewis was clearly on form over a single lap, topping both sessions, and may have the advantage of his McLaren being quicker in warming up the harder range of tyres available here in Germany.

As ever, the relative fuel loads are unknown, making it tricky to know the exact balance of power between the two teams.

The prospect of further rain tomorrow could add another element of unpredictability to the qualifying session and it may be the race itself before the relative pace becomes clear.

13:53 Friday at the Hockenheimring saw two sessions of practice that were both predictable but at the same time very interesting.

Showers early in the morning meant a wet track to start the day, but with little rain falling during the course of the morning session the track dried out progressively, allowing times to drop throughout the session. Lewis Hamilton ended up fastest but little could be gleaned from the times with the constantly changing track conditions.

Robert Kubica and Sebastien Bourdais both hit trouble in the morning, giving both BMW and Toro Rosso serious work to do in the break between sessions.

The track was bone dry by the time the second session began, allowing more meaningful running by all the teams. Sebastian Vettel was once again one of the stars of the show, running aggressively in the early portion of the afternoon, up there with the Ferraris and McLarens.

At the other end there were numerous tales of woe. Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Bourdais and Mark Webber all hit mechanical trouble and were compromised in terms of track time. All three managed to make it out onto the track towards the end of the session after sterling work from their teams, but all three will feel they could have done much more if they had got more time on track.

Up front Felipe Massa led the way for a large proportion of the session, but just as at Silverstone a fortnight ago, Lewis Hamilton came out onto the circuit in the dying minutes and jumped to the top of the timesheet. The McLaren driver set the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:15.025, which no doubt will get Ferrari in particular food for thought overnight.

Tomorrow practice will continue at Hockenheim. Then later the qualifying session where we will sort out the grid for Sunday's race. Our coverage will begin at 08:30 GMT. Please join us as we find out who will start from the front row of the grid for Sunday's Santander German Grand Prix.

  OVERVIEW PRACTICE TWO  
Session length: 90 minutes
 View official live timing
  CURRENT WEATHER
Mainly sunny High Temp: 22°C / 72°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 14 Jul Start GMT
 Weather Forecasts and Reports 15:00
Friday 18 Jul
 Friday Practice 07:30
Saturday 19 Jul
 Final Practice and Qualifying 08:30
Sunday 20 Jul
 Raceday at Hockenheim 08:00
  ABOUT
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are autosport.com's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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