F1 Raceweek: Rosberg dominates Hamilton as Alonso celebrates birthday


Nico Rosberg began his response to losing first place in the Formula One drivers' standings by dominating Friday's two practice sessions for the German Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton's victory in Hungary last time out moved him into top spot for the first time in 2016, but the Briton struggled to tame his Mercedes around the Hockenheimring and was routinely slower than his title rival.

Rosberg's quickest times in each session were over three tenths quicker than Hamilton's and the German also had the advantage in FP2's long-run simulations compared to his team-mate, turning in quicker laps on both soft and super soft tyres.

The German won from pole last time Hockenheim hosted F1 and certainly looks on course to repeat the trick.

Red Bull and Ferrari were well-matched, with Sebastian Vettel setting the third-quickest time of the day and coming six tenths closer to the Mercedes in the second session than he had been earlier.

The four-time world champion also got 22 laps out of a pair of softs before suffering a wobble on track and swapping them.

On his 35th birthday, Fernando Alonso was presented with a cake and balloons ahead of FP1 and the two-time champion was perhaps afforded a more comfortable day, with only team-mate Jenson Button and Haas' Romain Grosjean completing fewer laps.

McLaren revealed afterwards that Button had left the circuit to have an "eye irritation" examined at hospital, with a water leak limiting Grosjean.