Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have both spoken of their excitement ahead of a shortened and unpredictable Eifel GP weekend, with the record-chasing Englishman relishing the “serious challenge”.
Both Friday practice sessions were cancelled at the Nurburgring due to heavy fog, meaning Formula 1’s elite will have only an hour of practice, at most, before qualifying and the race – the first at the circuit since 2013.
Sky F1’s live Eifel GP schedule
The weather also gives F1 an unexpected early test of a two-day event ahead of Imola later this month, and with the forecast mixed for the rest of the weekend – brighter on Saturday but more rain on Sunday – there are even more variables in play for the Eifel GP.
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“It’s definitely a bit frustrating to miss out on days like this,” said Hamilton, who is bidding to equal Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91 wins, after Friday.
“We probably wouldn’t have got a huge amount of running in really because we’re limited on tyres, but I would have loved to done even an install lap. But everyone’s in the same boat.
“But I’m definitely [excited], especially if it stays like this. Hopefully clearer skies but wet… it definitely makes it a serious challenge with less practice. So I look forward to that.”
Practice Three, provided it takes place, will be many drivers’ first experience of the Nurburgring track. It is set to start at 11am on Saturday, live only on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying at 2pm.
“I don’t mind [the lack of Friday], I actually like it,” stated Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who won a wet race in Germany last year. “It makes everything a bit more tricky and interesting.”
He added: “It’s going to be really cold so that is already a challenge to get the tyres like how we want. I think tomorrow is going to be a bit better, and we’ll see what happens.”
Practice Three is usually a session which is exclusively for qualifying-style runs, although teams will now be trying to squeeze as many laps as possible into the hour.
“We need to be really efficient on what we do,” explained Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate. “Obviously we have to change every single plan. We’ll need short runs for qualifying, and long runs for the race.”
Germany + October = a wet and cold F1 weekend
Even without Friday’s rain and fog, it was set to be a wild weekend at the Nurburgring – with Sunday’s race predicted to be one of F1’s coldest ever.
Poor weather in October in Germany is perhaps to be expected, particularly after the Nurburgring 24 Hours a fortnight ago was delayed for nine hours due to adverse conditions. Although a Japanese GP, which was previously scheduled for this weekend, also certainly isn’t guaranteed to be dry.
F1, in trying to squeeze in as many European races as possible, had few options when putting together a somewhat miraculous 17-race calendar, starting in July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s probably nine months of the year here where you’re risking this kind of issue,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle. “But it’s the first time we’ve really been caught out this season.
“This is Round 11 of 17, we’ve got it this far, and finally we’ve been stopped in our tracks. And perhaps not the way we feared it might be, in terms of the weather.”
2016 world champion Nico Rosberg added: “We have to say what a phenomenal job F1 has done in this time.”
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