Are Mercedes wings clipped without FRIC system?

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Friday’s Free Practice session for the German Grand Prix may have shed a little light on the continuing FRIC controversy as teams opted to run their cars without the front-rear suspension linking system. Many had suspected that Mercedes—current championship dominators—were using a very advanced version of the system and perhaps without it, they may find their wings slightly clipped.

If Friday’s practice times are any indication, that could be the case as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was only a tenth off the pace:

Pos Driver                Team                   Time      Gap      Laps
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes               1m18.341s           38
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m18.365s  +0.024s  39
 3. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault       1m18.443s  +0.102s  35
 4. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                1m18.887s  +0.546s  38
 5. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes       1m18.960s  +0.619s  40
 6. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes      1m19.024s  +0.683s  36
 7. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m19.221s  +0.880s  40
 8. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m19.248s  +0.907s  35
 9. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m19.329s  +0.988s  32
10. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes      1m19.385s  +1.044s  34
11. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari         1m19.417s  +1.076s  41
12. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault     1m19.452s  +1.111s  27
13. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes   1m19.581s  +1.240s  28
14. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m19.593s  +1.252s  32
15. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault     1m19.760s  +1.419s  32
16. Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault          1m20.158s  +1.817s  35
17. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m20.358s  +2.017s  35
18. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari         1m20.504s  +2.163s  40
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari       1m21.328s  +2.987s  31
20. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault       1m21.870s  +3.529s  21
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari       1m21.898s  +3.557s  28
22. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault       1m23.728s  +5.387s  12

Asked by the press if removing the FRIC system had an impact, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamitlon said:

“Finding the sweet spot with the car is just in a different place now,” said Hamilton.

“So we’re really trying to get that right.”

Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, feels that the lack of a FRIC system is a bigger issue:

“For sure it will shuffle things around a little bit without this FRIC system,” he said.

“There are some new challenges to re-balance the car and figure my way out to get happy in the car.

“There was good progress. I was happy in the car this morning and tried some different things.”

It’s difficult to determine definitive results with a practice session as teams are all running different programs but there is no doubt that Red Bull have some hope for a day at least.

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