The Friday of F1 British GP had teams talking about the re-surface at Silverstone as Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Ferrari feels to be on the backfoot, while Haas has more troubles.
For once, Hamilton did not top either of the practice sessions on Friday, with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas heading FP2 and Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly leading the way in a disrupted FP1 of F1 British GP at a re-surfaced Silverstone.
Not only Hamilton but even the Ferrari duo along with Verstappen felt a bit downbeat. The British racer did not feel at his best shape as he said that Bottas was far more happy from the get-go. “It’s been quite windy, quite gusty out there,” said Hamilton.
“So it hasn’t been the easiest of days, but we were up there nonetheless, and it looks like we’ll be in the fight. It’s always difficult to say after the first day though and the Ferraris are usually a little bit slower on a Friday and then pick up the pace on Saturday.
“The new track surface is better on the straights, especially between T4 and T6 where it was pretty bad before. It’s still bumpy on the exit of T7 and towards Copse, but after that it’s nice and smooth through Maggotts and Becketts and down the Hanger straight.
“The asphalt is very smooth which makes it tricky to get the tyres to work, they’re in and out of the window, and the gusty winds didn’t make it easy. I was struggling with the rear end and went off a few times, but Valtteri seemed much more comfortable in the car.
“So, we are going to dig deep tonight trying to figure out what the issue is and how we can solve it for Saturday.” In a similar boat was Verstappen, who did not feel as good as teammate Gasly, especially on the balance side of his F1 car.
“It was not so good and I didn’t find a good balance with the car in FP1 or FP2,” said Verstappen. “I was sliding around a lot in the wind and struggling for rear grip, so we have a bit of work to do. Even though I’m not fully comfortable yet we’re not that far away.
“The times are pretty close which is a positive. There is a lot more grip with the new tarmac which all drivers like. In general, the new surface is quite a good change but there are some pretty bumpy sections out there, especially going into T6 and T9.
“It’s not very easy on tyres here with the high energy corners so it will be interesting to see what choices everyone makes. It’s promising that we are still quite close to Mercedes and Ferrari so there is still a lot of potential for the weekend.”
Like Verstappen, the Ferrari F1 drivers felt and admitted to be in the fight against Red Bull rather than Mercedes. “It was a tricky day for us,” said Charles Leclerc. “We struggled with our front tyres during the long-runs quite a bit.
“We have to focus on understanding how we can get them to work better. The qualifying pace, on the other hand, was not bad and we also managed to run a lot of tests throughout the day which is positive.”
Teammate Sebastian Vettel had similar feelings, bit Bottas and Gasly were a touch more positive about their own chances after a good Friday. It was similar for McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris as well, who started the weekend with a double Top 10.
The team continued with its fine run to assert its dominance in the fight for fourth, especially after issues for Renault in FP2. The French F1 outfit had a decent FP1 but lost ground with both Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg outside the Top 10.
Hulkenberg felt they lacked performance over one lap but race pace seemed fine, while Ricciardo’s run was cut short due to Spec A engine issue. The Australian will need another chassis as well after team found a crack due to a possible kerb hit.
It looks like McLaren is well settled inside the Top 10 and Renault along with Toro Rosso and Racing Point could be challenging for track position with both having a good outing to start with especially for Alexander Albon and Sergio Perez.
Apart from these, Alfa Romeo Racing‘s day with Kimi Raikkonen was slightly cut short with an engine issue in FP1. The Finn was able to run more in FP2 but he and Antonio Giovinazzi couldn’t make it inside the Top 10, much like the Haas duo.
While Kevin Magnussen seemed OK with his run, it was disaster for Romain Grosjean, who had a freak FP1 incident and faced hydraulic issues later on, which severely hampered his day. “The start of the day was a bit embarrassing,” he said.
“I turned the pit-limiter button off, the tyres were a bit cold and grip was low, next thing I knew I was backwards. It didn’t feel so good. After that though we got back on track and ran our program. I had a bit of an issue with a hydraulic line in the afternoon.
“We missed around half an hour of the session, but we’re getting some good data. This is definitely a package I enjoy driving more, but the performance is not there yet, which is something you would expect.
“There’s been a lot of development through the car, and when you revert back to an early spec it’s tricky. There’s definitely a better feeling in it, we’re just looking to develop it now, understand it, and move forward.”