Practice Two was delayed after F2 Qualifying only just finished less than 10 minutes before the official start of FP2. There was a big crash at Copse corner which led to a lengthy red flag: the barriers at Copse had to be repaired ahead of the F1 cars returning to track.
Before the start of FP2, Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok on Ferrari’s hopes this weekend at the Silverstone circuit: “I think one of the things they have tried to address is the wind sensitivity of the car because that is a huge factor around Silverstone. In the early part of they year they talked about how they had this car which was on a precipice really. As soon as the wing picked up a few kilometres, they just lost downforce. Hopefully the update package has addressed that. They seemed reasonable in FP1, they’re in that ballpark with Aston Martin and Alex Albon was the surprise leader of the pack (behind Red Bull).”
After a five-minute delay, away we went for second practice at the British Grand Prix. Nyck de Vries led the cars out of the pit lane under the Silverstone sun. A mix of hard and medium tyres were out there in the early stages and it was Oscar Piastri who went fastest on a 1:30.027.
With 55 mins to go in FP2, Sergio Perez briefly went fastest but Max Verstappen went even faster by 0.464s on the mediums. Charles Leclerc had not been out on track, and we soon found out why. Ferrari confirmed there was an “electrical issue” on his SF-23 car, which they they were working on. Hopefully that didn’t keep the Monegasque out of action for too long – he’s had enough bad luck this season already.
Lewis Hamilton’s first timed effort ended with him going wide at the penultimate corner. He was seven tenths of a second off Verstappen’s early benchmark through the first two sectors, while George Russell slotted into P6 in the other Mercedes, behind the two Alpine cars. Ferrari continued to work on fixing the electrical issue on Charles Leclerc’s car, as Ted Kravitz feared it was an issue that could well keep him out of the session if it was a complex fix.
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Fernando Alonso was the first driver onto the soft tyres but could only go P2: he set a purple second sector, but his Aston Martin did not look to stable during the final part of the lap and he couldn’t beat Carlos Sainz’s current benchmark. The Aston Martin is 0.051s off his compatriot. Soon after, we saw a stonking lap from Max Verstappen first up on the soft tyre as he posted a 1:28.078. He was four tenths faster through the first sector than Carlos Sainz on the medium tyres and was nine tenths up through the second as the car stuck to the floor through Maggots and Becketts. He ended up a second ahead of the Spaniard but more drivers were completing their soft tyre runs to close up to the Dutchman.
Midway through the session, Fernando Alonso was told to slow down by his Aston Martin engineer. There was an issue with the Spaniard’s front left, with possible debris caught. And just a few moments later, Lance Stroll reported his left mirror was broken and also needed to come into the pits.
Carlos Sainz did his soft tyre effort and he couldn’t quite beat Max Verstappen: 0.022s was all that split the Red Bull and the Ferrari. The Spaniard felt he was in the best form of his F1 career and was bringing the fight again this weekend it would appear.
As time passed, it indeed looked like Charles Leclerc would get no running in this session. Ted reported the human wall at Scuderia Ferrari has disbanded and “that is a sure fire sign they have given up getting Charles Leclerc out in this session and it will take a car rebuild to fix it.”
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg was slowest in Practice One but put his Haas seventh after the qualifying simulations in this session. The long runs were under way but the one-lap pace seemed to be very close. Max Verstappen is just 0.022s ahead of Carlos Sainz, with Alex Albon and Sergio Perez both within three tenths of the Dutchman. Rain is expected tomorrow at Silverstone but even a dry Qualifying would be very exciting.
It was a painful one for Lance Stroll as his left hand got hit by a loose stone on track. The Canadian said he could continue but visibly has to take his hand off the wheel as he headed down the Hangar Straight.
Pirelli have brought a new tyre construction to the British Grand Prix that will be used for the remainder of the season. The tyre manufacturer revealed their pre-season predictions did not expected the high loads that have been put into the tyres so far this season. The tyre pressures are also very high, with the front tyres at 26.5psi and the rears at 23psi. This will change the tyre behaviour a lot and explains the grip struggles from some drivers, particularly in the slow-speed corners.
Williams could be a beneficiary of these changes and maybe Mercedes have lost out. It’s still very early to say, but the signs were certainly there today.
Carlos Sainz was told Hamilton’s pace on the soft tyres was a “1:33.6 and a 1:34.3” and the Spaniard responds, “that is quick”. Mercedes’ race pace looked much better than their one-lap speed, with clearly less tyre degradation than Ferrari.
Chequered flag was flying and that was that for Friday practice at Silverstone. It was another Friday double for Max Verstappen as he ended the session fastest again, 0.022s ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari. Alex Albon though was the star of today with another third place finish for Williams.