German automobile magazine ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ reports that the Mercedes engineers predict a Ferrari front-row, based on the data they analyzed after the second free practice session for the 2022 Formula 1 British Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit.
In the longrun it looks close between Scuderia Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, who at this track looks indeed capable of challenging the two teams that were clearly fastest in this first part of the season. Ferrari looked consistent, Mercedes struggleed in the first sector, while Red Bull in the third sector. Red Bull were the fastest on the straights but Ferrari was just 4 km/h behind.
Mercedes engineers explain: “If we take the fuel level and the power mode into account, Ferrari is half a second faster than us [one lap]. But Lewis on the mediums and George on the hard tyres are on a par with Ferrari in the longrun.” – ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ informs. The Mercedes engineers also feel that the softs are not a race tyre. Pirelli has pumped them up to record levels of 26 PSI at the front and 23 PSI at the rear. Teams fear punctures and prefer to choose the two harder compounds for safety reasons.
The first day of practice at Silverstone was limited to one practice session. Rain in first practice minimized track activity to 85 laps. “As a result, many teams split their tasks and tires in the afternoon to make up at least part of the missing information,” explained chief engineer Andrew Shovlin. In addition to Mercedes, Haas, Alpha Tauri, Alfa Sauber and Aston Martin also chose this plan. Ferrari was the star for one lap. In the long runs, Red Bull and Mercedes were equal. Mercedes noted small improvements with the upgrade, but cannot quantify them exactly. It is difficult to distinguish what comes from the modified W13 and what from the track characteristics.
The three teams with massive upgrades have had different experiences. Very positive for one lap, but with damage. Alpine in the area of the cooling fins, Aston Martin on the underbody, Williams on the diffuser. All three teams refrained from long runs. Alpine is even considering retiring its new aero package.
Ferrari is hard to beat in one lap, so Mercedes predicts a first starting row in red. In the long run it looks closer. On the soft tires, Max Verstappen was four hundredths faster than Carlos Sainz. On the medium tyre, Charles Leclerc was on average only five thousandths ahead of Lewis Hamilton. However, the Ferrari driver did two more laps in his long run than eight-time Silverstone winners. Carlos Sainz, who set the fastest lap time in FP2, was satisfied: “The car felt fast. The strong wind made it difficult for us to find the right balance between the high-speed corners and the slow corners.”
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When analyzing the sectors, it is noticeable that Ferrari sets the tone in all three sectors. On circuits that demand a lot of downforce, the red cars are the absolute benchmark. However, the distances to the competition are minimal. In the first sector 0.042 seconds on Lando Norris, in the second 0.010 seconds on Lewis Hamilton and in the third 0.065 seconds on Hamilton again. While Ferrari is incredibly consistent, their opponents all have a weakness. Mercedes in the first sector, Red Bull and McLaren in the third.