Fernando Alonso was third again today, while in the other F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen ended up ninth.
Silverstone – There were no great surprises come the end of the first three hours of free practice for Sunday’s British Grand Prix. The Mercedes team, based very close to the Silverstone track, in the town of Brackley, were the dominant force, with Lewis Hamilton topping the time sheet ahead of Nico Rosberg. As we have seen already this season, Fernando Alonso is often the best of the rest and the Ferrari man was third again today, while in the other F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen ended up ninth on the final timesheet of the day, once again finding life a bit tougher than his team-mate.
After running nothing but Soft and Supersoft tyres at the last three Grands Prix, Silverstone marks the return of the Medium and Hard Pirellis, so while the buzzwords from those past races, graining and wear, were not appropriate today, the usual difficulties with getting the Hards up to temperature have returned.
Following the anomalies of Austria, the more aero-dependent curves of this airfield track seem to mark a return to form for Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel fourth and fifth respectively, while Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Williams, suggesting the team’s form in Austria was genuine. Actually the Finn only drove in the afternoon, because in the morning session lots of press attention was focussed on the appearance of Susie Wolff in the Williams cockpit, the first woman to be part of an F1 race weekend for 22 years.
Track conditions are key here and naturally, they improved as more rubber went down, so that FP2 times were around a second faster than in the morning. However, if the threat of overnight rain materialises, then the extra grip could literally be washed away, while there’s a strong chance it could still be raining when qualifying gets underway at 13h00 local time; always an exciting prospect at this high speed track.
Fernando Alonso: “This Friday was much like any other and we followed our programme, testing some components and working on set-up in the morning, while evaluating both tyre compounds in the afternoon, looking at the Medium with both qualifying and the race in mind. There were no problems with wear or graining on the softer compound, while in order to correctly evaluate the Hard, we will have to wait for a long run test. For now, I can say it’s hard to get them up to temperature. Now, as usual, we must analyse everything to understand which components to use tomorrow, although if as predicted, it rains tomorrow, then in reality the data we got today will be more useful for the race. Here, there’s always a strong wind and in some corners it’s a help, while in others it’s a hindrance, but it’s the same for everyone. Now, all we can do is wait and see how things turn out.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This morning in the first session things went reasonably well. We followed the standard programme, including analysing car behaviour on the Hard tyres and we just had a few problems with traction at some points on the track and a bit of understeer in the high speed corners. In the second session, we made some small changes which did not work and the handling of the car was not the same. Putting a good lap together was really difficult and so we went back to the morning settings, but unfortunately we had the same problems. Now we must find out what happened between the two sessions, even if I think it’s partly down to the track conditions and the gusts of wind, which were very strong today. I’m sure that studying the data will give us the information we need to prepare as well as possible for tomorrow.”
Pat Fry: “At Silverstone, the weather is often unsettled and that can have a strong influence on the outcome of practice and the race. Therefore, it’s vital for the drivers to do a lot of laps to get as confident as possible with the car. Today, despite a strong and inconsistent wind, we were able to work through our programme without encountering any particular problems. On both cars, we tried some new aerodynamic components and various electronic settings, while on the power unit front we continued to acquire data useful for our development programme. At the same time, we went through the usual set-up tests to find the most suitable one for this track, as well as paying attention to tyre behaviour over short and long runs. It wasn’t easy to find the ideal balance as well as managing the degradation and while Fernando managed to complete a long run, with Kimi, we continued working on set-up to try and resolve some problems that cropped up on his car. Now we must find the best compromise to help both drivers to get the right stability for the rest of the weekend, taking into account that the weather is meant to get worse for tomorrow with a chance of rain.”