HomeSports5 things we learned in Friday practice at the British Grand Prix

5 things we learned in Friday practice at the British Grand Prix

British fans were out in force at Silverstone on Friday, with 106,000 braving the rain and enjoying the following sunshine at the birthplace of motorsport. So after two practice sessions – only one of which was dry – who looks hot and has work to do overnight?

1. Ferrari at ease in the big turns of Silverstone

There’s just something about this location that has brought out the best in Charles Leclerc, with the Ferrari driver having finished third, third and second in the last three races of this event – but it was his team-mate Carlos Sainz who shone brightest on Friday. .

FP2 REPORT: Sainz leads British duo of Hamilton and Norris in second practice at Silverstone

The Spaniard was impressive in FP2 and our ideal lap data shows he could have had an even bigger advantage had he put together all his best mini-sectors. Leclerc would move up to second in that metric, with Ferrari becoming the strongest of them all in qualifying.

Their race pace was not as promising, but they remain second overall, a few tenths behind Red Bull, and lead the way in terms of slow corner pace. If they can qualify well, they are very much in contention for a first victory since the Australian Grand Prix.

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2. A long night ahead for Red Bull after a difficult day

Red Bull was the favorite heading into Silverstone, not just because it has won the last six races instantly, but rather because it has a car that enjoys a straight-line speed advantage over its immediate rivals.

READ MORE: Red Bull ‘miles’ around Silverstone, says Perez – while Verstappen says it’s ‘no surprise’ to see Ferrari lead FP2

But practice on Friday was not so easy. Max Verstappen was unhappy with the feel of the car throughout, with the Dutchman referring to a strange noise on the team radio. Teammate Sergio Perez struggled even more, saying the car was “miles away” from what they had expected based on simulation data.

Despite the difficulties – and the lack of correlation – Perez remained positive about the weekend ahead, saying Ferrari looks solid “but nothing too special” and he expects the championship leaders to be able to match the red cars during qualifying.

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3. Mercedes upgrade seems like a step forward

The good news for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is that the W13 doesn’t bounce on the straights. The bad news was that it bounced around a bit in fast corners.

Overall, however, it was a positive day for the reigning world champions – and early signs are that their updated car is a step up, bringing them closer to Ferrari and Red Bull, and they are the most fast of all in high-speed corners.

READ MORE: ‘We’ve definitely made an improvement,’ says Hamilton after pleasing crowd in second practice session at Silverstone

Both riders feel like there is work to be done on a single lap, but their race pace is very encouraging. “Normally we see the kind of gap, half a second, maybe even seven, eight tenths with the fastest teams over a long run – and it didn’t seem to be there,” said Chief Andrew Shovlin. from the Mercedes track.

“It’s probably a bit of the circuit, the circuit that suits the car. There’s definitely a lot to work with, there’s a lot of twists and turns, and it’s tricky at high speeds right now, but hopefully the updates have somehow pushed us in the right direction.

Our data suggests they are third best at long distances, around 0.67 seconds off the pace – but word inside the paddock is that the Silver Arrows are ultimately a little closer than that.

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4. McLaren looks practical at home

Lando Norris finished the British Grand Prix fifth in 2020 and fourth in 2021, but entering his home race it didn’t look like McLaren had the pace to build on that momentum and secure a podium finish.

The top three might still be a stretch, but Norris was in fine form on Friday, showing such a fast pace that he even surprised himself how quickly he was on his way to the third fastest time. On the straights, only Williams put in the best performance.

READ MORE: Norris laments ‘extremely difficult’ first day of racing at Silverstone despite finishing third in FP2

Our data shows they are around fourth fastest in lap pace, making Q3 the minimum target and although they drop back to fifth in the race pace standings, they can look forward to stages that they crossed from Friday to Saturday. year that helped them achieve a better than expected performance.

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5. Alpine could be dark horses

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were keen to play down Alpine’s brisk pace on Friday, but the data suggests the heavily improved package was very effective.

Their qualifying pace puts them fifth, but that improves to fourth and best of the rest when you look at the high fuel running, just three tenths of a second per lap adrift of Mercedes – that’s the closest that they have been all year. Their straight-line speed remains strong, and that’s a huge asset around the fast and smooth Silverstone.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from a thrilling second practice session at the British Grand Prix

The caveat is that they struggled to maintain impressive speed Friday, in terms of short and long runs, through the weekend in recent events – particularly Sunday when the points are handed out. But they can rejoice at the first signs that their upgrade is working as planned, and with some good homework overnight, a good milestone is possible on Saturday.

And with wet weather forecast, possibly even scorching in qualifying, Alonso could be feeling very excited, having excelled in these conditions en route to second on the grid last time out in Canada.

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