Classic British weather meant that practice 1 for the 2022 British GP was interrupted by rain. Yet in FP2 we started to see the pecking order of the drivers and teams, many of whom have brought significant upgrades for the Silverstone race.
Due to the lack of rubber laid down during the first wet practice session, we saw plenty of drivers failing to maximise their quick laps. The wind and the jagged kerbs saw Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton all running off the circuit as they searched for grip around the blustery Buckinghamshire course.
When the chequered flag fell, Ferraris Carlos Sainz was top of the pile almost half a second quicker than his team mate Charles LeClerc in 5th. Yet Sainz described the session as “challenging”.
“The wind made it tricky to get the right balance for the high-speed sections and the correct compromise for tyres in the low-speed ones,” said Sainz. “Overall we were quick, but it felt like there is margin to improve.”
Given Charles LeClerc has bested Sainz most this season, it was a statement from the Spaniard that he is not prepared to be a number 2 driver.
LeClerc claimed his lack of performance was due to power unit problems, “I don’t know if there were radio messages on the coverage but overall, just some power unit things that were making it very difficult to drive,” said Leclerc. “But it’s fine. I mean, it’s small set ups more than problems, so we will modify it for tomorrow.”
Lewis Hamilton was surprisingly next quickest to Sainz after Mercedes brought a huge package upgrade for the Silverstone race. Mercedes had struggled in the back to back street races in Monaco and Baku but performed much better in Canada where Lewis scored a podium OP3.
Mercedes Tech director Andre Shoviln explained, “We’ve still got a lot to improve but the car is working much better at this track than the last few street circuits.”
“It’s really hard to evaluate whether the updates are doing exactly what we’d expect, especially in the windy conditions, but we’ve not seen anything worrying so we’ll continue with this specification for the rest of the weekend.
“Lewis put in a strong lap on the soft compound but we expect the fast teams to have plenty to come tomorrow so we need to work hard to iron out a few of the balance and bouncing issues. Lots of work to do overnight, but a reasonably encouraging start to the weekend.”
It’s been a rare sight to see a Mercedes and a Renault powered car in the top 3 during practice this season as Lando Norris soft tyre run during the second half of the session saw him grab P3.
Though the McLaren driver admitted he had nervous moments due to the wind
“It’s been a tricky day, just the wind conditions make it extremely difficult,” said Norris. “So as good as it looks, it’s still difficult to put things together and to be consistent and so on, especially in the long run.”
“I’m happy the car seems to be in a decent place at least, a little bit better than we were expecting. Whether that’s good or not, or whether that’s because we’ve turned it up more than the others, we don’t know. So as far as we know from ourselves, things are in a good area and we can find some more improvements into tomorrow.”
Red Bull have had the best long run data in practice at most rounds of the F1 season to date, but Sergio Perez revealed the team had a difficult time at Silverstone finishing P4 and P7 in the latest practice session.
Sergio revealed the car was not behaving as they expected following simultion runs back at base.
“It wasn’t a great session today,” said Perez, “from the preparation I had on the simulator the car is miles off that.
“We suspect the issues are related to the aerodynamics, but I can’t go into too much detail until I see the data properly and then we need to understand the problems. It will be difficult to catch up, but we have done it before and as long as we are able to get things in the right place we should be good. Ferrari look strong and I hope we can match them tomorrow come qualifying.”
Rain is likely for qualifying and Fernando Alonso believes this will be difficult for all the teams to negotiate.
“At the moment the weather looks quite bad for third practice,” said Alonso, “so it feels like that is going to be a challenging weekend. Tomorrow if it’s wet, let’s see if we get some rain in FP3 just in preparation for quali that could be wet as well.”
A wet qualifying may well mix up the grid again for the race start, but McLaren look as though they may well push Mercedes to be the third fastest team on the grid