British fans came out strong on Friday at Silverstone, as 106,000 of them braved the rain and enjoyed the next rays of sun at the motorsport home. So, after two training sessions – one of which was dry – who looks hot and who has to work overnight?
1. Ferrari at home at Silverstone’s sweeping turns
There is something about this place that showed the best in Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver who finished third, third and second in the last three rounds of the event – but it was his teammate Carlos Sainz who shone on Friday. .
The Spaniard was impressive in FP2 and our perfect lap data shows he could have had an even bigger advantage had he put his best mini segments together. Leclerc would move up to second on this scale, with Ferrari emerging as the strongest in qualifying.
Their race pace wasn’t promising, but they stayed second overall, tenths of Red Bull, and lead the way in terms of speed in slow turns. If they manage to qualify well, they are vying for their first win since the Australian Grand Prix.
2. A long night in front of Red Bull after a hard day
Red Bull were the favorites at Silverstone, not only because they had won the last six races on the jump but because they had a car that had a straight-line advantage over their direct competitors.
But Friday’s practice wasn’t very smooth. Max Verstappen was not happy with how the car felt the whole time, and the Dutchman pointed out strange noises on the team radio. His teammate Sergio Perez suffered even more, saying the car was “miles away” than they expected based on simulation data.
Despite the difficulties – and the lack of cohesion – Perez remained positive this coming weekend, saying Ferrari look strong “but nothing too special” and expecting the championship leaders to be able to match the red cars that come in qualifying.
3. It seems that his Mercedes promotion is a step forward
The good news for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is that the W13 wasn’t jumping the straights. The bad news was that he was bouncing quite a bit during the sweeping turns.
Overall, it was a positive day for the world champions – and early signs are that their updated car is a step forward, bringing them closer to Ferrari and Red Bull, the fastest ever in high-speed corners.
Both drivers feel there is work to be done in one lap, but the pace of the race was very encouraging. “Usually we see some kind of gap, half a second, maybe even seven, eight tenths for the fastest teams in the long run – that doesn’t seem to have been,” said Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes racetrack chief.
“Maybe it’s a little bit on the track, the track fits the car. There’s definitely a lot to work on, there’s a lot of rebound and it’s tough at high speed at the moment, but hopefully the updates have kind of pushed us in the right direction.”
Our data suggests that they are third in the long-term, at about 0.67 seconds – but the word inside the track is that the silver arrows at the end are a little closer than that.
4. McLaren looks handy at home
Lando Norris finished fifth in 2020 and fourth in 2021, but as he enters the race at home it doesn’t look like McLaren has the speed to continue that pattern and secure the podium.
The top three may still be stretched, but Norris was in good shape on Friday, showing such strong speed that he even surprised himself with how quickly he came into the third fastest. On the strait, only Williams was the best.
Our data shows they are close to fourth in lap speed, making Q3 the bottom line of the target, and as they fall back to fifth in the race pace standings, they can take hope from the strides they took from Friday to Saturday that helped them do better. than expected.
5. Alpine horses can be dark
Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were keen to downplay Friday’s strong Alpine pace, but the data suggests the greatly upgraded package has delivered in a big way.
Their pace puts them in qualifying for fifth, but that improves to fourth and better than the rest when looking at the high fuel, just three tenths of a second per lap within walking distance of the Mercedes – the closest of the year. Their straight-line speed is still strong, and that’s a huge asset about the fast and flowing Silverstone.
The caveat is that they struggled to hold an impressive pace on Friday, in terms of both short and long distances, into the weekend in recent events – especially on Sunday when the points are distributed. But they can take heart from early signs that their promotion is working as expected, and with some good homework overnight, a good move can be made on Saturday.
With wet weather expected, and perhaps even qualifying, Alonso could be feeling very excited, having excelled in those conditions on his way to second on the grid the last time in Canada.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”