Morning After: Mercedes the Front-Runners

Free of the concerns about temperatures that plagued them in Austria, Mercedes were back to their usual selves on Friday at Silverstone.

I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.

Mercedes, simply unable to keep on the pace in Austria, have resumed regularly scheduled programming at Silverstone.

Topping the Friday timesheets courtesy of a Valtteri Bottas-Lewis Hamilton 1-2, coupled with some untouchable pace on the long runs, it seems the Silver Arrows are once again their imperious selves.

To be fair to Ferrari, Charles Leclerc was only a tenth off the best time of Hamilton, but the Briton clearly struggled with the wind and freshly-resurfaced track, and I think it’s fair to assume the five-time world champion will only get stronger as the weekend goes on.

Indeed, don’t be surprised if it’s actually Red Bull behind Bottas and Hamilton come Sunday. Both Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly (let’s hope he keeps it up!) shone on Friday, and if the track proves as temperamental to the tyres as Hamilton believes it will, they could once again out-perform the Scuderia.

Friday Figures

1:30.785. Seven-lap average of Hamilton’s medium-tyre run in FP2, 0.484s up on his teammate (7 laps), with the rest of the field even further back. Even at this early stage, that’s pretty ominous.

1:27.173. Best time in FP1, set by Pierre Gasly. More impressively, it was also good enough to split the Ferraris in FP2 – maybe copying Max’s setup is making a difference?

0.307 seconds. Difference between Carlos Sainz (P8) and Antonio Giovinazzi (P17) in FP2. Suffice to say, Formula 1.5 could get very interesting this weekend.

Quick Hits

Holy cow, Romain Grosjean! Baku ’18 was bad enough, but this? Also the man himself saying it was a ‘bit’ embarrassing is like saying Rich Energy have lost a ‘bit’ of credibility. C’mon man!

Speaking of Rich Energy – and embarrassments for that matter – it seems they took another step towards their inevitable conclusion on Friday, with Whyte Bikes filing for the company to be wound-up and the bankruptcy of owner William Storey. It’s only a matter of time now, and here’s hoping Haas’ next title sponsor actually has a product to sell.

Apparently it’s that time again: Jean Todt has reignited the ‘refuelling in F1’ debate, suggesting he’d be in favour of bringing it back for the 2021 season. Personally, I think it would be a waste of time – the concern should be on improving the quality of racing, and that’s done by addressing the issue of cars being unable to follow and pass in corners, not reintroducing something that reduces efficiency, increases danger to the pit crew, and as we saw in the Schumacher era, does nothing for competitive balance or unpredictability.