Max Verstappen remained on top at the end of FP2 for the 2023 British Grand Prix, as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz closed in on the reigning Formula 1 Champion while Alex Albon continued his superb performance.
Verstappen was effortless as he pounded in the laps around Silverstone on Friday afternoon the RB19 looking as if running on rails around the historic track.
Ferrari seemed to be best of the rest with Sainz second fastest behind Verstappen, but Charles Leclerc could not take part in the session as he was confined to the garage with an electrical problem.
For the second practice session today, Williams sprung a surprise as Albon was the third fastest driver once again, the FW45 quite slippery on the Silverstone straights.
Logan Sargeant capped off another encouraging session for Williams, the American rookie finishing fifth fastest. But the question remains, can they maintain that form come Qualifying and the race?
On the other hand, Pirelli have some work to do as their new tyre compounds suffered a sudden failure on Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri while on his long runs.
Buildup towards FP2
There were no major surprises in FP1, as Verstappen once again showed he is the man to beat this weekend in Great Britain, while teammate Perez was the closest to him.
Despite Albon going third fastest, most probably a first-practice anomaly, the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz as well as Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin seemed to be fighting behind the Red Bulls.
Mercedes on the other hand did not feature in the top ten, but they haven’t used the Soft tyres in FP1, while Andrew Shovlin, their Director of Trackside Engineering, said their new front wing seemed to another move in the right direction.
“We’ve obviously got the new front wing, so working through some items on that. We didn’t run the soft tyre, so it looks like there’s quite a lot of performance on that,” Shovlin said. “We were really just focused on getting all the test items into FP1 and then we’ve got a more normal programme in FP2.
“We got the comments from the drivers (on the front wing), both tried comparing them in different directions, lap time wise it looks to be a step in the right direction.
“But the big thing we want to do is get all the download data, do the analysis on that, and see what it’s doing to the flow of the air across the car, then it will tell us whether it’s doing what we think it should,” the Mercedes engineer concluded.
Worth noting that Pirelli have their new-construction tyres available for the teams this weekend. These compounds were planned for 2024, but were brought earlier as the Italian tyre manufacturer did not anticipated the loads the 2023 F1 cars are exerting on the tyres.
Silverstone FP2 session highlights
The start of FP2 was delayed by five minutes as there was a huge crash at Copse during Formula 2 Qualifying, which caused a lengthy Red Flag while the barriers required repairs.
All the cars set out on track with a mix of Medium and Hard tyres bolted on them, the Softs kept for later when qualifying runs are planned.
Leclerc couldn’t join the action immediately as he remained in the Ferrari garage, as the team worked on fixing an electrical issue on his SF-23.
15 minutes into the session, Zhou Guanyu radioed the team with a problem. “Something is broken,” he said. After which he pitted and the team gave him a spare steering wheel.
Oscar Piastri seemed to be enjoying his upgraded MCL60, as the rookie was running close to his teammate, Lando Norris.
Before the halfway mark, Alonso was the first driver to switch onto Soft tyres for some qualifying simulations. His first effort put him second fastest at the time. Soon Verstappen followed suit and went top of the screens.
The Williams drivers continued their decent showing, both Albon and Sargeant featuring in the top five at one point of the session.
Halfway into the session, Alonso was asked by the team to slow down as there seems to be a debris was caught in the front left wheel.
Lance Stroll in the other car soon reported a broken left mirror and asked to box to fix it, saying: “It just snapped.”
Lewis Hamilton seemed to be struggling with understeer in his W14 as he ran wide at Turn 16 three times during the session.