British Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

Friday at Silverstone perfectly encapsulated the British Summer. “Flaming June” seems to be reserved for Sunday, as overcast conditions ruled the day. FP1 was a total washout and while conditions improved for FP2, drivers still had to be weary of rouge puddles which were an ever-present danger. Despite this, Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the day, with a lap on par with last year’s benchmark set in the dry FP3 session. Mercedes once again look very strong over the single lap, yet Red Bull also impressed in typical fashion. 


FP1

The first session of the British Grand Prix Weekend was far from captivating as a rain soaked circuit kept many cars in the garage for the majority of the 90 minutes. The occasional installation lap kept the fans awake as umbrellas and raincoats were necessities. Consequently, there is not much to report…

Youngster James Rossiter was the first victim of the weather. The Force India development driver was set to complete his first FP1 session this morning, yet due to the circumstances, the team decided that there was no value in putting the inexperienced youngster in Adrian Sutil’s car. “The wet track means that, unfortunately, James Rossiter won’t get the previously announced FP1 run,” Force India Tweeted. “His work was dependent on dry conditions. The team will evaluate other future opportunities for James to drive the VJM06, in conditions that will be more representative for the sim,”

Only 11 drivers eventually posted lap times, as team’s feared sustaining damage to vital parts in conditions which would not yield valuable data. Consequently, 75 minutes past before Daniel Ricciardo became the first driver to set a time. His lap displayed how treacherous the circuit was, especially on the newer sections between Vale and the Wellington Straight, due to the non-porous surface. Charles Pic was caught out in the final five minutes by the standing water at Club Corner. The Caterham driver skidded into the barriers, fortunately escaping with no damage to the corners. The team had the foresight to fit the old front wing to the car in the difficult conditions, as oppose to the development front wing. Esteban Gutierrez ended the session with a frightening snap of oversteer at turn one. The Mexican slipped off the circuit, narrowly avoiding the barrier on his excursion and evading damage.
Ricciardo managed to improve his time late on, to topple Lewis Hamilton from the top of the timesheet. With dry conditions predicted on Saturday and Sunday hopefully the raincoats can be swapped for suncream as the weekend progresses. 
FP1 Timesheet
1 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:54.249s 10 laps
2 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:55.033s + 0.784s 7
3 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:55.354s + 1.105s 7
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:55.458s + 1.209s 5
5 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:55.825s + 1.576s 9
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:56.361s + 2.112s 7
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:57.891s +3.642s 4
8 Giedo van der Garde Caterha 1:58.859s + 4.610s 6
9 Max Chilton Marussia 1:59.719s + 5.470s 7
10 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:59.876s + 5.627s 8
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:06.534s + 12.285 6
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time 3
13 Paul di Resta Force India no time 4
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus no time 1
15 Jenson Button McLaren no time 1
16 Adrian Sutil Force India no time 4
17 Fernando Alonso Ferrari no time 4
18 Mark Webber Red Bull no time 1
19 Sergio Perez McLaren no time 1
20 Charles Pic Caterham no time 3
21 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull no time 4
22 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus no time 0      

FP2

After the FP1 session was curtailed by rain in the morning, team’s were anxious to make up for the lost mileage. Consequently, the mentality heading into the second session was to quickly clear any remaining water off of the circuit and switch to the slick tyres as soon as possible. As a result, FP2 schedules followed the standard pattern, with a flurry of low fuel runs towards the middle shaping the final timesheet. It was Nico Rosberg who set the benchmark time of the day to take P1 on the timesheet, edging out the Red Bull pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. However, Paul Di Resta was the pleasant surprise of the session, as the Scot recorded solid long and short run pace, finishing a positive P4.
Just 10 minutes into the session, drivers began switching to slick tyres, yet times were not representative initially as the track still featured damp patches. Felipe Massa’s run of bad form continued, as the Brazilian lost the rear of the car on the exit of Stowe corner after running across an isolated puddle. While the impact was insignificant compared to his most recent accidents, it broke the right front suspension, meaning that he was sidelined for the rest of the session. While Fernando Alonso continued to schedule, Felipe’s incident will hamper the team’s performance across the weekend, as the amount of data collected in dry conditions will be significantly less than the competition.
Toro Rosso are a team who have greatly improved their package in their latest set of upgrades and both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne recorded impressive times throughout the session. It is no secret that the STR8 is a well balanced car and it appears to be suited to the Silverstone circuit characteristics. Undoubtedly contributing to the impressive display will be the dream of taking the Red Bull seat, as both Ricciardo and Vergne realize that this is when their form counts. Both can be proud of their performances in FP2, which has been perfect preparation for the weekend ahead. In a session where mileage was essential, JEV clocked the most laps of anyone, with 48. 
Meanwhile, Force India are another team which could disrupt the usual pecking order this weekend. On the circuit adjacent to their modest factory, the team will be looking to extend their lead over McLaren in the constructors this weekend and Paul Di Resta could well be Britain’s best chance of a podium finish on Sunday. With a strong qualifying performance, Di Resta and Sutil will feel confident that their tyre longevity will aid their race strategy and compliment their pace.
An exciting FP2 session has undoubtedly intrigued fans, who now wait patiently for tomorrow’s final practice session where more questions may be answered ahead of qualifying. Will Vettel take a second consecutive pole, or will Mercedes add another to their collection.
FP2 Timesheet
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.248s 33 laps
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:32.547s + 0.299s 26
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:32.680s + 0.432s 31
4 Paul di Resta Force India 1:32.832s + 0.584s 34
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.911s + 0.663s 28
6 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:33.171s + 0.923s 34
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.290s + 1.042s 38
8 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:33.313s + 1.065s 34
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:33.322s + 1.074s 38
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:33.494s + 1.246s 32
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:33.740s + 1.492s 29
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:33.896s + 1.648s 36
13 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m34.120s + 1.872s 30
14 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:34.130s + 1.882s 29
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:34.998s + 2.750s 32
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:35.070s + 2.822s 29
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:35.127s + 2.879s 35
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:35.802s + 3.554s 27
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:35.984s + 3.736s 32
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:36.079s + 3.831s 35
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:37.329s + 5.081s 33
22 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m43.466s + 11.218s 7       
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