2015 British Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

With Mercedes dominance predicted on a circuit which should favour the characteristics of the W06, the man most likely to spoil Lewis Hamilton’s home-coming is his teammate Nico Rosberg. This race marks the latest chapter in their duel and on the basis of today, Nico has the upper-hand. Albeit a challenging day for Rosberg, including a truncated FP1 due to a hydraulic leak, the German appears far more comfortable in the car than Hamilton, who struggled to just fourth on the timesheet in FP2, while posting long run times well down on his championship rival. By his own admission, Lewis needs “a lot more pace,” if he is to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

Battle For Top Honours

As has become one of the major talking points of Friday’s action in 2015, the battle at the front between Hamilton and Rosberg, with a dash of Ferrari thrown into the mix, was a pre-eminent factor today. The top four in the more representative FP2 was particularly intriguing, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel splitting the Mercedes.

This largely transpired due to Hamilton’s struggles. Complaints on the radio contributed to a picture which was evident from simply watching the Briton on track and on the timesheet. Running wide through Brooklands was merely a scratch on the surface of struggles which saw him run at a pace a full second down on his teammate. It is important to note that Nico was running with substantial understeer today – a balance which the German can cope with, while Hamilton favours oversteer. It is likely that he will reevaluate with the engineers tonight, and unquestionably, will be stronger tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s pace was promising today, with both Raikkonen and Vettel posting excellent short and long run pace. Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has called for the team to end unrepresentative Friday’s which have seen Ferrari flatter to deceive of late. If the Scuderia were running with a similar weight to Mercedes today, then this British Grand Prix could be a contest between silver and red. However, the form guide suggests that Mercedes have not yet shown their hand.

Resurgent Red Bull?

After weeks of trials and tribulations, Red Bull enjoyed a far more promising day. Their well documented irritation with the lack of performance provided by their Renault powertrain has been coupled with claims that the RB11 is a strong chassis. With Silverstone’s high speed corners, where downforce and chassis balance is critical, this assertion will be tested and so far, the assertion is being proven correct. It is, of course, still early days.

Red Bull’s fifth and sixth on the FP2 timesheet could have been a bi-product of the run programmes of their chief rivals. Williams famously keep mileage at a premium on a Friday and despite having Susie Wolff in the car this morning, they did not stray from this precedent. Meanwhile, both Lotus and Force India should have some speed in reserve and as such, Red Bull could be under siege later this weekend.

Warming Up

While the UK is currently in the clutches of an anti-cyclone, (or heatwave to all those who didn’t do GCSE Geography), tyre warm-up could be a factor in qualifying. Verstappen’s aggressive weaving on an out-lap in FP1 set the tone for laps on the hard compound tyre.

The most intriguing element of the story is the disparity between Mercedes and Ferrari. After his one and only qualifying simulation lap in FP2, Hamilton boxed, as his medium compound tyres did not have another lap in them. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen managed to improve on his personal best on his second flying lap. Extrapolating this data, it could be that Ferrari will have better tyre durability this weekend, therefore making the one stop more effectively than the Mercedes duo.

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