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Insight: Friday in Silverstone – F1 cars flat out on the rollercoaster ride
Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Jul 2017   |  11:47 pm GMT  |  24 comments

It’s been a while since we have seen cornering speeds at Silverstone like the ones we saw today. The F1 drivers had been looking forward to running these 2017 high downforce cars on this track, with its unique combination of medium and high speed corners and they were not disappointed.

And nor was anyone else who saw them; the cars look scintillating through the high speed corners like Copse, Maggots, Becketts and Stowe, with plenty of movement and very fast change of direction.

Silverstone 2017

“I’m impressed by the new cars on this track with its high-speed corners – they’re so much quicker than before,” said the pace setter Valtteri Bottas. “I’m definitely enjoying it and had a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. You feel more G in the corners and there’s a greater effect on your body, quite a big step up from last year.”

Standing out on track at Becketts the Mercedes was certainly carrying a lot of speed, “The track is absolutely incredible with these new cars,” said Lewis Hamilton. “It was already one of the very best circuits in the world, but with this car and the speed we are able to carry through the corners, it’s just phenomenal.

“It’s like the greatest rollercoaster ride ever.”

Bottas will take a gearbox penalty that will move him back five places on the grid from where he qualifies, as Hamilton had to do in Austria. If Ferrari steps up in qualifying and is racing at the front with Hamilton, as expected, this leaves the three time champion in a tricky position if he doesn’t manage to find a pace advantage on Sunday. The Ferraris can do a pincer move on him strategy wise, with one trying the undercut and the other the overcut, as we have seen several times this season, for example with Red Bull in Monaco. Bottas will have to make another of his lightning fast starts and get ahead as quickly as possible to help out.

Red Bull was half a second off again today, but Daniel Ricciardo’s analysis is that Ferrari is catchable. Ricciardo was one of several drivers who had a moment with the gusty winds, but he believes Red Bull can get close to Ferrari this weekend.

“Mercedes are very fast but I think if we get everything right we can be challenging Ferrari tomorrow,” he said. In Austria it looked like Mercedes had an edge on Friday but on Saturday and Sunday Vettel was close.”

In practice the leading cars formed up in performance order with the two Mercedes ahead of the two Ferraris and the two Red Bulls, with Nico Hulkenberg doing a stunning lap to go 7th ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa. Renault has a new floor this weekend, the start of a new development concept, according to team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Nico Hulkenberg

He may repeat that in qualifying, especially if it is damp as forecast, but still seems to struggle in the races with the tyres to repeat his grid slot at the end of the race. Renault’s race pace was a little behind the other midfield teams again today.

In the nine races so far Hulkenberg has moved backwards three times, finished where he started twice and moved forward only twice. He has retired from two. That contrasts with his form with Force India, where he moved forwards in roughly 50% of the races and backwards in around 30%.

The Mercedes has the edge on race pace on the supersoft tyres, ahead of the Ferrari and the Red Bull. Degradation is quite high by recent standards, especially for Ricciardo, while Raikkonen’s is less, as usual. Verstappen has the edge on Ricciardo on both the soft and supersoft pace.

Ferrari did good supersoft and soft comparison inverting tyres across drivers on their long runs. The soft looks very good – strong performance and is likely to be the main race tyre.

Jonathan Neale

Off track there was some interesting discussion in the team bosses’ press conference with Jonathan Neale of McLaren being quite open about the process ahead with Honda and how difficult the conversations are around that.

There is a lot of talk about the possible breakdown of the Sauber-Honda relationship before it has even started. The change of management there from Monisha Kaltenborn has triggered some movement, with sources suggesting that it is from Sauber’s side that the desire to change terms is coming, rather than from Honda’s side.

New team boss Fred Vasseur has got straight into the Honda contract and one wonders whether he might be looking instead at a deal with Mercedes which would achieve two objectives. For Sauber it would give them a world championship level engine, for Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, it would give him a buffer as he’s trying to resist supplying McLaren with engines if they split with Honda.

There is widespread belief that the senior figures at Mercedes’ parent company Daimler have a strong feeling with McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh and would like to help them out, but only once Honda is out of the picture. If a deal is struck with Sauber before that then FIA regulations would make it hard for them to supply another team and McLaren would have to turn to Ferrari or Renault.

What do you think of Silverstone Day 1? Leave your comment in the section below

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The cars looked spectacular in P1 and P2, on a pristine and yes somewhat rough surface, yet glorious track….simply awesome, it just flows…poetry in motion.

Silverstone is the British GP and vice versa no question.

Chomping for the race!


James, we know that Seb has taken the new ICE whereas Kimi has the the new MGUH and the TC as well, any insight on additional performance gains for Kimi due to those. Would Seb have an incentive to take a 10 place grid penalty and take on new Turbo?
Also, was surprised to read Merc saying not much difference from engine.
Interesting that Ricci thinks he can fight Ferrari – I don’t see that really.


If he needs to take a penalty soon then Spa would be the likely place. Budapest it’s impossible to pass, while Ferrari wouldn’t do it at Monza.


Any word about the 2nd Formula 1 Power Unit Working Group meeting ?
Volkswagen, Aston Martin, Cosworth, Zytek and Magneti Marelli were present.

The stars are aligned.
Merc first entered F1 through Sauber, after a successful spell at FiA endurance championship.
Vasseur was the head of the legendary ASM-Mercedes F3 team.
There is a strong financial backing from the Swedish Tetrapack group owner.
Sounds promising.

Claire Williams declared interest in FAlonso.
If Merc doesn’t go to FAlonso, then…
But FAlonso should stay free for 2019, when SEB goes Merc and MAX goes Ferrari.


I love the fact that finally F1 cars are faster than what they were a decade ago. Other than that, I’m personally not in slightly interested about how drivers’ neck feel around the corner.

JA’s report about Ricciardo’s comment about catching Ferrari is telling for the championship. It just confirms everything I have been saying here all along, the Mercs are the fastest cars on the grid. Only because Vettel ahead, doesn’t mean he has the best car. Just about every practice and qualifying session proves this. It would’ve been better for the championship if Ricciardo said that the Mercs are catchable rather than Ferrari. It means that the Ferrari team is well behind RBR and Mercedes in development race. Typical British weather might have a big say this weekend.


A bit of rain would be nice…Max is long overdue for a good showing, an epic battle with Lewis on a damp, patchy track, well isn’t that what we have all been waiting patiently for?


Ricciardo said the same in Austria, but he wasn’t going to pass Vettel.

After FP3 Dan was 1.5s behind Vettel. Yeah, I think Dan was just having a lark. Said more in hope than anything.


Prediction for the snorefest procession on sunday lew lew from vet from Bot

Tornillo Amarillo

McLaren-Ferrari plus Alonso-Vandoorne could be a competitive package!


James, it seem from your article that Honda could be out of F1. This is not what Liberty want. What is your gut feeling on the lift of Honda in F1 next year?


They have to stay mate….engine manufacturers are the cornerstone of F1, it’s the DNA of the sport. There are many top teams with proven pedigree that are currently operating as mere fledglings. (Sauber inclusive).


I very much hope they do not leave. They do not seem to want to at the moment.

But there is a lot riding on the major engine step that is due in the Autumn.


Seems to me that a “major engine step” won’t be enough.

If they haven’t been able to make it reliable by now, they never will. The whole concept from design to production must be at fault.

With all their resources devoted to it and the incentive of public embarrassment, they should have produced a race-ready power unit after three years of trying.

It looks very much like a whole new design is required. If that’s the case, they will really struggle to make McLaren competitive before the end of the season.

The question is, do McLaren and Alonso wait around in the hope it happens ? No matter how much money Honda are bringing to the team, they must be losing more by running at the back of the field.

Then there is the damage to the reputation of both parties.


“Red Bull was half a second off again today, but Daniel Ricciardo’s analysis is that Ferrari is catchable.” I don’t doubt they are ‘catchable’ but catching and passing are two different things.


Now Ricciardo has a gearbox penalty, and Ferrari has turned up the engine, so not sure they’ll be catching. Though rain on Sunday would help Dan & Max.


Does Bottas really have a gearbox problem or is this one of Toto’s little games to square up for Lewis’ disaster in Austria? Maybe Hamilton’s little sook mid-week has paid off with a tit-for-tat 5 place grid penalty for Bottas to even things up between them.


re axel, You will be better of on the judges13 site with that comment, your find the posters more to your liking,,


@ Axel….Funny that you should say that. I have been thinking exactly the same. Bottas has closed to within 15 points and is posing a real threat to Hamilton. It seems just too coincidental to me. I also feel as though something similar is occurring within Red Bull. Verstappern has five DNF’s and now mysteriously Ricci gets a penalty from the team? Both these drivers appear to be a threat to the chosen ones within their own teams. I am not normally a conspiracy theorist however it just looks a bit ‘contrived’ and too easy to pull off given the previous history.


Are you for real?! Lewis goes well here … why wouldn’t Wolff want a 1-2 if he could get it?

Hamilton makes people say nutty things.

Speedy Gonzales

I think day 1 at Silverstone can best be summed up by ‘Chibby’, the French bulldog:


The McLaren situation just gets worse and worse, with another start from the back of the grid or pitlane for Alonso.

Only last week I was thinking that of all the options, sticking with Honda was the most likely but with McLaren sinking even further into the doldrums all bets must surely now be off ?


He took the penalty now to avoid it for Hungary, which is one they might do well at.


We’ve had big controversies in both Spielberg and Baku. Can Silverstone pass without incident?
I wouldn’t bet against it


So you’re saying you expect it to pass without incident? That’s what your last sentence implies.

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