Sebastian Vettel headed a close-fought practice session between the top two teams in constructors’ championship, Mercedes and Ferrari.
With prancing horse making a habit of sandbagging on Fridays in 2018, Vettel finished at the front of an FP2 session for the first time this season, leading Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by less than two tenths of a second.
Track temperatures were over 50 degrees Celsius at Silverstone, and with Ferrari seemingly handling the higher temperatures better in Austria, this could be the factor that helps them challenge Mercedes this weekend.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen – who had a spin at Luffield in FP1 – completed the all-red-and-silver top four, whilst Red Bull appear unable to provide an answer to their pace, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing in fifth.
The second Red Bull of Max Verstappen missed the majority of FP2 after crashing out in the first twenty minutes, leaving Red Bull one car short for the important data-gathering.
On the longer runs, both Mercedes and Ferrari were frequently setting times in the 1:33s, whilst the sole Red Bull of Ricciardo rarely went quicker than a 1:34.
McLaren, looking for a strong weekend to move on from a turbulent midweek, were a surprise sixth fastest with Fernando Alonso, narrowly edging ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in a close midfield contest.
The two Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth, whilst Sauber’s Charles Leclerc completed the top ten.
Drivers tested by third DRS zone
One of the main talking points in the build-up to this weekend was the inclusion of a third DRS zone or, more specifically, the location of the third DRS zone.
Added to the two zones already situated between turns five and six and between turns fourteen and fifteen, the third zone has been added on the start-finish straight and runs through turns one and two.
This prompted debate about which cars would be able to negotiate the fast right-handed turn one. Many of the laps completed involved drivers temporarily closing the DRS through turn one, then reopening it for the remainder of the zone.
Romain Grosjean was the first driver to make a big error at turn one; the Haas driver failed to close the DRS on his car, and he lost control of the rear of his car through turn one and crashed into the barrier.
He blamed the bumpy relaid track surface for missing the button, but the crash meant he required a chassis change, which ruled him out of free practice two.
Naturally, Verstappen was the first to attempt turn one with the DRS wide open, but his FP2 crash occurred at a different point on the circuit.
Following an FP1 session which ended with the Dutchman pulling over with technical troubles, Verstappen’s second free practice session ended after 20 minutes when he crashed his Red Bull on the exit of Luffield.
Running slightly wide on the exit, the rear of the car stepped out and an over-correction sent him into the barrier on the outside of the corner, damaging the right-hand side of the car, particularly on the rear. The red flags were deployed to allow the Red Bull to be recovered.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Free Practice
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.552s – 36
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.739s 0.187s 32
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m27.909s 0.357s 30
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.045s 0.493s 34
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m28.408s 0.856s 31
6 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m29.306s 1.754s 31
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.354s 1.802s 35
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m29.467s 1.915s 33
9 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m29.522s 1.970s 32
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m29.557s 2.005s 30
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m29.563s 2.011s 36
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m29.617s 2.065s 33
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m29.831s 2.279s 16
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.046s 2.494s 32
15 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m30.069s 2.517s 34
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m30.103s 2.551s 36
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m30.121s 2.569s 31
18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m30.404s 2.852s 36
19 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault No time
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari No time
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images
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