Valtteri Bottas was a tenth faster than his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in first practice for the Anniversary Grand Prix. The Finn set his fastest time on the soft tyre putting him ahead of the Englishman, as the team continued to dominate the Silverstone circuit.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended the session seven tenths behind the Mercedes however spent most of the time in the garage. Mercedes lead the way with many teams trying to understand the step softer tyres following the issues last weekend.
Bottas appeared to bounce back strongly outpacing Hamilton after losing out in Sunday’s race because of a puncher to go a tenth faster than his teammate as he seeks to recover ground in the constructors.
Most of the session, however, saw the teams focus on understanding the tyres following last weekends tyre failures as well as the step softer tyres Pirelli have brought for this weekend. Verstappen also was focused on aero tests for much of and didn’t post time at all until over an hour into the session. When he did, he encouragingly went straight up to third.
Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest going seven-tenths off the pace, he still standing in for Sergio Perez who is yet to return a negative test for Coronavirus. The Racing Point team has also deducted fifteen constructors points and given a €400,000 fine after being found guilty of copying the brake ducts of the Mercedes.
They will be allowed to run the illegal design for the rest of the season, because the FIA ruled under the circumstances it would be difficult to design new brake ducts having already got the existing knowledge. But will need to design new ones for 2021.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fifth fastest going eight tenths off the pace while teammate Sebastian Vettel continued to struggle in seventh. The manufacturer has continued with low-downforce set-up that enabled them to put in a surprisingly competitive performance last weekend.
The second Red Bull of Alex Albon was sixth fastest, two tenths faster than Vettel. While Lance Stroll was eighth, going almost a second slower than his teammate Hulkenberg. Daniil Kvyat also had a decent session going ninth fastest while Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten, splitting the Alpha Tauri’s with Pierre Gasly eleventh.
McLaren had a low-key session, presumably focusing on aero developments, with Lando Norris only twelfth fastest a second and eight tenths off the pace. While teammate Carlos Sainz was fourteenth fastest almost three-hundredths behind, with the Haas of Romain Grosjean splitting them.
Williams can also take positives from the session with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi fifteenth and sixteenth. Second practice should give a better understanding of where teams are as the long runs become clear with the tyres expecting to be the focus.