FP1: Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Britain
Lewis Hamilton arrived at Silverstone looking to put a torrid weekend in Austria for him and his Mercedes team behind him. And in front of his home fans, the local favourite got his British Grand Prix weekend off to the best possible start by going top in Friday's first practice session.
The British driver – a five-time winner of his home event – and his Silver Arrows team mate Valtteri Bottas looked comfortable at the top of the timesheets, with Hamilton lapping the Silverstone track over half a second faster than his nearest non-Mercedes rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Bottas, meanwhile, was enjoying the benefits of a new Mercedes power unit in his W09 car, with the team having changed it as a precautionary measure following his retirement from the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend.
Behind Vettel, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fifth, although the session wasn’t without incident for the Finn, as he spun his SF71H coming through Brooklands. He rejoined the track without damage, though, and finished ahead of the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The Dutchman ended FP1 parked on the start-finish straight, however, with a suspected gearbox issue.
The gulf between the top three teams and the midfield appeared to be pronounced at Silverstone, with Force India and Haas looking to be set for a big fight over the next couple of days to claim that prized ‘best of the rest’ tag.
As of FP1, it was Haas who held the upper hand, although both drivers suffered issues during FP1. Kevin Magnussen, who wound up P14, was seen to spar with Fernando Alonso on track, with both drivers called to appear in front of the stewards – although it was eventually decided that no further action was required. Meanwhile, after a storming weekend in Austria for Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman made an error at Turn 1 with half an hour remaining, losing the rear end of his VF-18 and ending up in the barriers, after his DRS appeared to accidentally stay open. He still managed to be the fastest of the midfield though, winding up seventh.
The two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were P8 and P9, ahead of the Williams of Lance Stroll, who would have been encouraged to go 10th quickest.
The Sauber of Marcus Ericsson was 11th, leading Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and his own team mate Charles Leclerc. After Magnussen, Carlos Sainz ended up down in P15, while he and his P17 Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg will be looking to ramp up the speed as the weekend goes on.
On their first weekend following Eric Boullier’s departure, it seemed as though there were still issues at McLaren, as Stoffel Vandoorne ended up P16 and Fernando Alonso was P19. The second Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley was 18th, with the New Zealander complaining of vibrations during the session, while last place went to Sergey Sirotkin, with the Russian spinning off at one point at Club corner.