FP1: Late charge puts Gasly and Red Bull on top at Silverstone
Pierre Gasly’s last lap put Red Bull ahead of Mercedes in Friday’s opening practice session for the British Grand Prix, as drivers got to grips with the newly-laid Silverstone tarmac and a smattering of light rain dotted the surface.
Valtteri Bottas was the man to beat in the closing stages, the Mercedes driver setting a fastest time of 1m 27.629s on soft tyres – until Red Bull’s late runs propelled their pair up the standings. Gasly had been 0.086s behind Bottas, but with his last lap he ended 0.456s ahead – his time of 1m 27.173 on soft tyres putting him in the lead.
Bottas, who has never qualified higher than fourth here, was fastest on mediums early in the session and improved on the softs, never looking under threat until Gasly struck. Red Bull counterpart Max Verstappen ended third, 0.836s off the pace and a tenth ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes.
READ MORE: Austria flattered Red Bull and Ferrari, says Hamilton, as he predicts better Silverstone performance
The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were off the pace, Leclerc 1.080s off Gasly and his team mate 0.051s behind, as they occupied fifth and sixth respectively. Leclerc spun at Turn 4 early on, but he wasn’t the only one to have an off.
FORMULA 1 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2019
Great Britain 2019
Practice 1 results
|1 Pierre Gasly GAS Red Bull Racing||1:27.173|
|2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.456s|
|3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.836s|
|4 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.949s|
|5 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+1.080s|
Rain did strike with just under 30 minutes of the session remaining, but it didn’t stay for long and the field headed out for their race runs soon enough.
Drivers had started the session in cautious fashion, aware that the new Silverstone surface may prove slippery to start with, but the first caution was caused by a bizarre incident that took place in the pit lane 20 minutes in when Romain Grosjean spun his Haas and hit the right-hand wall of the pit exit, losing his front wing in the process.
WATCH: Grosjean loses front wing in bizarre pit-exit spin
Kimi Raikkonen brought out the only red flag of the session, his Alfa Romeo stopping with an apparent engine issue on the Wellington Straight with 50 minutes left, and he ended the session ahead of Grosjean, in 18th.
Renault, disappointed from an Austrian Grand Prix in which they failed to score points, bounced back with eighth-place Nico Hulkenberg setting a time of 1m 29.031s to lead team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Even though he spun at Turn 6, Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon filed in ninth, just behind Ricciardo, his team mate Daniil Kvyat ending up 13th.
Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 for McLaren, 1.989s off the leading time. His team mate Lando Norris struggled more with the surface as he spun at the final corner just before Leclerc’s off, but ended narrowly off Sainz in 11th.
The Racing Points were split by Kvyat, Sergio Perez in 12th and Stroll in 14th, with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi half a second behind in 15th.
Kubica rounded out the standings, 4.948s off the pace as Williams experimented with intermediate tyres at the end of the session. Team mate George Russell was nearly 1.5s quicker, ending up ahead of retiree Raikkonen in 17th.