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Formula 1 7

British Grand Prix – day two

There is something reassuring about the sight of human litter gravitating towards bacon bap merchants at 6.15am – a fragment of landscape that’s very Silverstone. The catering areas are a little more organised than once they were, however. Laps of the track’s perimeter used to be an adventure at Grand Prix time, with a ramshackle collection of huts and stalls selling everything from stickers to overpriced ice creams via VHS tapes. You were never sure quite what you might find, but the individual long since surrendered to the homogenised. Even burger stalls now look mostly the same.

f1  British Grand Prix   day two

There will be a similarly uniform appearance at the front of the grid tomorrow, with Mercedes-Benz and Red Bull occupying the first and second rows respectively. Lewis Hamilton annexed pole for the second time at his home race, but this was done on merit with a stellar lap 0.352sec quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg’s best. He last took a Silverstone pole back in 2007, but that was a trompe l’oeil occasioned by a deceptively light fuel load at a time when such variables remained influential.

The Englishman had been unhappy with his car’s balance during free practice, but some late set-up tweaks rescued his afternoon. “The car was great,” he said. “It has been hard fine-tuning it to feel comfortable, but the changes we made before qualifying helped. It’s still not perfect, though. Tomorrow is another matter and our Sunday performances are not quite as strong right now, so it’s going to be tough to keep Seb [Vettel] behind, but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. For the first time since 2008, I feel I have a car that allows me to compete here at Silverstone.”

Rosberg admitted he could do little about his sidekick’s pace. “It’s usually a close battle between us,” he said, “but it wasn’t today. That was a great lap by Lewis.”

Hamilton’s former team-mate Jenson Button was only 11th – but happy that McLaren is moving in the right direction. “Our car isn’t quick,” he said, “but it’s better than expected. I was happier during qualifying that I’d previously been this weekend and it was probably best not to make it into Q3. That would have left me 10th, so at least I’ll now be starting on the cleaner side of the track.”

f1  British Grand Prix   day two

Although the Mercedes drivers had a couple of tenths in hand, championship leader Vettel remains favourite to give Red Bull a second straight Silverstone victory. “We’re not giving anything away to the Mercedes guys on purpose,” he said, “but they’re bloody quick on Saturday afternoons. I think third was our maximum today, but who knows what will happen tomorrow? We’re getting better, but so are they.” He qualified just 0.009sec ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, who is chasing a third British GP win after his successes in 2010 and 2012.

Paul di Resta was due to start fifth in Force India’s home race – and promptly dug into his book of 1970s football clichés: he was “over the moon”, apparently. His car was later found to be slightly underweight, however, a matter that has been referred to the stewards at the time of writing. If confirmed, the Scot is likely to be drummed to the back of the grid.

Daniel Ricciardo was an impressive sixth for Toro Rosso: the Australian has been confirmed as a possible candidate for the Red Bull seat Webber will vacate at the season’s end and underlined his credentials with a strong run. Team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne – one of his rivals for the job, alongside Kimi Räikkönen – was back in 13th.

Adrian Sutil (Force India) lines up seventh, ahead of Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Räikkönen, with Fernando Alonso 10th. Pirelli has brought hard and medium compounds to Silverstone – and they tend to works less effectively on the Lotus and Ferrari chassis, which are traditionally gentler on tyres than their closest rivals. That said, the same rubber was used during the Spanish GP: like Silverstone, Barcelona is a track that favours aerodynamic efficiency and on that occasion Alonso qualified third.

f1  British Grand Prix   day two

“Perhaps our new parts are not working as well as we’d expected,” the Spaniard said. “A few weeks ago, when we were a couple of tenths away from our rivals, it would have been hard to imagine that we’d now be a full second adrift. The car was good at the start of the year, but now we’re fighting just to make Q3. Things seem to be getting worse and worse.”

Add your comments

7 comments on British Grand Prix – day two

  1. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 29 June 2013 17:53

    This seems a turning point.

    Alonso didn’t Make Hay Whilst the Sun was Shining – at a time when the Ferrari was the best race-day package capable of winning GPs (and while Red Bull / Mercedes were trying to figure out their tyre deg on Sundays.)

    Most pundits felt Alonso should have been leading the title after Spain if not for errors.

    During that time, Vettel extracted a couple of wins and 4ths here and there.

    Alonso’s drive at Monaco was a howler and, then, he made a mistake in Canada Q3 while Vettel produced perfection, leaving 4 cars between the two title contenders on the Montreal grid. That 4 car buffer was the difference between Vettel winning the GP and Alonso not winning, the race pace between their cars being similar.

    Fast forward 2 weeks and 6 days later and it looks like Alonso will be regretting that he wasn’t able to emulate what Vettel was able to do when the RB9s were on the back foot.

    It’s early days, of course, as the points are handed out on Sunday but it’s looking like Vettel just needs to drive a normal race to ensure he comes away with some more useful points.

    A Mercedes victory in the British GP may prevent Vettel from taking maximum points…but two strong Mercedes cars/drivers will make it more difficult for Ferrari to win a Championship in 2013 if this continues through the summer.

    Lastly, I don’t think Massa’s doing the job and Ferrari need to alter their driver policy. The current set up – suited to Alonso’s wishes – clearly isn’t working.

  2. Listerine, 29 June 2013 18:17

    Congratulations to Lewis on a tremendous pole. Using his undoubtedly on-song hotshoe of a team-mate as the traditional yardstick, that must have been some lap.
    If, however, it’s the Red Bulls that prove to have the race pace once again tomorrow, then with all respect to Sebastian, I really hope Mark can add a third and final chapter to the happy F1 story he has already written at his adopted home track. I suspect it will be one of Silverstone’s more emotional days if that happens, for the fans recognise what the circuit means to him and love him all the more for it. But I guess a Lewis win wouldn’t exactly be too badly received by them either!
    Liked your observations on PdR’s footballing lingo, Simon. I hope he won’t be saying he’s sick as a parrot after the stewards pronounce, but it doesn’t look hopeful. Ah well, it’s a game of two days.
    Yes, I fondly remember the distinctly un-FOM type of commerce which once prevailed at the British GP. Somewhere I still have a Thompson Twins cassette which I bought as I was leaving the ’84 race at Brands Hatch. It was only on the coach that I realised it was a pirated copy, but I think it only cost me a quid, as I recall, and it always gives me happy memories of Niki, Delboy (the driver, not the spiv stallholder, although come to think of it….) and the Brands sunshine.

  3. Bill, 29 June 2013 18:24

    “Maybe the new parts that are coming are not as expected, most of them are not working, so we are losing a little bit of pace compared to the top teams.” Alonso.

    So, a reorganised design department, all work being done in the Toyota windtunnel, and still Ferrari produces parts, most of wich arent working? Whats next Domenicali? Another reorganisation? Your cars are qualifying behind Torro Rosso and Force India’s, their combined anual budget not even covering Ferrari’s.

    I do not agree with Simon that Hamilton has earned that pole on merit – he did it in a car with an unfair advantage to other teams – but he did beat his teammate considerably and it was an amazing lap. A job well done.

    Some mentions on Ricciardo and Sutil, as well as Paul DiResta. They all oughta be considered to step into that ongoing catastrophe called Massa, and perhaps the Webber seat.

  4. John Saviano, 29 June 2013 22:14

    Good job, Lewis. At minimum, we were saved SV showing his index finger to the cameras yet again. Let’s see what happens on Sunday. Sad to see Ferrari once again hasn’t given FA a car he can consistently win with. Interesting how both McLaren and to a lesser extent Ferrari are doing a bit of wandering and wondering.

  5. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 30 June 2013 00:22

    I don’t want to make excuses for Ferrari but their current car is much better when the temperatures are warmer and the track more rubbered-in.

    In addition, Ferrari – and, especially, Lotus – have lost out due to Pirelli nominating harder tyres as a result of the pounding they got by the specialist press and the vociferous blogging fan bases in forums out there following the slower speed processions and tip-toeing in Spain and Monaco.

    It’s supposed to be sunnier and warmer for the Grand Prix and Ferrari have very good race pace, as shown in Canada. I, as a result, expect Alonso to move forward as the track lays down more rubber. I think the car is good enough for a possible podium from ninth on the starting grid.

    Having said that, Pirelli’s nominations for Silverstone mean Ferrari and Lotus will have lost an edge their cars had/have over the likes of Mercedes and RBR in the tyre management department.

    Alonso will be hoping the two Mercedes prevent Vettel from scoring big while he finishes not far behind in order to prevent a big bleed in the Championship.

    It should be an interesting race with the winner a question mark – a far cry from Le Mans where everyone knew Audi would win as far back as 12 months earlier.

    Lastly, great lap from Hamilton. As I said after Monaco, he just needed to get the brakes and the steering to his liking and he needed to make progress on adapting to a new car on these Pirellis. It was just a matter of time before he got to terms with Rosberg.

  6. Martin01, 30 June 2013 02:07

    Lewis had an unfair advantage as one commentator here suggests!
    If its Mercedes’ Pirelli tyre testing ‘advantage’ you mean try telling that to Rosberg. Its not exactly surprising Mercedes is on pole, they’ve been doing that all season. Oh the joys of vitriol. So enlightening! NOT!!!

  7. Bill, 30 June 2013 11:21

    Regarding Ferrari: I think Montezemolo must intervene. The team has been reorganised since 2009, shuffle after shuffle of staff. Thats 4 years or about 60 gps. Thats 4 annual 300 milion udgets down the drain.

    I can understand if Alonso calls it a day at Maranello now that the Red Bull seat is available. I think the biggest fail of Domenicali was his failure to lure and sign Newey 3 years ago. Dont tell me he didnt want to move to Italy, because anybody can be bought for a price. If they had offered 3 times the amount he earns at Red Bull im sure he wouldnt have said no.

    Similar is the situation with james Allison now. Its bafling Ferrari has not managed probably the next big thing next to Newey already, and it looks like he will join McLaren soon.

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