Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on track during the two Friday practice sessions for the British Grand Prix, on a day which was dominated by wet weather at Silverstone.
The 2008 winner completed just 14 laps today, but was 3rd-quickest in the morning practice session, and then topped the timesheets this afternoon.
There was little else for the fans to celebrate though, not only did they have to struggle through horrendous traffic to make it to the track, but when they were sitting in the grandstands they saw little F1 action.
Bruno Senna did attempt to liven things up though, with a heavy crash at Becketts during FP2, and Fernando Alonso managed to destroy the front wing of his Ferrari in the closing minutes of running this afternoon.
“There were so many [fans] out there today,” said Hamilton, paying tribute to those who made it to the track to see very little F1 action. “I can't remember seeing so many people at a racetrack on a Friday before – it was incredible. British Formula 1 fans are the best in the world!
“I would like to have gone out and done even more laps – but we simply didn't have enough tyres to do that. Perhaps that's something we can look at for the future.
“There was a lot of standing water out there, and tons of aquaplaning. That's to be expected when there's heavy rain, of course, but I have to say that there doesn't seem to be that much drainage around the circuit. You're aquaplaning almost all the time, to be honest, so you need to be very in tune with your senses or you're very likely to lose control.
Hamilton’s team-mate, fellow Brit Jenson Button, finished the day sixth on the timesheets. Paul di Resta, the third Brit on the grid this season, finished P13.
Romain Grosjean also decided to save wet weather tyres today, and the Frenchman failed to set a time in the afternoon session. However, he did top the timesheets in the morning, highlighting the threat that Lotus could present to the top teams on Sunday.
“It wasn't the busiest day ever due to the weather conditions but still FP1 went well,” said Grosjean. “The car looks to be good and consistent. We tested a few new aero parts which have worked pretty well. I also learnt that the old part of the circuit has a bit more grip than the new part.
“I would have liked to have more track time [in the afternoon] but due to the regulations on tyres we didn't want to use up all our wet tyre allocation as more rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday. We looked at putting inters on but it wasn't dry enough so we couldn't really do many laps this afternoon.”
Kamui Kobayashi was the most industrious (or perhaps brave) driver today – he completed more laps than anyone else in both practice sessions, and was second fastest overall today. The Mercedes duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg also showed promising wet-weather pace, finished the day third and fourth respectively.
“Today’s sessions went okay and, in any case, we know that at this circuit, with its particular characteristics, rain offers us good chances and opportunities,” said Schumacher. His team-mate added: “In general, it was a good and productive day for us. We improved the set-up during the break which helped as we were quicker in the afternoon. I hope we can continue to make progress tomorrow.”
Alonso finished the day tenth, had little to say about his crash this afternoon, and could not draw much from the day’s events.
“In the wet, the car seems okay, but it's practically impossible to say where we are compared to the others,” said Alonso. “[For the crash], the car was aquaplaning and it got away from me. A shame about the front wing and now we must see if we can repair it.”
Bruno Senna understandably blamed the standing water for his crash, but is optimistic that everything will be fixed on his car tomorrow. “On my second run, I aquaplaned on some deep water at the high speed Becketts section of the track and from that point I was a passenger until the car hit the wall. It was quite a heavy accident but I am ok. There is a lot of damage to the car but the Williams team will, I’m sure, do a great job of getting it back into shape for tomorrow.”