The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team ended both free practice sessions on Friday fastest at Silverstone ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, but an engine failure for Lewis Hamilton dampened their mood somewhat. Nico Rosberg was fastest in the opening session ahead of Hamilton, with the positions reversed for the second session.
Hamilton’s pace in the second practice session before his mechanical issue was impressive. He was over seven tenths of a second quicker than the best non-Mercedes of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in third, and was set to start a long run on high fuel when the engine cut out on him.
“The car felt pretty good here today but unfortunately I lost my most important run of the day this afternoon when I stopped out on track with an engine problem,” said Hamilton. “We haven’t identified what the issue was yet but it shouldn’t impact the rest of my weekend. We will change my programme around tomorrow morning to try and recover the time that I lost and make sure that I can complete my race preparation with a long run. It’s not ideal but we’ll recover!
“Apart from that, Silverstone has been great so far. The atmosphere is incredible and the support is just amazing; I love seeing so many fans here enjoying themselves.”
Team-mate Rosberg was also vastly quicker than every other driver in the field on Friday, and believed he had a productive day on track. He bemoaned the wind that affected the braking points of some corners, but felt positive for a strong weekend.
“That was a very productive day and the car felt really great so I’m feeling quite confident for the weekend,” said Rosberg. “We seem to be very quick here and my long run at the end of the afternoon was very good. The conditions were quite tricky out with a lot of tail wind, which made it really difficult to find the right braking point at some of the corners.
“It’s not good news for us that Lewis had some reliability issues and I hope we can sort this out for the weekend. Finally, it’s great to be back at Silverstone. There are so many fans already and also many of the team Brackley and Brixworth are here. I hope we can give them a great show.”
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff expressed his sadness that Hamilton’s session was cut short, but due to the nature of the relationship within the Mercedes team, the Briton will be able to take some value out of team-mate Rosberg’s data.
“A mixed day for us here in Silverstone: the drivers looked competitive in both sessions but it was annoying that Lewis couldn’t complete his programme this afternoon because of an engine problem,” said Wolff. “Nico was able to finish his programme in a normal way with some good long runs and, because the data is open between both drivers, Lewis and his engineers will be able to learn something from that.”
Executive Director Paddy Lowe said the Mercedes team had a productive day at Silverstone despite Hamilton stopping on track. He also noted that they were expecting to change the engine overnight on Hamilton’s car, and that the stoppage should have very little impact on the rest of the Briton’s weekend.
“We managed to get a lot of useful homework done during first practice, despite the disruptions with yellow and red flags, and both drivers completed longer runs than normal on high fuel owing to the threat of rain later in the day,” said Lowe. “In second practice, we managed to do competitive runs on both the prime and option tyres with Lewis and Nico. Lewis then had an engine stoppage as he was beginning his long run on the option tyre – and we have yet to diagnose this precisely. That unfortunately cost him the high-fuel running in the session but our plan was always to change this unit overnight, so there should be no direct impact on tomorrow’s programme.
“Nico managed to achieve our objectives for the session and the data from his runs with both option and prime tyres will assist both him and Lewis for the race. The pace seemed strong for both cars, although we have a lot more work to do tonight in order to find a perfect balance.”