After losing his place at the top of the leaderboard in Free Practice 2, Lewis Hamilton has projected a “serious fight” for pole position and victory at the British Grand Prix between Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari.
Hamilton set the pace in FP1 with a time of 1 minute 27.487 seconds on the soft tyres, the fastest compound that Pirelli Motorsport have opted to bring to the resurfaced Silverstone International Circuit, before falling behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel in FP2 by over a tenth of a second as the pace slowed in the unusually intense heat.
Speaking about his home race, an event he is hoping to win for a record-breaking fifth year in succession, Hamilton acknowledged the British summer and the “incredible” support provided by the fans. Hamilton also said that this year, Silverstone is “the fastest it has ever been”.
“The atmosphere has been great,” beamed Hamilton. “The weather is fantastic and the crowd was incredible today.
“The track is the fastest it has ever been; we’re flat out through Copse and Turn 1 and through Turn 2 with the DRS – it’s insane how fast it is. The faster this track gets, the better it gets. It has to be the best track in the world, it feels like driving a fighter jet around the track.
“However, it is also the bumpiest track I’ve ever experienced; it’s like the Nordschleife! With the speeds we’re going now and the g-forces we’re pulling, I think it’s going to be the most physical race of the year.”
Hamilton opted against using the hard compound – making its first appearance at a 2018 race weekend – on Friday and expressed no worries in excessive degradation on either the soft or medium tyres. The Brit has only taken one set of hard tyres for the whole weekend.
“I was on the soft and the medium tyres today,” he added.
“The soft felt better than the medium, and they seem to last – which is impressive if you look at the forces and loads they have to take on this track.”
The 33-year-old is anticipating an exciting battle between Ferrari and Mercedes; the Italian team assumed the lead of the Constructors’ Championship by ten points courtesy of the double-retirement suffered by Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas last weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix.
“It’s going to be very, very close this weekend, the Ferraris are really fast. We’re in for a serious fight which is great for the fans and I hope that we can pull through.”
Hamilton is also aiming to regain his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. A win at Silverstone will guarantee that status, regardless of Vettel’s performance.