Lewis Hamilton felt it was a ‘difficult’ Friday for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at Silverstone, with the six-time Formula 1 champion finishing second and fifth across the two practice sessions.
The Briton, gunning for a seventh home victory this weekend, felt the balance of his W11 was not to his liking, meaning he was unable to maximise the potential of the car. He admitted the weather conditions, particularly the strong winds, did not help.
With Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team both looking strong, Hamilton knows they will need to work on the balance of the car ahead of Saturday’s important Qualifying session.
“It was quite a difficult day to be honest,” admitted Hamilton. “The balance didn’t feel quite right, and the wind made things really tricky out there today. So, we’re going to work on it tonight and try to figure out why I haven’t been feeling as comfortable as I would like.
“It’s been a hard day of driving, but it’s not a disaster and what’s so great about this team is we continue to dive deep into the details – hopefully we’ll make some good changes overnight.
“It’s going to be cooler tomorrow and the Red Bull and Racing Points look strong, so hopefully it’ll be close out there.”
“Normally we are able to make some good steps for Qualifying” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas felt a little bit more positive about his day at Silverstone despite ending the two sessions in sixth and third respectively.
The Finn, who won the opening race of the year at the Red Bull Ring, says Mercedes are good at finding speed before Qualifying so he is confident they can once again be pushing at the front of the field when it matters.
“The car is feeling good out there, the first session was a bit trickier balance wise, but the feeling wasn’t too bad during the second session,” said Bottas. “But the gaps are quite small, with both Racing Point and Red Bull looking strong. So, we obviously have some work to do.
“Normally we are able to make some good steps for Qualifying, so I’m optimistic that we can make some progress overnight. Conditions are going to be completely different for the rest of the weekend with lower track temperatures and a change in wind direction.
“That normally has quite a big effect on this track and it’s going to be about who can react to those changes the quickest. We’ll get to work tonight and see how much more performance we can squeeze out of the car, and hopefully it’s going to be enough.”
“This car is competitive when we land it in the right window” – Andrew Shovlin
Andrew Shovlin, the Trackside Engineering Director at Mercedes, feels the team do not seem to have the same kind of pace advantage it did two weeks ago at the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but there is still time for them to work on getting more from the W11.
Shovlin revealed that both drivers said the car was a ‘handful’ at times as conditions at Silverstone were much hotter than they experienced in any of the three previous races, but there is hope the team can find a solution and work their way up to the front of the field on Saturday afternoon.
“You never know what others are up to on a Friday in terms of fuel loads and power, but it seems that we don’t have the same pace advantage that we had in Budapest,” said Shovlin. “Red Bull in particular look close on a long run.
“There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the car, and it’s the same basic aero package, so we’ll probably end up concluding that we’ve not adapted to the very hot conditions here as well as some others.
“Valtteri seemed happier with his car than Lewis but both feel that the tyres are running hot and that’s making the car a bit of a handful at times on low and high fuel. It’s quite a balancing act in terms of how you respond because we’re expecting cooler weather tomorrow and need to be careful not to over-react.
“This car is competitive when we land it in the right window, and we’ve got a bit of time this evening and another session in the morning to work out how to do that. Hopefully we can finish tomorrow a bit higher up the timesheets.