Hamilton leads followed by Bottas; The surprise: Ricciardo finishes third
Very high degradation: blisters in the middle with less than 20 laps
The hard option will be optimal, but … one or two stops on Sunday?
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets again in Free Practice 2 of the 2020 Formula 1 70th Anniversary GP. Mercedes is unrivaled at Silverstone in both one lap and long run. Even so, the great attraction of this weekend is once again the high degradation of the tires and a very tight middle zone. Session also marked by the breakage of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari engine.
Free 2 started punctually at 16:00 CEST with an ambient temperature of 30ºC and 40ºC on the asphalt. After a first session not very representative in terms of times, the second practices were anticipated as an interesting scenario to see the relative rhythms of each team.
A lot of calm in the first minutes. Drivers chatting with track engineers, Mattia Binotto talking with Christian Horner, filming focusing on clouds that warned of possible precipitation … Curious images that Formula 1 gives us every weekend.
The Haas, the Alfa Romeos, Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo broke the silence at Silverstone. First riders to hit the tarmac this weekend with a compound other than soft. All with the medium, except the Australian Renault with the hard.
15 minutes later the Ferraris joined the party with the medium and the Racing Points with the soft. Variety in the programs of each team, but all with the same purpose: to study the duration of the hardest rubbers after a first session full of blisters and degradation in the soft compound.
Valtteri Bottas came out to roll with the medium, while Lewis Hamilton did it with the soft. The Finn smashed the best time of the session so far from Lance Stroll to set a 1’25 “917. McLaren also rode the soft in the cars of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Those of Woking, in the same tenth as Racing Point .
Hamilton cut Bottas’s time by six thousandths. Max Verstappen with the middle was behind the two ‘untouchables’ to five tenths. Little change to the script this weekend compared to last week.
Bottas mounted the soft tire with 55 minutes remaining and dropped to 1’25 “782 ahead of Hamilton. Curious image at Racing Point, improving his times on the medium compound. A sign that the teams may decide to qualify tomorrow with the medium instead of the soft one due to the degradation problems that the latter may present on Sunday, a lot of uncertainty in this regard.
Lights and shadows in Ferrari. Charles Leclerc with the soft behind Racing Points, but ahead of McLaren and the rest of the midfield. For his part, Sebastian Vettel four tenths behind his teammate just behind Alexander Albon, another man on the line this season.
Surprising Daniel Ricciardo with the soft. The Australian placed third, ahead of Verstappen. The Dutchman came out with another set of new softs, but was a few tenths of the time of his former teammate at Red Bull. Renault, very strong at Silverstone despite being one of the cars with less top speed.
With half an hour to go, he started the usual long runs of the race. Very little difference in performance between soft and medium, even the latter faster in some cases.
Carlos Sainz began his simulation with the soft. The Ferraris and Williams rode soft and medium on their two drivers to compare the performance and degradation of both compounds. The Racing Points and the Mercedes, all with the medium.
Lots of degradation on McLaren soft compounds. Sainz pitted with six laps and Norris with nine. Blistering symptoms in Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari with an average of less than 20 life spins.
An interesting Sunday is anticipated in which the clear bet is to opt for the hardest rubbers due to its longer duration. The big question is: go to one or two stops? Risking the former is exposing yourself to a puncture as we saw last week, but it is also opening the doors to a potentially very positive result if the tires hold up to the checkered flag.
Problems for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in the absence of five minutes of session. The German’s engine said enough in the middle of the long run and the SF1000 would not stop oozing oil. Clear breakage of the power unit and most likely to force an element change for Saturday. Of course, without penalty. “Engine problems,” the Scuderia later confirmed.
With two minutes to go, another Ferrari-powered car stopped on the track. Red flag and end of session. This time the problems were for Antonio Giovinazzi and his Alfa Romeo. The causes of the Hinwil equipment drawbacks are still unknown, but from the images and sound it is predicted to be either an engine or gearbox problem.