Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018

Hamilton on top as suspected gearbox problem halts Verstappen

2018 British Grand Prix first practice

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Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in the first practice session for his home race at Silverstone as lap times fell by over one-and-a-half seconds.

In sunny conditions at Silverstone, with track temperatures reaching 41C, the reigning world champion used a set of soft tyres to lap the track in 1’27.487. His lap was 1.6 seconds quicker than the best time from the same session last year, and within a second of his 2017 pole position time. Team mate Valtteri Bottas, running a new power unit in his car, was within four-tenths of a second of him in second place.

Sebastian Vettel was the only other driver who lapped below the 1’28 threshold, the Ferrari driver ending up half a second slower than the silver cars. Kimi Raikkonen spun the other Ferrari at Brooklands and ended the session in fifth, the pair separated by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull.

Austrian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen, sixth, suffered a setback when his car ground to a halt five minutes before the end of the session. Verstappen reported a possible gearbox problem as his RB14 stopped, which caused a brief Virtual Safety Car period.

The seventh-placed car belonging to Romain Grosjean stopped running long before the end of the session. The Haas driver crashed heavily at Abbey, damaging the front-left corner of his car. He reported he hadn’t successfully deactivated DRS in the new zone which runs through the first corner on the track.

Three Mercedes-engined cars completed the top 10: the Force India pair leading Lance Stroll’s Williams.

Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso ended the session 14th and 15th, and also under investigation by the stewards as both got in each other’s way during one lap. Alonso vociferously accused the Haas driver of repeatedly getting in his way.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’27.48724
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’27.8540.36727
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’27.9980.51122
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’28.1440.65730
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’28.2180.73124
633Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’28.3250.83824
78Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’29.3521.86512
811Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’29.8122.32523
931Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’29.8152.32824
1018Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’29.8782.39125
119Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’29.9422.45525
1210Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.0042.51731
1316Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’30.0272.54027
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’30.0652.57820
1514Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’30.3222.83519
1655Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’30.3582.87122
172Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’30.4162.92925
1827Nico HulkenbergRenault1’30.7013.21418
1928Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.7493.26231
2035Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’31.0173.53022

First practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’27.487

+0.367 Valtteri Bottas – 1’27.854

+0.511 Sebastian Vettel – 1’27.998

+0.657 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’28.144

+0.731 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’28.218

+0.838 Max Verstappen – 1’28.325

+1.865 Romain Grosjean – 1’29.352

+2.325 Sergio Perez – 1’29.812

+2.328 Esteban Ocon – 1’29.815

+2.391 Lance Stroll – 1’29.878

+2.455 Marcus Ericsson – 1’29.942

+2.517 Pierre Gasly – 1’30.004

+2.540 Charles Leclerc – 1’30.027

+2.578 Kevin Magnussen – 1’30.065

+2.835 Fernando Alonso – 1’30.322

+2.871 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’30.358

+2.929 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’30.416

+3.214 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’30.701

+3.262 Brendon Hartley – 1’30.749

+3.530 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’31.017

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2018 British Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Hamilton on top as suspected gearbox problem halts Verstappen”

  1. But still eight tenths off last season’s pole time (1:26.600). I was expecting it to get beaten in the first session already as that happened in Montmelo where the entire track had also been resurfaced ahead of this season’s race weekend.

    1. @jerejj The reason could be that in Catalunya Pirelli brought a softer tyre than last year, whereas they brought a harder compound for Silverstone

      1. @matthijs Actually, the compounds for the British GP this season aren’t harder than the ones from last season, but rather the same rubber-wise despite having different names. The soft from this season is the same as the super-soft from the previous season, and the same with 2018 medium/2017 soft, and 2018 hard/2017 medium.

  2. I’m expecting Mercedes domination this weekend, with a track layout that suits them, and more importantly, tyres that suit them. I expect Haas to be equally good in the battle for best of the rest.

    1. @mashiat ”I’m expecting Mercedes domination this weekend”
      – That was the expectation, for example, for the Canadian GP as well, and we all know how that eventually panned out.

      1. @jerejj Not for me, Canada had cooler temperatures, softer tyres and slow corners; it was a Ferrari track all day.

      2. You forget that in Canada over the years, Ferrari has been close to them. At Silverstone, the gap to Ferrari has been crazily huge. Remember, in 2016 Red Bull were closer to Mercedes and Ferrari and in 2015, it was Williams who were behind the Mercedes. Let’s not forget 2017 when they were at least half a second slower than them. Let us also remember that here you can overtake due to the medium-high speed exits particularly on the Hangar Straight. The main problem with overtaking is that most exits of corners leading to an overtaking zone are slow corners. You need medium to high speed corners to give the drivers a better chance.

        1. @krichelle ”The main problem with overtaking is that most exits of corners leading to an overtaking zone are slow corners. You need medium to high speed corners to give the drivers a better chance.”
          – Wrong, it’s actually the other way round. A slow-speed corner preceding a long(ish) straight generally gives a better chance to overtake into the turn following the straight than a medium or a high-speed corner as it’s easier to follow another car closely through a slow-speed corner than a medium or a high-speed one.

          1. I have to agree with Krichelle and this is a major issue I have with how Tilke tends to put hairpins in front of long straights. It doesn’t promote passing. It just gives the car ahead a jump because the chasing car is still unwinding the steering while the quarry has his pedal on the floor. It doesn’t matter as much that you can’t tuck up under the other guy’s wing on a medium corner because you can still be closing in the corner if you have superior performance in the car or if you are far enough back. Look at how Interlagos has good passing even though it is a fairly short track.

    2. I agree, mashiat, I was expecting ferrari to have the strongest car in canada cause of their baku performance, it doesn’t matter they didn’t win there, it was noticeable they had the best car when straights make up a big % of the track.

      Silverstone is not the same thing, there are several fast turns but not that long straights, so I should expect hamilton domination, even because of the tyres, but don’t forget this year hamilton has been subpar at 2 tracks he usually dominates at: china and canada, so he did 2, he might as well do 3, but apart from that, mercedes should be at least better than ferrari which should be better than red bull.

  3. 0.7 between 7th and 14th…the qualifying battle in the midfield is going to be incredible.

  4. Verstappen 0.8s of the pace on used mediums gives Red Bull some perspective perhaps..

  5. pastaman (@)
    6th July 2018, 13:18

    Gap between the top 6 and the rest is pretty insane

    1. Imagine how much worse it would’ve been without Grosjean …

    2. Yes it’s a good place to break an FIA seal if you have to and if you are in the top three teams.

  6. The Merc spec Pirelli tyres are doing their job.

  7. Dat gap

  8. That chart really highlights the two tier element to the F1 Championship, the last race won by a team outside that top group was in Austalia during March 2013.

    1. Ironically perhaps, it was Raikkonen, who hasn’t won since, despite now driving a Ferrari.

      And if you also consider that the last team to win regularly besides the current front runners was McLaren, which is in freefall right now, you see that part of the problem is that the peloton is just not keeping up. Even Williams, which gets a healthy cut of shared income and should be able to get dibs on any sponsor coming into the sport, is on the ropes. That is, I think this situation is as much about the field just being poor as the top teams consolidating a privileged situation within the sport.

      1. I think it’s all the constant expensive regulation changes, midfield teams can’t compete on the R@D, and it’s going to happen again next season with the reduced aero.

  9. Horner claims the powerdeficit between Renault and Mercedes is 0,9 seconds a lap. That should make Red Bull the fastest car, at least according to Horner.

    1. @matthijs
      The thing is, he’s notoriously exaggerating. If not downright lying.

      1. +1.

        I think more that with this kind of comments he tries to pressure Renault.

    2. @matthijs, as nase notes, Horner has a proven track record in heavily overexaggerating claimed power difference – during the V8 era, for example, the University of Cologne proved that Horner’s public claims of the power difference between the Renault and Mercedes engines were more than twice the actual difference and overexaggerated the difference to Ferrari’s engine by a factor of about three.

      There has also been, on another forum, an individual who was connected to Honda’s racing programme who suggested that the claimed differences in peak power between the teams was again much larger than it really was, often overstated by factors of two or three.

      Horner has every incentive to talk up the performance of their chassis, especially ahead of the partnership with Honda, and to put the blame on Renault instead – after all, he also put a lot of blame on Renault when, a few years ago, Red Bull had a poor car, even though most external observers noted that the car had an unresponsive and unstable front end in high speed corners (with Horner only later conceding, after a major aero update, that aero correlation issues had been hampering their performance).

      In reality, I suspect that the difference in power is unlikely to be making that much of a difference in lap time.

      1. I highly doubt Horner has a monopoly on political speak. All team principals do it to shade a better light in their own team. As to a University proving his exaggeration, I assume they had access to several makes of engines to put on dynos if proof is what they have come up with, which is something of which Horner would not have access. In this current era pretty much the whole world has been conceding the advantage Mercedes has had since 2014, and I’m sure that is not from a power deficit and strictly due to chassis.

        1. @robbie

          I highly doubt Horner has a monopoly on political speak.

          Well, that’s obviously true. But Horner is pretty extreme in that respect, and a bit of a broken record on that subject.

          As to a University proving his exaggeration, I assume they had access to several makes of engines to put on dynos if proof is what they have come up with, which is something of which Horner would not have access.

          I don’t know what study anon is referring to, and I’ve never heard of it before. To say I’d be interested in a link for further research would be a massive understatement.
          However, without knowing the paper, it is extremely implausible that a University should have access to information a team manager in F1 doesn’t have. You don’t need to have a physical entity of each engine you want to compare to gain precise insight into its performance parameters. GPS tracking does the same job for much less money. Every team has access to those, and even if you don’t know the exact aerodynamic properties of other cars, you can make very precise assumptions based on your own chassis, and the fact that drag is proportional to velocity squared makes it an easily identifiable variable. All you need to do is feed a relatively simple computer simulation with GPS data of a rival’s car on a qualifying attempt, and you get a neat little array of performance data, such as drag and aerodynamic efficiency (calculated on the basis of the discrepancy between expected and observed data), peak and average power output. These data can then be used to deduce further parameters, such as fuel loads and engine settings. The margin of error is very small, depending on the granularity of the GPS data, usually not exceeding 5, but definitely not 10 bhp.

          => Horner knows these figures, but he keeps using facts that are inconsistent with them.

          You can say that this is part of his job description, and I’m not going to argue against that. But if he’s on the record saying the engine alone is costing them almost a second per lap, I’m going to call him out on this obvious nonsense.

          In this current era pretty much the whole world has been conceding the advantage Mercedes has had since 2014

          It doesn’t matter what ‘the whole world’ thinks. The F1 circus is an echo chamber; common beliefs and facts have to be treated as entirely different beasts.
          Yes, Mercedes has obviously had a power advantage over Renault since 2014. I’m not going to dispute that. In fact, neither I nor anon have argued against it. Our point is that his numbers are way off, and deliberately so. We’re calling him out on populist agitation.

  10. Sush meerkat
    6th July 2018, 14:34

    Romain Grosjean stopped running long before the end of the session. The Haas driver crashed heavily at Abbey, damaging the front-left corner of his car.

    Normal service is resumed

  11. Boy wonder puts it into the wall in FP2.

  12. Wow. The gap between the big 3 and the others is really noticable. A full second between #6 and #7 fastest.

    1. Yes, and only grosjean managed that, if it weren’t for him it’d be 1,5!

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