Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2018

Mercedes are on pole but only Williams have made less progress

Lap Time Watch: 2018 British Grand Prix

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Formula 1 hasn’t made the same kind of leap in lap times at Silverstone as it did at the Circuit de Catalunya – the other circuit on the calendar which has been resurfaced since last year.

At the Catalunya track a new, grippier, smoother surface plus softer tyres meant lap times fell by over three seconds. But while Silverstone has the same kind of surface, most drivers believe it remains very bumpy (Fernando Alonso is a significant exception to this view) and Pirelli has selected its hardest tyre mix of the year.

As a result, Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time this year is only seven-tenths of a second faster than last year:


What is striking about this is every team, with just a single exception, has made a greater year-on-year gain in lap time than Mercedes has. The exception is, of course, Williams.

And even the struggling Grove squad virtually matched the gain Mercedes has made in the past 12 months. This is despite fitting a new rear wing which appears to have exacerbated the FW41’s dire handling problems. What a change from a week ago, when they could sincerely talk about having made “genuine progress”.

The unusually hot temperatures may also be playing a role in why the lap times at Silverstone haven’t fallen by as much as they have on many other circuits this year. Ambient temperatures of 30C and track temperatures hitting 52C are not typical conditions for this race.

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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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4 comments on “Mercedes are on pole but only Williams have made less progress”

  1. maybe I’m overly optimistic here, but for me the takeaway from the article is that Williams actually made some progress; after all, so far on most of the tracks they have been slower than last year.

    but yeah, the car is still a turd. I wonder if the years of working with one, somewhat simpler, design philosophy resulted in the engineering team’s inability to understand the radically different concept they created, and to improve it at a rapid pace, or any pace at all…

    it is peculiar to see so many teams struggling with aero this year.

  2. Nice progress from Williams if you factor the Massa-effect and the fact the Q time was set in a single late run trying to not spin the car and at least put a time on the board.

    1. Ahaha, indeed!

  3. Shanghai’s still in the wrong place on the ‘Lap time improvement in 2018’ chart. BTW, the tyres used for this GP this time are actually the same as twelve months ago rubber-wise despite the compound names being different, so, therefore, the current soft is the same as last season’s super-soft, and the same with current medium/2017 soft, and current hard/2017 medium. Still, it’s a bit weird that this circuit only saw an improvement of seven-tenths (the same amount as in Montreal, and a tenth less than in Bahrain, but over a tenth more than in Shanghai) on last season despite the resurfaced tarmac. I was definitely expecting much more significant improvement due to that.

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