ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the Silverstone paddock following qualifying for the 2018 British Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton: The atmosphere has been great – 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. I was on the Soft and the Medium tyres today; 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. 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.
Valtteri Bottas: The track is quite different compared to previous years – there’s a lot of grip from the new tarmac, but at the same time a lot of bumps. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to affect us in terms of performance, only the high-speed corners like Turn 9 or Turn 13 are a bit trickier. But it’s not a big issue since we also gained grip from the new tarmac. We got the Soft tyres working okay; we experienced some overheating issues as track temperatures hit more than 50 degrees today, and we expect similar conditions on Saturday and Sunday. The Hard tyres felt more robust; it was a bit slower, but will go longer. The Ferraris look really competitive; I expect us to find more performance for tomorrow, but it is going to be really close.
James Allison: If anyone thought this weekend was going to be a walk in the park for us, then today will have disabused them of that notion. It looks mighty close at the front between us and Ferrari – both on the long runs and the short runs. It’s going to be quite a tussle, managing the tyres on a very, very demanding track in hot conditions. From what we can see, we’ve got a decent handling car that has every chance of doing well both tomorrow and Sunday if we make all the right moves.
Sebastian Vettel: « The situation is difficult to judge because we haven’t seen much today and mostly collected data, and also because time is limited between the two sessions. But the important thing is that we had a good Friday, everything we put on the car seemed to work, and I felt happy with the balance of the car straight away and managed to find a good rhythm from the beginning. There has been a lot of talk about the third DRS zone: it may be easier to drop the wing for us than for smaller teams, whose cars have probably less downforce, anyway we’ll see what happens in the race. I believe that most of the difference today is due to the new asphalt and… the amazing English summer. »
Kimi Raikkonen: « It was a very normal Friday. We have been trying different things and solutions and learning as much as we could. For sure there’s still some work to be done, but so far everything is ok. The resurfacing of the track made it a bit bumpy, in a few small spots, but all the time you feel it chattering all around the track. It’s a bit funny, but in the end it’s better than it used to be. This track has many nice parts and the grip has increased with the new tarmac. I don’t know if the new DRS zone is creating overtaking opportunities: I think it depends on what your car can or can’t do. I closed the wing during practice, I think it’s too tricky to keep it open and it doesn’t really make a big difference in lap time. Now we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. »
Max Verstappen: « In FP1 I had a problem with the gearbox but I don’t know exactly what that is yet. In FP2 I think I was a bit too quick on the hard tyre; I tried to go too fast through the corner and I just lost it. The feeling is good and the car is working quite well but we are just losing a lot of time on the straights which is unfortunate. The hard tyre was very stiff, I only did a few corners on it but it didn’t feel fantastic. I expected with the new surface that it would be a lot smoother but it wasn’t, some of the really big bumps have gone but anyway, it is always really good to drive on this track with such fast corners. I always feel good here. Of course it’s not ideal to lose a session but I felt confident already in FP1. It seems like we may not be fighting for pole but we will try again tomorrow and at least I have two sets of soft tyres, which is positive. FP3 is still long enough to understand the car and tyres and anyway I will have Daniel’s data from today. We will be ok. »
Daniel Ricciardo: « It was actually pretty warm for Silverstone which we aren’t used to. I normally bring a ski jacket here, even in July (laughs). We weren’t really quick enough today. We will try and improve a few things which will hopefully put us a bit closer tomorrow but it seems for now quite a big step to Ferrari and Mercedes who look really strong. We certainly lose a fair bit of power, on the overlays you can see we are able to gain a bit in some corners but then we lose a bit of that and more. We will do what we can but at the moment we aren’t on their pace. Just keeping the tyres in a good condition in these uncharacteristically hot conditions is key, if we can get on top of that then maybe in the longer runs when we get into the race on Sunday it will come to us. I don’t think we can expect too much in Qualifying and if we are to qualify on the third row we really need to understand how to make the tyres go longer and then hopefully we will have a chance on Sunday. One thing is for sure, it was fun keeping it open all the way through turns one and two. »
Esteban Ocon: « It’s been a busy day for the team. We had an update package to evaluate in the morning session, where we split the test plan between the two cars. Understanding how these tyres work on the resurfaced Silverstone track was one of our main aims from the day: we gathered a lot of data about all the compounds and we expect the conditions to remain very hot for the rest of the weekend. The margins are, as always, very tight in the midfield, so we will need to make a step forward before qualifying, but I think we can aim for Q3 tomorrow. »
Sergio Perez: « It was quite a good day, ending up in the top ten in both the sessions. We’ve done most of our homework for tomorrow and the new aero parts certainly helped us. The car is feeling good and I’m confident we can be strong tomorrow and Sunday. We just need to keep working hard tonight on the small details to find those last few tenths. »
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief operating officer: « We had a positive day of practice, with both cars running very different set-ups to analyse the upgrades we are bringing to this race – namely the new floor. We collected most of the information we needed and we will work hard to find more performance in the lead up to qualifying. The new track surface is very smooth, but there’s plenty of grip out there. The tyre compounds are very different from those used in the last few races, but we managed to run on each of them and this should give us the information we need to make the best choices tonight. »
Sergey Sirotkin: »I made a very big mistake in FP1 which was disappointing, spinning the car in the gravel. So, we were very blind going into FP2, which didn’t go that bad. For me, it was a massive jump because I lost track-time and running in the first session, but I think we recovered well and completed quite a few laps in FP2. We have seen slight improvements in some areas regarding performance. I haven’t seen the guys yet but there are some positives to take from today and we have a lot of things to go through tonight. »
Lance Stroll: »This morning looked better, but this afternoon wasn’t so good, so we shall see tomorrow. We have to look into it a little more, but the car didn’t feel quite as good this afternoon. The track temperatures went up, it could be that, but it is the same for everyone so we just need to look at what happened. The tyres are going to need quite a bit of management in the race. It is going to be between a one-stop and a two-stop, so we will see what we will do. The usual route throughout the weekend is that we both have different set-ups. It is bumpier than I predicted it would be coming into the weekend. I felt that with the new surface it was going to be smoother, but it doesn’t seem to the case, as it was quite similar to how it was last year. But that is okay as I don’t think it is too bumpy. The third DRS zone I think is good. I haven’t done turn one with it activated yet, but some cars did and I think it gives a bit of a challenge to the drivers. We will perhaps see this more in other circuits – I would like to see it in 130R in Suzuka! »
Paddy Lowe, chief technical officer: »This morning we had some new aerodynamic components including a new rear wing that we were testing. We went through a very thorough programme just to make sure that that was working well. On Lance’s car, we were trying a continuation of the diffuser work that we had done in Austria with some success and again, that proved to be reasonably successful. Compared to Canada and France, we appear to be inching forward which is a good thing and the rear wing is a step forward. We learnt a lot this morning about tyres, we had an ongoing plan which is very different to how we normally manage tyre temperatures and pressures. This afternoon it’s been about tyre work on both low and high fuel. I think we have learnt a lot on both the qualifying compound and on the option and prime, which behave very differently. We did some experiments during the long run and some experiments on low fuel in terms of how we prepare the tyres. We have a very good direction with that and with what we need to do on the long run, so it’s been a reasonable Friday. Obviously, the car is not where we want it to be, but we are working on it and as long as we are progressing and moving forward then that’s positive. »
Nico Hulkenberg: « That was a standard Friday where we started with the car not where we wanted it and refined it through the day. We made some positive improvements and I’m reasonably happy with how the car’s working here. It’s pretty hot out there and this combined to the new surface should make for an interesting qualifying session tomorrow and race on Sunday. »
Carlos Sainz: « We managed to complete our programme so I’m pretty happy with how the day went. There’s certainly some work to do for tomorrow but we gathered important data. The long run was quite busy with the cars in front so I’m confident there is more pace to come. The new surface has plenty of grip, even when it was dirty at the start of the first session, but it is quite bumpy too. The DRS in turns 1 and 2 was interesting and it was a superb feeling to be flat out at a very hot and sunny Silverstone. »
Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: « Silverstone is always a tricky track to balance for, as there are some quite low speed corners and some very demanding high-speed ones. Today was, however, a standard Friday. We steadily improved the balance over the first session; we started off with a touch too much understeer, but we made a few set-up changes for the second session. This put more front balance in and the car really started to work. When we did our qualifying sims at the end of the second session, the car was working pretty well. We look reasonably competitive on the long runs but will be looking forward to improve for Qualifying tomorrow. »
Brendon Hartley: « It was a good day in terms of reliability as everything ran smoothly. We had a very extensive programme to run today, testing new parts along with old aero configurations which was part of a large data gathering exercise. Given we spent most of the two sessions testing, I don’t think today’s lap times are representative of where we are. We have a lot of numbers for everyone to study overnight and hopefully we can put together the best package for tomorrow. »
Pierre Gasly: « This morning we mainly focussed on aero tests to try and understand our new aero package, so I’m hoping we gathered some good data for the team. In the afternoon we had an issue with the engine which forced me to stop the second practice session early, so unfortunately I didn’t get to complete many laps. At the moment it seems quite difficult for us here, I’m not entirely comfortable with the car as I didn’t really find the right setup to make it work around this track. We’ve got a lot of work to do tonight to improve for tomorrow. »
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: « Apart from the usual Friday programme, the team ran an aero comparison test today. With about 30 minutes remaining in FP2, Pierre had to park at the side of the track when we spotted something unusual on the data. However, as both drivers were running « Friday only » units, it was always our plan to change the PUs on both cars overnight. »
Romain Grosjean: « We’re not pleased to miss FP2, but there’s been some good work done on Kevin’s car. I was following the whole afternoon session. Obviously, we’re going to try and squeeze as much out of FP3 as we can. The car was fast this morning, so I think we should be alright. Hopefully, we can build up nicely tomorrow, and then do some fine tuning for qualifying when the track temperature gets really high. That’s going to be the biggest challenge for us, as we haven’t run those high track temperatures. Kevin was doing some good runs. I’ve just been looking at what he was doing out there, and trying to take that on-board for ourselves for our side of the garage. »
Kevin Magnussen: « The heat’s been the same for everyone, but it’s something that’s making the tire management a bit trickier. Getting them to work – it’s always the main thing. The tires, for all the teams, can be difficult to manage, but that’s the focus. I think tomorrow we could be anywhere from seventh to 13th or something like that. It’s very close. You need to really hook it up to get in front of that midfield, but I think it’s all open. We need to go through the data a bit more to learn about today because we didn’t find many answers in the practice itself. We’ll go through everything and see if we can find some answers. »
Guenther Steiner, team boss: « Romain switched off his DRS a little bit too late on his second fast lap and he lost grip in the rear, because he lost downforce, basically, and he spun out and hit the wall. We had to change the chassis because there is some damage, and it’s easier to change the chassis than it is to try and fix it. The good thing is that Romain was fast and we know what happened to Kevin, so we know he can be faster too. So, I’m cautiously optimistic for tomorrow. Missing one car in FP2 didn’t help us, but we’ve been in difficult positions before and gotten out of them. All in all, the car has shown good potential. »
Stoffel Vandoorne: « I was quite surprised to come to Silverstone and it be so bumpy, especially after the resurfacing. In general it’s not been an easy Friday for us, but I think it’s been pretty positive for the team.
« We split the set-ups between the two cars in FP2 and went in different directions to test various things. Fernando seemed to be going very well in sixth, so hopefully we’ve found some performance that we can take into tomorrow. From Friday to Saturday sometimes we make a bit of step backwards, but we’ll see; hopefully we can carry on improving.
« I think it’s the tarmac here that provides a bit of a peaky feeling in the car. We had a similar feeling in Barcelona and Russia when they were resurfaced, but I think it’ll provide some entertainment. »
Fernando Alonso: « It was definitely a positive Friday for us. We tested several items for future reference, which meant we sacrificed some track time in FP1 for that. In the second session, the car behaved well and we did some tyre tests, but clearly the car is quite similar to how it was in France and Austria.
« In the last 11 days we raced three times, so the performance and the power shouldn’t be too different to what we saw in the last couple of weeks, which means tomorrow it’s going to be tight in the midfield. Two tenths can completely change your qualifying, as you can be out in Q1 or you can be seventh. Hopefully we are closer to Q3 than in the last few races, but everything remains to be seen tomorrow.
« The track is in good condition, in good shape; the asphalt is better, less bumpy, and has more grip. The third DRS zone probably gives us an opportunity to race as well, and the weather is great, so I think we have all the ingredients to see a good race. »
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: « Overall, today has been a good and productive day for us, We went through quite an extensive programme of test items. Both drivers ran different set-ups in both sessions and we conducted contrasting experiments on the two cars.
« There’s definitely still some room for improvement in finding the right balance on both cars for the weekend ahead. This evening it’s heads down for all of us with lots of data to analyse to prepare ourselves for qualifying tomorrow. »
Charles Leclerc: To follow
Marcus Ericsson: To follow
Mario Isola, head of car racing: « No real surprises today, with all the compounds performing exactly as we expected them to and no issues encountered. This is despite Silverstone being one of the most demanding tracks of the year with its long and high-speed corners, intensified by high temperatures all day that are expected to continue into the weekend. The bumps and a changing wind direction were two more hurdles for drivers to overcome, but they managed to complete their scheduled programmes as planned, learning not only about the new surface but also about the hard tyre and how it relates to the end two other well-known compounds that we have brought to Silverstone. The gap between the compounds so far is slightly bigger than expected, with two seconds covering the whole selection here from hard to soft. »