British GP – An English summer’s day?
Silverstone, 6 July – Here we are in England where the English have an expression when something is very dull, saying it would be “more interesting to watch paint dry.” Well, today at the “Home of British Motorsport” watching the track dry would have been more interesting than watching the three hours of free practice, but for the fact it never did. Rain had been predicted and it was not late for its appointment, falling heavily overnight and again from the early hours of the morning.

The biggest losers in all this were the valiant British race fans, many of whom had pitched their tents in the surrounding campsites since Thursday. Wet and cold, they packed the grandstands to witness…very little. Many in the paddock, including our English technical director, Pat Fry lamented the fact that the teams and drivers were unable to put on a good show today. Inevitably there is usually less time spent on track in the rain, as there is a higher risk of damaging the cars but in this case, the forecast for continued rain over the remaining two days of the British Grand Prix has made the teams nervous about their stocks of tyres. Although the regulations regarding the number of sets of Intermediate tyres is reasonably generous, conditions today meant that only the Extreme wet was a viable tyre choice and this type of tyre is limited to three per driver per race meeting. Naturally, being competitive in qualifying and the race has to take priority over putting on a show for the fans. Maybe they found some consolation in the fact that one of the home drivers, Lewis Hamilton, ended up quickest today at the wheel of his McLaren. However, more than ever the Friday times meant very little and more pertinently, the conditions made it hard for the Scuderia Ferrari engineers to gather any useful data relating to the minor updates introduced on the F2012 here. Fernando Alonso was one of several drivers who momentarily became a passenger in his own car, when he aquaplaned through deep standing water, which resulted in the nose of his car being wiped off across a crash barrier. The team is now working on having it repaired.

Ironically, an hour or so after the end of the second free practice session, a weak and watery sun appeared over Silverstone, raising hopes that maybe tomorrow, the dry tyres might finally come out from under their heated blankets, for the final hour of free practice and the afternoon qualifying session.

British GP – Nothing new in the wet
Silverstone, 6 July – The main contender during this first free practice session for the British Grand Prix was undoubtedly the rain, which had been predicted and did not disappoint. The session was run entirely in the wet, making it impossible to evaluate updates brought to this event. Quickest was Romain Grosjean who lapped in 1.56.552 in the Lotus, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (1.56.827) in the Toro Rosso and Lewis Hamilton (1.57.174) in the McLaren. Felipe Massa was fifth for Ferrari in 1.58.119, while in the other F2012, Fernando Alonso did not post a flying lap time, as he stayed in the garage waiting for conditions to improve: both Ferrari men in fact were keen to save rain tyres and just did some practice starts prior to the end of the session. Along with many other drivers Felipe and Fernando wore a sticker in the shape of a star to show support for Maria De Villota, the young Spanish driver, injured at the wheel of a Marussia in a testing accident at Duxford aerodrome on Tuesday.

British GP – Lots of rain, not much show
Silverstone, 6 July – Friday’s free practice took place in bad weather, with incessant rain that put paid to a large part of the afternoon session. The drivers in the British Grand Prix, the ninth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, were restricted to long periods in the pits because of the uncertain track conditions. There was also a red flag after an incident involving the Williams of Bruno Senna, who spun off after aquaplaning.

The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers started their engines just 20 minutes before the end of the session with the aim of testing the intermediate tyres and evaluating the best aerodynamic configurations ahead of Sunday’s race, which is also expected to take place in wet conditions. In the final moments Fernando Alonso was another victim of aquaplaning and he was unable to avoid an impact with the barriers, breaking the nose of his F2012 to confirm how difficult conditions were at the circuit.

At the end of the session the Spanish driver had set the 10th fastest time with 1:59:015 while Felipe Massa ended up 15th with 2:00:565. The McLaren of Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time with 1:56:345, followed by the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi (1:56:474) and the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher (1:56:545).

British GP – Rain the unwelcome visitor at Silverstone

A particularly concise press release today, written after three hours of free practice that said nothing or next to nothing, because of the far from summery weather in this corner of England. The F2012s completed just 32 laps, (18 from Alonso and 14 from Massa) and of these, only nine were timed (six for the Spaniard and three for the Brazilian.) Therefore it is pretty much impossible to draw any sort of conclusion or to make predictions when it comes to the rest of the weekend.

Fernando Alonso: “There’s very little I can say this afternoon, or at least even less than usual for a Friday. We did very few laps because of the rain and the fact that, with the number of sets of rain tyres limited by the regulations, there was no sense in doing more running. Rather, it was better to save tyres, given that the forecast is definitely not encouraging, as it is meant to rain all weekend. In other circumstances, if the rest of the weekend was meant to be dry maybe, then we could have done more running, but in these conditions, as I said, that really wasn’t the case. In the wet, the car seems okay, but it’s practically impossible to say where we are compared to the others. Tomorrow morning, let’s hope we can at least do a few laps in the dry so as to least have a rough idea of the behaviour of the Soft and Hard compounds that Pirelli has brought here. The off track moment towards the end? The car was aquaplaning and it got away from me. A shame about the front wing and now we must see if we can repair it.”

Felipe Massa: “The weather made this a difficult day. It rained all the time and upset our workload therefore we decided therefore to do only a little running to save tyres for tomorrow and Sunday. Obviously this meant we were not able to test the way we wanted, especially when it came to the small updates we have brought to this Grand Prix. I did only three timed laps, so it’s impossible to say anything about how the F2012 is behaving on this track. Tomorrow, regardless of the conditions, we will try and do more laps to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race. We will try and do what we can.”

Pat Fry: “Let’s say that today it would have been more interesting to compare tortellini with tagliatelle – or maybe Parma ham and Jamon Serrano, rather than spending three hours on the pit wall not even managing to complete a dozen timed laps! Joking apart, honestly it wasn’t worth doing much running, because the number of sets of rain tyre per driver is very limited and also because we did not want to risk the cars in such difficult track conditions, with so much surface water. So the real off key moment of the day was Fernando’s off track excursion right on his “in” lap at the end of FP2, which resulted in a broken front wing: now we will try and repair it for the rest of the weekend. We feel very sorry for the many spectators in the grandstands: unfortunately, this was the reality of the situation and we could not do many laps just for the sake of it. We had a few updates, nothing revolutionary, to try but obviously, we could not do much in these conditions. So we tried to do what we could, for example some practice starts, putting off until tomorrow the task of preparing for qualifying and the race. Certainly, if the rain was to continue to play its part, then we will have to be clever in managing the situation as well as possible. We continue to push on the development of the F2012, because now that we have significantly reduced the gap to the best, compared to where we were at the start of the season, it becomes increasingly difficult to make progress: the pace and effectiveness of the updates will be the key to the rest of the season.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 22nd – 4 10th 1.59.015 14 295
F. Massa 5th 1.58.119 7 15th 2.00.565 7 294

First session: air 16 °C, track 17 °C. Rain
Second session: air 17/15 °C, track 18/16 °C. Rain