Silverstone, 28 June – Maybe the Formula 1 world has been unfair on the Belgian circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, as it always mentioned in the same breath as bad weather and rain. In truth, in recent years we have experienced those conditions more often here in Silverstone than in the Ardennes and again today, the British track delivered a damp start to the track action for the British Grand Prix.
The heavy rain meant that Scuderia Ferrari and the ten other teams spent much of the 90 minutes of the morning in the garage, waiting for conditions to improve. If this sounds like a poor excuse for the best racing drivers in the world not to go to work, then it should be explained that the real reason behind the on track silence is that there is a fixed number of sets of tyres a driver can use over the course of a Grand Prix weekend and one just cannot risk using them up needlessly. Sadly, as our Technical Director Pat Fry acknowledged, this means the poor spectators had to wait until the dryer afternoon session before getting a taste of what they had come to see. It has to be said, that even on what was a cold, wet and generally miserable day, as usual the grandstands opposite the pits were already packed out on a Friday, which was a great sight to see. Unfortunately, the Prancing Horse fans did not get to see much of Felipe Massa, as he was caught out by a damp patch of track, while running the Prototype Hard compound tyres which Pirelli had brought for all drivers to try today only. It meant the Brazilian lost control of his F138 and when the car slipped onto the grass he was reduced to being a passenger in his own car. It collided with the barriers, damaging the front and putting an end to Felipe’s session after only a few minutes and 7 laps. From then on, the team’s attention focussed solely on Fernando Alonso who completed 32 laps to go tenth on the time sheet.
By tonight, Felipe’s car will be repaired, ready to face the final free practice hour tomorrow morning, followed by the afternoon qualifying session. All the forecasts are currently predicting a dry day with almost summery temperatures, which is good news for everyone, including those brave spectators! Quickest today was Nico Rosberg for Mercedes, while Mark Webber, who yesterday announced he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season, was second fastest ahead of his Red Bull team-mate, Sebastian Vettel. Next up was the first of the local heroes, even if he comes from Scotland, in the shape of Force India’s Paul di Resta, with another British driver, Lewis Hamilton fifth for Mercedes. Rounding up the top six was the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo.
British GP – The weather didn’t help
Felipe Massa: “I am very disappointed about what happened today as the accident cost me valuable time, especially in terms of getting an understanding of the tyre behaviour here at Silverstone. At the exit of the corner, I found myself on a piece of track that was still very damp and I lost control of the car: at that time, the prototype Hard Pirellis that we could use today, were not yet up to temperature and I couldn’t avoid the impact. Luckily, the car only suffered slight front end damage and tomorrow we will comfortably be able to pick up where we left off with the work. On a long run, Fernando’s car went well and even if the low temperatures probably didn’t help, the improved weather expected tomorrow gives us reason to be optimistic. I am certain that together we will try our best to improve so that we can take the fight to our main rivals”.
Pat Fry: “I’m sorry for the fans who packed the circuit today, who did not get to see the show they were expecting, because of the rain. In the morning, track conditions were extremely difficult and with the few sets of tyres available, we preferred to stay in the pits, as did almost all the other teams. In the afternoon, we tried to catch up the time we had lost. Alongside the usual task of finding the best set up to suit the tyres, we also worked on the development and mapping of the aerodynamics. After Felipe’s accident which came after just a few laps, a large part of the team concentrated on Fernando’s car, paying particular attention to the behaviour of the Medium tyre. Tomorrow, we can expect different temperatures and therefore conditions that will be more favourable to carrying out a proper evaluation of the car set-up and of all the details which can influence its behaviour over both a short and long run”.
|ALONSO – chassis 299||MASSA – chassis 298|
|First Session||–||–||4 laps||P11||2:06.534||6 laps|
|Weather: air 15/16 °C, track 17/18 °C. Rain.|
|Second Session||P10||1:33.494||32 laps||P22||1:43.466||7 laps|
|Weather: air 18 °C, track 18/21 °C. Cloudy.|
British GP – An “overcast” afternoon for the Scuderia
Silverstone, 28 June – Fernando Alonso completed 32 laps in the second free practice session this afternoon, setting the tenth fastest time of 1.33.494. The session was more of a struggle than anticipated for Scuderia Ferrari as Felipe Massa went off the track in the early part and so was unable to get through his planned programme, meaning all the race simulation and set-up work fell to Alonso only.
The morning rain had gone by the afternoon, leaving cloudy skies at Silverstone, so the teams were able to run the slick tyres, after using Intermediates for their first run while the track was still damp in the first 15 minutes.
Massa began with five laps on the Intermediates and then fitted the Prototype dry tyres. However, after two laps, the Brazilian spun at Stowe corner and hit the barrier, damaging the front end of the car, which signalled the end of his session. His best time was 1.43.466 and he did just seven laps in total.
British GP – Typically British
Silverstone, 28 June – Almost inevitably, rain was right on cue for the start of track action for the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone circuit. Nothing much happened in the first free practice session, with the majority of the field spending a long time in the pits, following the installation lap, in the hope of an improvement in the weather. Both Ferrari men did just a handful of laps on the Extreme Wet tyres, in the final minutes of the session to familiarise themselves with the track. Fernando Alonso didn’t even set a time, while in the other F138, Felipe Massa was eleventh with a 2.06.534 on a short classification sheet that featured an unexpected Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso in the number one slot with a time of 1.54.249, ahead of the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg (1.55.033) and Pastor Maldonado (1.55.354) in the Williams.