Sebastian Vettel put Ferrari on top of the time sheets at the end of second practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. It’s the first time he’s headed a Friday session so far in 2018.
Vettel’s time of 1:27.552s was almost two tenths quicker than title rival Lewis Hamilton, whose Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest at the end of FP2.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. However Max Verstappen’s day ended in frustration when he went off at Luffield and hit the barriers just 15 minutes into the session.
2018 British Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
A glorious British summer afternoon seemed to leave the drivers disinclined to rush out on track after lunch, and it was nearly five minutes before McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was the first to break cover. The MCL33 seemed a little hot and bothered, suffering a loss of power on its out lap that the team informed him was due to overheating that could quickly clear up.
Sure enough Vandoorne recorded the first lap of the session, clocking in at 1:31.622s in part with a tow from his team mate Fernando Alonso. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc was swiftly able to trim six tenths from that with Alonso himself taking up second position.
It was no surprise that once Ferrari emerged they were immediately on top, Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:29.664s proving a couple of tenths quicker than the first lap from his team mate Sebastian Vettel. Both men improved by a second on their next flying laps to maintain their 1-2 positions ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who had opened his account for the afternoon in third.
However there was bad news for Ricciardo’s team mate Max Verstappen, who was just embarking on his first run when the RB14 snapped into oversteer coming out of Luffield. The Dutch driver attempted to catch it but over-corrected, spinning off and into the outside wall. Although a slow speed incident, the right rear of the car made heavy contact with the barrier and the session was red-flagged while the car was retrieved by the marshalls.
Having not made an appearance on track before the stoppage, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were first out when the session resumed. Hamilton did enough to split the two Ferraris, but Bottas was only fifth behind an improved time from Ricciardo.
Raikkonen was the first of the top five to switch to soft compound tyres which saw him reduce his time to 1:28.525s, but Vettel was able to find half a second more time to take the top spot. Hamilton and Bottas responded with improved laps of their own to take second and third respectively ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Renault’s Nico Nulkenberg and Force India pair Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc rounded out the top ten ahead of the second Renault of Carlos Sainz.
Attention subsequently turned to long distance runs rather than speed trials for the second half ot he 90-minute session. Many teams were running split strategies, with one driver on medium tyres and the other on softs. Only four drivers had been willing to run on the blue-marked hard compound.
Several drivers were still finding the newly resurfaced Silverstone track somewhat tricky, with Vandoorne among those to run wide and go for a bumpy excursion across the sunburned dried grass. Later in the session, Leclerc repeated Raikkonen’s morning off at Brooklands but similarly without any harmful effects, and he was soon back and enjoying an entertaining tussle for position with Alonso.
Pierre Gasly also went off-roading, but he had more serious issues just before the hour mark when the Toro Rosso suffered a power unit related issue. It obliged the French driver to park down an escape road, which meant that he did not cause another interruption to the session.
Raikkonen had been less than impressed when he was forced to brake hard while coming down pit lane to avoid colliding with Lance Stroll after Williams released the Canadian into the Ferrari’s path. The incident is likely to be reviewed by race stewards after the session.
Romain Grosjean was unable to play any part in the session, as Haas worked to build up a new car for him for Saturday following his heavy accident in turn 1 at the end of FP1.
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