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British GP 2019

JULY 12, 2019

Practice 1 Report - Slippery when wet

Pierre Gasly
© The Cahier Archive

By Dan Knutson in Silverstone

Some light rain and a newly resurfaced circuit created a slippery track in the latter stages of Free Practice 1 for the British Grand Prix. But, after the track dried, Pierre Gasly jumped into first place in the final minutes of the session.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc; Red Bull TAG Heuer –Max Verstappen and Gasly; Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris; Racing Point Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll; Alfa Romeo Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi; Toro Rosso Honda – Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon; Williams Mercedes – George Russell and Robert Kubica.

The drivers all rate the 18-turn 3.660-mile (5.891 km) circuit as one of their favorites on the calendar.

"I really enjoy Silverstone circuit because of the high-speed corners, Becketts and Maggots being my favorite, and it's great fun to drive," said Verstappen who arrived in England fresh off winning Red Bull's home race in Austria. "I also know it pretty well after racing there in F3 before F1. I love to see all the British fans camping and supporting us in the grandstands. There is always a big turnout and they are definitely some of the most passionate F1 fans in the world.

"Because our Red Bull factory is just down the road it is another home race for the team, so I hope we can continue our progress and put on a great show for everyone on Sunday. A lot of great, fast corners is what we like and I can't imagine the calendar without the British Grand Prix."

Kvyat, who had huge "aero rakes" attached to his Toro Rosso, and the McLaren teammates were first out on track for their installation laps.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Centigrade).

As usual, the Mercedes drivers did not go out at all early in the session. And no driver did a flying lap during the first 21 minutes until Kubica clocked a 1:34.735.

Grosjean then provided a bit of entertainment when he spun at pit exit and crunched the front wing of the Haas on the barriers. He then proceeded to do a slow lap during which another bit fell off the car. That brought out the VSC.

Once the track was clear, Bottas turned a 1:29.604 on the medium compound Pirelli tires.

At the half-hour mark Russell spun across the grass at Brooklands. Then Norris spun at Turn 18.

Meanwhile, Bottas had improved to a 1:28.562, which was half a second better than Hamilton in second place. Then the latter responded with a 1:28.122. Bottas came back at 1:27.832 They were a second quicker than Verstappen who had been on the soft compound tires.

Raikkonen stopped out on the track at Turn 7, which brought out the red flags at the 39-minute mark. That was rather convenient as it was time for the drivers to stop and hand a set of tires back to Pirelli.

The top 10 were: Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Gasly, Perez, Vettel, Albon, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Sainz.

The marshals pushed Raikkonen's Alfa to a safe parking spot.

After a 16-minute red flag period, the session restarted. Grosjean was the first out, and this time he avoided the barriers at pit exit. He was on the soft tires and had the track to himself, but then spun at Turn 6. Again without hitting anything.

With half an hour remaining, just about every driver was out doing laps. Some dark clouds had moved in, and there was a chance of a shower or two. And indeed a few sprinkles fell.

Bottas, now on the soft Pirellis, got down to a 1:27.629. Hamilton went off the track, and then nearly collected a McLaren when he went back on.

Albon and Verstappen had also been off the slick track.

All the drivers now pitted, sans Sainz who continued to lap on slick tires. But then he came in as well.

Bottas and Hamilton went back out, now on the intermediate rain tires, with 20 minutes left. But other drivers had slicks on their cars as they headed out. Then the Merc duo pitted for slicks as the track was dry enough for them.

Verstappen improved from fifth to third to second. There were a couple more changes further down the order, but drivers were now concentrating on race runs in the final minutes of FP1.

But not Gasly who vaulted from sixth to second to first with a time of 1:27.173.

The final top 10 were: Gasly, Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Vettel, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Albon and Sainz.