The man from Madrid was the fastest in the only useful free practice session, since the first one was held in the wet | The ‘porpoising’, a serious problem for many drivers, including Alonso
Once again, Formula 1 made it clear that the current format of the weekends has a serious problem in terms of entertainment. On Friday his useful action on the track was shortened, given that the first free practice session of the British GP was held in the wet. The fastest was Valtteri Bottas with the Alfa Romeo, something that is obviously not going to be repeated for the remainder of the weekend, and not even all the riders rode. Therefore, the second hour of rehearsals was the only really analysable. Carlos Sainz appeared there. With many doubts among the other drivers, the man from Madrid made his own plan dedicated mainly to testing the novelties that Ferrari has brought (all teams have evolutions) to Silverstone. In his case, the engine cover and a few tweaks to the flat bottom and the front spoiler. That made him carry the showy paraffin in his car, like other rivals, with which his technicians obtained the consequent necessary data.
In those conditions and with the track already dry, but somewhat cold, Sainz set the best time of the day, ahead of a surprising Lewis Hamilton and an even more surprising Lando Norris. It is not expected that the McLaren will be up there in the standings, given that in addition to the chess game that is every Friday, Red Bull did not appear. Max Verstappen completed the day in a discreet fourth place, with Sergio Pérez in seventh, something that would be very strange to happen again. Like the one who warms up on the edge of the dance floor before sweeping through a salsa show, the championship’s biggest names focused on not breaking anything and confirming that the new parts worked.
The one who did not miss his appointment this Friday at a packed Silverstone – the public always responds to the call of the British GP – was the great enemy of this year’s drivers and technicians: ‘porpoising’. If in the morning he did not appear, in the afternoon he did it in a big way and it was seen in the subjective cameras how they suffered in their flesh the incessant pitching and rebounding that is a nightmare. One of them was Fernando Alonso, who every time he braked at the end of the long finishing straight, he tried to control the Alpine A522 as best he could without losing control.
The Alpine, by the way, is one of the cars that brings the most novelties to Silverstone. Those responsible for the team warned about it in the previous days: the British GP is marked in red on the calendar. The July marathon, with four scoring events, is a golden opportunity to rejoin the top of the table, although they have to play their cards smartly to do so. Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari have also evolved their respective cars, so Alpine must have done a little better if they really want to qualify for that coveted area of the podium.
The doubts of Alpine and Mercedes
They have brought a new floor to the old ‘Royal Air Force’ aerodrome, modified side pontoons with a curious and visible ‘ferrarised’ slit, a new engine cover and a front suspension adapted to the needs of this circuit. Although the sensations this Friday were positive on Alonso’s side, since he finished with the sixth time trial, this was not the case on Ocon’s side: he only did twelve laps and was more than 1.2 seconds behind Sainz’s time. Fuel loads only partially explain this performance difference.
Having Alpine as a team between mists and doubts is not something that can be ruled out in any race, but it is still rare for Mercedes. Thus, Hamilton’s second time in free practice suggests that they have tweaked something that is good for them. In his case, the W13 debuts front suspension, the controversial side is retouched, the floor has been almost completely redesigned and the rear spoiler also changes. It cannot be considered a new car, but the facelift is evident and, in the words of the seven-time champion, it works. “It is clear that we have improved,” he pointed out later. It will be necessary to see if this presumed improvement is transferred to the track in the classification. Both Hamilton and ‘Mr. Consistency’, as George Russell has been repeatedly baptized for his ‘top 5’ streak, ended Friday with good feelings. Will they get into the fight with the roosters?