Mercedes continues to set Silverstone pace


Ahead of today's second practice session, the air temperature is 16 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees. Typically British and cool, but dry.

Valtteri Bottas headed a Mercedes 1-2 earlier, and in all honesty the only word to describe the German team's performance is 'formidable'.

The pair were almost half-a-second quicker than their nearest rival (Verstappen) and without having to resort to the supersoft rubber.

While Ferrari is said to have its latest engine upgrade here - capable of as much as 10 horsepower more than its predecessor, we saw little evidence of it, both Maranello drivers over a second off the pace. That said, we should get a sneak peek of the potential when the drivers begin their qualifying simulations.

Despite the high cornering speeds on a track which really allows the 2017 cars to show what they can do, there were no incidents of note, though Ricciardo and the Williams duo incurred floor damage after running foul of the "aggressive" kerbs at T9... or Copse as most of us still know it.

Having handed his car over to Antonio Giovinazzi earlier, Kevin Magnussen is back in the Haas this afternoon.

The lights go green and Hulkenberg leads the way, followed by Grosjean and Kvyat. The Russian on mediums the others on softs.

As in FP1, Grosjean has a major wobble in T9, the Haas driver subsequently backing off.

Meanwhile, Hulkenberg gets proceedings underway with a 32.211.

As more drivers head out, Hulkenberg improves to 32.153 and Grosjean posts 32.980.

Making the most of the Spec 3 Honda, Vandoorne (supers) goes quickest in all three sectors to post 31.263.

Like the old days, Alonso and Massa trade fastest sectors. The Spaniard posts 30.959 while the Brazilian stops the clock at 30.838.

A 30.320 sees Vettel go top, the German on softs.

No sooner has Raikkonen gone top (30.308) than he is deposed by Ricciardo who crosses the line at 30.148.

Sainz spins at Becketts, thereby bringing out the yellows.

Going quickest in S1 and S3, Vettel posts 29.850 to take the top spot.

On his first flying lap Bottas goes sixth (3.802) as teammate Hamilton heads down the pitlane.

Raikkonen goes quickest with a 29.161 however, Hamilton is on a very quick lap. The Briton subsequently posts 28.780.

Just 16 minutes in and all but Sainz and the Saubers have posted times.

Just prior to Hamilton blistering effort, Ricciardo had split the Ferraris with a 29.822.

Hamilton improves to 28.543 as Verstappen complains of too much understeer. "I can't drive like this," he warns. "Box," he is told. The Red Bull driver is currently seventh, 1.778s off the pace.

"So that's Lewis Hamilton quickest again," says Pirelli, "quicker than his pole time last year. Using soft compound tyres on each occasion."

It's cool, granted, but wooly hats in the Ferrari garage? Please!

For the first time, Mercedes (Bottas) tries the supersofts. Unsurprisingly, the Finn goes quickest in S1. He's quickest in S2 also, crossing the line at 28.496, only 0.047s quicker than Hamilton's best on the softs.

Talking of Hamilton, the Briton heads out on the red-banded rubber.

Ocon complains that he's losing time in a straight line.

Having gone quickest in S1, a mistake at Becketts means he fails to improve.

Elsewhere, Palmer spins at T7 as Vettel improves to third (28.956) only to be deposed by him teammate (28.934) moments later.

"Car might be damaged," warns Hamilton, no doubt having done his floor no good with that off at Becketts. He pits.

Massa improves to sixth with a 30.006.

"I nearly spun at Becketts," admits Ricciardo, the Australian doing well to keep it all under control. Shortly after Vandoorne spins at the same corner.

The offs are no doubt a combination of the high cornering speeds of the 2017 cars, and stiff winds.

At 'half-time', it's: Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Massa, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Ocon.

Check out our Friday gallery from Silverstone, here.

With just two laps on the board, Sainz heads out again.

The Spaniard's first flying lap of the afternoon sees him go 11th (30.555), slotting in just ahead of his teammate.

As ever, attention now turns to Sunday afternoon as drivers carry out their race sims on high fuel.

Raikkonen complains of throttle "hesitation". Despite that, his current pace is on a par with Hamilton.

Sainz is back in his garage with just 6 laps under his belt, while McLaren is making changes to Alonso's car.

Verstappen is the latest to run wide at Becketts, the Red Bull driver kicking up dust as he runs wide.

With 24:00 remaining, all but Bottas, Alonso, Ocon and the Saubers are on track.

In quick succession, Massa and Raikkonen have moments at Becketts. With the car in the gravel, for a brief moment it appears the Finn could have a problem, however he is able to continue.

"Something happened with the clutch, I couldn't shift down from fifth," says the Finn.

"Understeer everywhere," wails Ericsson.

Raikkonen is warned of "big gusts" of head wind.

Massa and Verstappen almost trip up over one another as the Brazilian refuses to yield track position to the teenager.

The stewards subsequently announce that they have noted the Massa/Verstappen incident.

Mercedes has the edge over Ferrari on long pace, while Red Bull is a similar gap behind the Italian team.

"Difficult to say Lewis, we don't know Vettel's fuel load at the moment," Hamilton is told when he enquires of Vettel's pace.

Having noted the Massa incident, the stewards are now investigating it.

"****," exclaims Ricciardo, "did the kid do?" The kid in question being Grosjean, who is actually older than the Red Bull driver.

So, Mercedes heads Ferrari head Red Bull, with the next positions filled by five different teams.

Though, for the second successive session, Bottas was quicker, Hamilton, who was just 0.047s off the pace, did it on the harder tyre.

So, to recap, Bottas is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Massa, Alonso and Ocon.

Sainz is eleventh, ahead of Kvyat, Perez, Grosjean, Stroll, Vandoorne, Magnussen, Palmer, Ericsson and Wehrlein.

Check out our Friday gallery from Silverstone, here.

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Published: 14/07/2017
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