September 18, 2021

Stroll fastest, Albon crashes, with Mercedes behind

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Albon’s crash for Red Bull triggered red flags during qualifying simulations; Hamilton fifth fastest for Mercedes

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 31/07/20 5:15pm

1:22
Alex Albon causes red flags as he hit the barriers during Practice Two of the British GP.

Alex Albon causes red flags as he hit the barriers during Practice Two of the British GP.

Lance Stroll underlined Racing Point’s growing momentum by setting the Friday pace at Silverstone in a scorching second practice at the British GP.

Red Bull’s Alex Albon was second fastest but a later crash at Stowe brought out red flags and compromised many other drivers’ qualifying simulations when they would have set their quickest laps.

Mercedes, winners of each of 2020’s first three races, were only third and fifth with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton respectively.

Hamilton aborted a later lap after running wide on soft tyres when the session resumed.

Max Verstappen, Albon’s team-mate, did not complete a qualy sim and was outside the top 10 entirely.

The Dutchman had earlier been angered by Romain Grosjean when he had to back out of a hot lap after encountering the Haas driver in the middle of the super-fast Maggots and Becketts complex.

2:17
Haas driver Romain Grosjean held up Max Verstappen, who gesticulated angrily from his cockpit during second practice.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean held up Max Verstappen, who gesticulated angrily from his cockpit during second practice.

Charles Leclerc did get a strong lap in and was fourth for Ferrari but team-mate Sebastian Vettel endured a torrid day. After missing the first session entirely with car trouble, Vettel lost more time in the second session and then seemed to struggle with his car when out on track.

Carlos Sainz enjoyed a strong session to put McLaren sixth on the timesheet, with Nico Hulkeberg completing a very respectable first day back in F1 after his whirlwind call-up to Racing Point by finishing seventh.

Hulkenberg, who had only briefly sampled the RP20 for the first time in the team’s simulator at their nearby factory, was 0.6s off Stroll’s pace in both sessions.

Sky F1’s Jenson Button said of Hulkenberg: “A night sleeping on it, running through all the data, looking at where Lance is quicker… he’ll come out the blocks tomorrow and be much more competitive.

“But Lance is on it, he’s properly on it. You’d like to see how Checo [Perez] would be because I really feel that’s one of Lance’s best laps in an F1 car.”

Pierre Gasly was an impressive eighth for AlphaTauri ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault, while Alfa Romeo showed signs of improved pace as Kimi Raikkonen took 10th.

3:05
Nico Hulkenberg reflected on a ‘crazy and wild 24 hours’ as he impressed on his unexpected return to Formula 1 action in place of Sergio Perez, who tested positive for coronavirus.

Nico Hulkenberg reflected on a ‘crazy and wild 24 hours’ as he impressed on his unexpected return to Formula 1 action in place of Sergio Perez, who tested positive for coronavirus.

Are Racing Point a threat to Mercedes?

The rise of Racing Point – and the controversy attached to their Mercedes-inspired car – has been one of the biggest stories of the F1 year so far and the last race in Hungary, when they locked out the second row and finished fourth in the race, showed the biggest glimpse of their potential so far.

With the famous old Silverstone circuit bathed in 35-degree sunshine on Friday, in addition to the more typical gusty winds, the formbook heading into the weekend is perhaps slightly more difficult to read than normal given temperatures are expected to dip for the weekend.

Chasing an astonishing eighth successive pole at the circuit, Mercedes are still expected to be the outright front-runners – although have pointed out that Racing Point are a strong competitor in the kind of high-speed corners that Silverstone possesses in abundance.

Stroll’s pacesetting lap of 1:27.274 was already only 0.5s away from their best in qualifying last year, when the Canadian and Perez were knocked out in Q1 and Q2 respectively.

“This has been a really testing day for the drivers and teams,” said Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson. “I don’t think they were expecting it to be quite as challenging. We’ve seen lots of mistakes, lots of anomalies in terms of car balance and lap times.

British GP Practice Two Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1. Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:27.274
2. Alexander Albon Red Bull +0.090
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.157
4. Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.296
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.307
6. Carlos Sainz McLaren +0.546
7. Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point +0.636
8. Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0.723
9. Daniel Ricciardo Renault +0.838
10. Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +0.885
11. Lando Norris McLaren +0.895
12. Esteban Ocon Renault +0.945
13. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +0.982
14. Max Verstappen Red Bull +1.116
15. Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri +1.152
16. Romain Grosjean Haas +1.290
17. George Russell Williams +1.497
18. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.586
19. Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.624
20. Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.684