Lando Norris Lays Down The Gauntlet At Silverstone

Lando Norris Lays Down The Gauntlet At Silverstone
Lando Norris Lays Down The Gauntlet At Silverstone

The first day of track action for the British Grand Prix was held in stereotypical English summer weather. It was on the cool side, the air temperature never getting above 20 °C, the track fluctuating between 20 and 29 ° and considerably lower when it started to rain towards the end of FP2. In fact, the odd shower interspersed with occasional short bursts of sunshine was the order of the day for all three categories on track with Pirelli tyres today.

McLaren made its mark on Formula 1 proceedings, with Lando Norris quickest in both sessions. In FP1, the Englishman stopped the clocks in 1’27”420, while in the second hour he got down to 1’26”549, which is 171 thousandths quicker than last year’s pole position time of 1’26”720 set by Max Verstappen. This afternoon, three other drivers also got under the 1’27” barrier: Oscar Piastri (1’26”880), Sergio Perez (1’26”983) and Nico Hulkenberg (1’26”990). No fewer than four young drivers were given a run in FP1, Englishman Oliver Bearman, Australian Jack Doohan, Argentina’s Franco Colapinto and France’s Isack Hadjar – respectively replacing regular drivers Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull).

As for tyre use, it was a pretty standard day, with teams working on car set-up and on a comparison of the Medium and Soft tyres over a long run. The Hard saw the most use in the first session: Lance Stroll was the only driver who did not complete a single lap with the C1, but he did use it for his first run in FP2. In the second session, it’s worth noting that the Intermediate tyres were called into play by nine drivers, who thus had an initial impression of its handling on a track that was getting progressively wetter towards the end, thus having a little amount of information which could be useful for later in the weekend, as the weather forecast is variable to say the least.

Lando Norris – 1st in FP1 and FP2

“It’s been a solid day. We’ve done a good amount of running and some nice laps, so I feel reasonably comfortable. We’ve made some changes over the morning which helped me get into a good rhythm, which is super important around such a high-speed track like this.

“I think we’ve got a few more to tweaks to make, but it’s difficult with the challenges of wind and rain. It’s been a clean two sessions, and that’s a good start to the weekend, so I’m happy with that.”

Andrea Stella – McLaren Team Principal

“Today at Silverstone we had two productive sessions. There was an ever-present risk of rain, but it only materialised towards the end of the second session, which gave us enough time to go through our run plan and set-up work. In general, we got encouraging information – but conditions were very particular today, so we’re not looking too much at the lap times themselves. We’re now just focusing on tomorrow, when we need to be ready for whatever the weather brings.”

Simone Berra – Pirelli Chief Engineer

“The most salient data from today is the significant reduction in lap time compared to a year ago, as can be seen from the fact that Norris’ best time is already almost two tenths under Verstappen’s 2023 pole time. Unless qualifying takes place on a wet track, it is therefore almost certain that the pole time will be significantly lower than the 1’26”1 predicted from the average of the simulations received from the teams prior to each race. The cooler temperatures compared to last year have definitely had a major influence but it’s also true that on such a demanding and challenging track, the real potential of this year’s cars comes to the fore more than at any other circuit.

“From an initial analysis of the data from the two hours of free practice, we can say first of all that the performance difference between the compounds is in line with what we saw two weeks ago in Barcelona, namely around half a second between the Hard and the Medium and just over a second between the Medium and the Soft. Compared to last year, it seems the Hard is working better, both over a long run and in terms of pure performance, which puts it in play for the race, rather than the Soft which suffered with a bit of graining today.”

Formula 2

It was a special day for Isack Hadjar who drove the Red Bull in the first Formula 1 free practice session, before clinching a very important pole position in Formula 2 qualifying at the end of the session run under the threat of rain, although the track stayed dry throughout. The French Campos Racing driver set a best time of 1’39”368, 251 thousandths faster than his fellow countryman, Art Grand Prix’s Victor Martins (1’39”619).

Formula 3

Rain played a major role in Formula 3 qualifying. The session began on a dry track, but then a heavy downpour forced a switch to rain tyres. When the rain eased off, it still seemed impossible to go back to slicks, but the track surface dried rapidly so that in the very final minutes, everyone had one more chance. In the end, pole went to Englishman Luke Browning (Hitech Pulse-Eight) in a time of 1’44”992, 44 thousandths quicker than American Max Esterson (Jenzer Motorsport), who in turn was 47 thousandths quicker than France’s Sami Meguetonif (Trident).

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