The first “Friday qualification”Had nothing to envy to the sessions on Saturday, with 3Q as always fought, in a formula that will be anyway hard to beat under the profile of show. The check Hamilton who returns to leave at the pole, even if it does not count as pole position, with a fantastic session, race in crescendo, with its rival Verstappen who seemed to have the situation in hand but failed to keep the same confidence level with the car as the sessions progress e the lowering of temperatures. In particular his RB16B seems to have suffered at the front, a gradual increase in understeer. We compared Verstappen’s lap with Hamilton’s and we immediately noticed one thing a lot macroscopically evident.
In fact, it is immediately clear to what extent Hamilton and Verstappen’s speed measurements are factual reversed from last weekends, with a Mercedes very faster in virtually all stretch of the runway and one RedBull with more cornering performance, especially in medium-high speed curves. It is therefore evident that after the indecision of the first session, a set-up was chosen at Brackley much more exhaustaerodynamically to face the weekend and on the contrary Milton Keynes opted for a maximization of the load, then going to exploit power and aerodynamic efficiency to find top speeds. Between the two, the particular choice is certainly that of Mercedes, which takes a path like this risky despite running in race trim for well 400 km this weekend between sprint qualifying and race. Hamilton’s ability however of drive to the limit a car with less load is impressive, especially in the section from Luffield (turn 7) to Chapel (14), with the Briton facing almost full also Maggots and Becketts, taking off 2 gears at the very last for the slower Chapel corner. Verstappen, however, at Brooklands (6), Chapel (14) and Stowe (15) shows the greater downforce put on the track by Red Bull, which on the front race pace is tire management it could mean an important advantage for the current championship leader. The difficulties at the front of Verstappen then seem to be derived from the lowering of the temperatures in the English evening, but sprint qualifying and race will be raced in afternoon hours more appropriate and therefore for Hamilton the path, after today’s splendid feat, will be anything but downhill.
We have also calculated the load indices of the first 4 teams and the results reflect what has been stated so far.
Verstappen this time it is by far the car it turns out to have more load, with Norris and Hamilton behind on a similar level. Leclerc has a asterisk because at the point of maximum speed (before the Stowe braking) it was about 5 seconds behind Norris and this, looking at the previous rounds, seems to have given him about 2 or 3 km / h more top speed influencing the load index which otherwise would have been closer to Norris and Hamilton, testifying to one Good Ferrari on the flying lap and a Leclerc once again master in bringing out the most in the moment that matters most. Looking at Leclerc’s lap data compared with Norris’s, we notice aexcellent Ferrari in the first sector, able to extract the maximum potential in slow curves and in traction, up to turn 7. From there Norris he generally manages to find better surveys, except at Becketts (12), where Leclerc obviously takes a lot of his own to get a few meters ahead and close the central sector 1 thousandth faster than the Englishman of McLaren. Even at the Stowe corner (15) Leclerc anticipates the braking to exit in progression and then find more top speed at the braking point of the last chicane, dealt with very well.
Tomorrow the second free practice session will (unfortunately) be under closed park, which means that there will hardly be much movement on the track and great possibilities for variation. But in the afternoon we will see the sprint qualifying, to understand if this experiment has a future or not and how the values in the field will change with a race consisting of practically a single long run in which the tire management and the choice of compounds they can make an important difference.