Formula 1

Verstappen tops first British GP practice, Hulkenberg ninth

Jul 31 2020
By Jack Benyon

Max Verstappen topped first practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, while Nico Hulkenberg made his surprise Formula 1 return with the ninth-fastest time for Racing Point.

With Red Bull bringing a host of updates for this weekend, Verstappen headed out early but complained about his headrest, swearing about the item which he said restricted his head movement.

However, despite expecting to struggle at its home race, Verstappen was just over 0.5s behind the soft-shod Hamilton on the hard tyres once the headrest was altered.

Verstappen then switched to the soft tyres and went 0.474s quicker than Hamilton with just under half an hour to go, a time good enough to top the session as the Mercedes then switched to medium-tyre running.

Valtteri Bottas had topped Hamilton following the first faster runs on the softs, after a Hamilton mistake at Vale where the rear snapped loose.

However, on the next tour Hamilton righted that wrong by going fastest at the time, while a host of later improvements demoted Bottas.

With Hamilton second at the end of the session, Lance Stroll began his weekend as Racing Point’s most experienced driver by delivering a strong performance.

He was third-fastest with a time just over a tenth slower than Hamilton on the same compound soft tyres.

No matter how well Stroll performed though, all attention during the session was on his new team-mate Hulkenberg, who performed impressively on his impromptu return to F1 after parting ways with Renault at the end of last season.

He completed over 20 laps despite a pain in his backside, which he suggested Racing Point might fix with a hammer in old school fashion.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Practice Day Silverstone, England

After that was sorted he switched from softs to mediums and set his best time within the last half hour, a respectable effort given his hasty flight to Silverstone and jumping into the car less than 24 hours after Sergio Perez’s positive COVID-19 test was confirmed.

Alex Albon headed out on the softs at the same time as Verstappen, but was 0.707s slower than his team-mate on a weekend where he beds in with new engineer Simon Rennie, and set the fourth-fastest time behind Stroll.

Charles Leclerc jumped into the top five with a strong lap on the mediums – also in the last 30 minutes – as one of the only ‘front-running’ drivers to avoid the use of the soft tyres in the rare British sunshine.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel completed just two laps due to an intercooler system problem, which required immediate attention in order for the car to be ready for FP2

Bottas ended the session sixth, ahead of the two Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo respectively.

Both the Renault cars remained on medium rubber throughout the session, pointing to impressive pace at the head of the midfield, although reading that far into pace in FP1 may be unwise.

The Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10 ahead of his team-mate Pierre Gasly, while the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz also followed in unison, 12th and 13th respectively.

Adding to the team-mate train, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were 14th and 15th, ahead of the trend-beating Williams of George Russell.

Both Alfa Romeos went off the track in a tumultuous session for the Sauber-run team, which also brought about the session’s only red flag.

Kimi Raikkonen spun in front of the pits and was lucky to escape the gravel trap with an hour and six minutes to go, while just two minutes later Antonio Giovinazzi spun at the exit of Becketts and juddered his car back to the pits after damaging the rear left.

The delaminated tyre sent rubber flying around the circuit as he eked back to the pits, and the resultant debris warranted the red flag to clear the circuit.

Giovinazzi, who would receive a post-session warning for his debris-shedding trip back to the pits, recovered to head his team-mate Raikkonen by the end of the session, the duo 17th and 18th, ahead of the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi and the Ferrari of Vettel.

Practice 1 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m27.422s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.896s +0.474s
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m28.004s +0.582s
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1m28.129s +0.707s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m28.221s +0.799s
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.519s +1.097s
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1m28.559s +1.137s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m28.575s +1.153s
9 Nico Hülkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 1m28.592s +1.17s
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1m28.868s +1.446s
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m28.909s +1.487s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m28.988s +1.566s
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m28.99s +1.568s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m29.532s +2.11s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m29.576s +2.154s
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m29.746s +2.324s
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m29.899s +2.477s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m29.925s +2.503s
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m30.703s +3.281s
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Practice Day Silverstone, England

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