Nico Rosberg opens the British Grand Prix weekend with the fastest lap around Silverstone during the first free practice session, ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Under glorious sunshine in Northamptonshire, Formula One hit the track in front of the dedicated British fans at Silverstone. And those fans who arrived at the circuit for practice were treated to a strong portion of action as Hamilton lead the session to the death, before Rosberg leaped into the lead after a gearbox change.
For today’s FP1, two more fellow Brits joined the three usuals on track for the session in front of their home crowd with Susie Wolf in the Williams in place of Bottas while Jolyon Palmer hopped in Romain Grosjean’s Lotus. And keeping with the Brits at the British Grand Prix, Will Stevens broke the silence when first free practice ticked into action.
Unfortunately for the British championship leader, Lewis Hamilton, his early session running did not go perfectly despite momentarily setting the fastest lap. As while he attacked another lap, he dipped a wheel onto the astroturf at Stowe and span the car. Luckily that was all for Lewis before he went on to go fastest unlike Rosberg who was forced to pull to the side of the track seconds later with a loss of hydraulic pressure while topping the time sheet, resulting in a gearbox change.
Force India meanwhile where running their highly anticipated B-Spec car that has finally been brought to a race weekend after running in the post-Austria GP test. The biggest visual change for the VJM08 is two nostril’s added onto the nose of the car that will allow airflow to pass through the main body of the car and into their altered turning vanes.
The B-Spec car however was far off the pace set by Hamilton out in front and they lingered in the midfield, 1.8 seconds down. Toro Rosso meanwhile were high up in the order in second and third. But even their position ahead of both Ferrari’s was over a second off Hamilton despite all drivers running the hard tyres.
McLaren had yet another torrid morning with both drivers sitting in the pits for most of the session. Luckily for them they were able to get out on track towards the end of the session, but were far off the pace.
Rosberg, after a 20-minute gearbox change, was able to hit the track again but was far from pleased with the gearbox installed. Lap after lap, Nico complained there were “harsh upshifts” before going on to say “it doesn’t feel good, the upshifts are terrible”.
But even with those upshift issues, Mercedes were able to change his gearbox fast enough for him to complete a few more laps and improve on his best lap to take second away from Verstappen. Not long after, Nico was even able to find another 8 tenths to leap into P1 before the chequered flag fell.
Nico’s last-ditch flyers meant Hamilton had to settle for second in FP1 with fellow Brits finishing in 13th (Wolff), 14th (Palmer), 18th (Button) and 19th (Stevens). Birthday boy Seb Vettel also ended the session behind his team-mate and Carlos Sainz for 6th place but 1.4 seconds off Rosberg and Hamilton’s pace.