Lewis Hamilton and F1's big names not yet happy at British GP
Blustery conditions cause havoc for drivers in British GP practice; Hamilton says he "struggled" but Ferrari say Mercedes favourites
By James Galloway at Silverstone
Last Updated: 13/07/19 10:51am
F1's leading drivers admitted they found Friday's going tough at blustery Silverstone after an intriguing opening day at the British GP - but Mercedes appear to have established an early edge.
A resurfaced track surface combined with windy conditions to create a challenging test for the grid's 20 drivers, with inconclusive timesheet results.
"More questions than answers," said Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft.
Jenson Button added: "It could be completely different tomorrow as nobody knows where they are."
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But after a rare off-weekend in Austria, when they were outperformed by both their two chief rivals, Mercedes set the Friday pace here - with Valtteri Bottas edging out Hamilton in the quicker afternoon running.
"A good day from the get-go," said Bottas. "It felt not far away set-up wise to start with. Didn't have to search for anything huge between the sessions, so got to enjoy this track again."
But Bottas' rivals appeared less content with their day one performances - including team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the world championship leader and favourite for victory.
"We currently look like we have got good pace, and particularly long run pace looks good, but I really struggled today if I'm really honest," said Hamilton.
"I didn't have the car beneath me, I was struggling with the rear end - you saw me go off multiple times. So Valtteri is a lot more comfortable in the car for whatever reason so we're going to dig deep tonight to try and figure out what that is.
"But, of course, not ruling it [a win] out or anything like that."
Ferrari's lead runner Charles Leclerc, who was third fastest, admitted: "It was quite a difficult day for us. We tested quite a lot of things. Qualy pace is not so bad but our race pace we have been struggling quite a lot."
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, meanwhile, described this Friday as "one of the worst I've had all year" after he finished P2 down in seventh place.
Ferrari: Mercedes the team to beat
The fact the world championship leaders ended Friday at the head of the order on a fast, flowing circuit such as Silverstone ultimately came as little surprise - particularly to Ferrari's Leclerc.
"I expected Mercedes to be the team to beat this weekend and they confirmed that today," said P2's third-fastest runner. "They are the team to beat. Very, very quick during the race pace and we need to work."
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth fastest, added: "The bigger picture today it was too many jumps for us up and down, Mercedes still looks very fast and the ones to beat so we will see where we will be [on Saturday]."
But, as is often the case after the early stages of a race weekend as teams run their cars in differing settings, the picture is not necessarily clear-cut yet.
"On the Friday it's always difficult to say as Ferrari always turn their engines down, or whatever it may be, and then Saturday they pick up their pace," warned Hamilton. "So we shall see."
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