Category Archives: Lewis Hamilton

Formula One: Silly Season revisited

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The 2016 silly season on the face of it has turned out to be some what of a damp squib. With Mercedes, Ferrari, & Red Bull locking down their drivers early on change at the front of the field has been ruled out

Back in May this year I made a few predictions around changes. As the F1 circus returns from a well deserved summer break, outstanding driver agreements will feature highly on many teams ‘to do’ lists. Based on the current driver market I’ve revisited my silly season predictions. It’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below or through twitter (@jonnywilde)

Mercedes AMG Petronas:

As predicted Nico Rosberg’s contract with the team has been renewed. This comes despite a number of incidents between Nico & Lewis on track. Rosberg now has a contract with Mercedes until 2018. This sees his agreement fall in line with Hamilton’s contract. If nothing else, salary demands of Lewis and Nico by 2018 are likely to necessitate a change in line up. With this in mind Mercedes are priming Wehrlein and Ocon as future works drivers.

 Scuderia Ferrari:

Many expected the Scuderia to replace Kimi Räikkönen in 2017, I suggested Sergio Perez would be the ideal candidate to take on the role, but with a strong first half of the year Ferrari have elected to maintain the Vettel, Räikkönen line up for a 3rd season. Kimi’s life away from the track appears to be having a positive effect on his performance as a driver and as a Ferrari brand ambassador. With changes in the Ferrari management team, driver stability for 2017 and perhaps beyond could be a good thing.

Red Bull Racing

At the time of writing my original silly season article, I commented Verstappen was a shoe in for the second seat with Red Bull Racing alongside Daniel Ricciardo. I also suggested it could happen before the end of the year. I did not expect it happen so quickly. Nor did I expect Max to win a race in 2016! (did anyone?) Both Daniel and Max are now locked down at Red Bull Racing until at least 2018. Putting the Red Bull Racing Junior Driver Development programme on hold.

Williams Martini Racing

2016 has been tough for Williams. The team have fallen behind in the development race, possibly / hopefully due to an early switch in focus to 2017. With engine performance convergence emerging, budget shortfalls in comparison to the top 3 have been felt more than in recent seasons. It seems to be widely expected that 2016 will be Felipe Massa’s last year in F1, with this in mind Botta’s performances haven’t been strong enough. I suggested in the previous article that Kyvat and Bottas’ would be a formidable line up for the team. I now see this as less likely. I struggle to buy into the Button return narrative, but can imagine sponsors would be more than happy to see him re-join the team. That being said if Williams adopt a bold strategy they could look towards development driver Alex Lynn, and replace Bottas with Jenson. If they require funding alongside a driver, Perez could be attractive, although this would be nothing more than a lateral move for the Mexican.

Mclaren Honda

Jenson Button is out of contact at the end of this season. Fernando Alonso is contracted until the end of 2017. The team have Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings. I expected Jenson to leave the team at the end of the season, If the 2017 Mclaren Honda is not in a championship contending position I also see Alonso finally calling time on his F1 career. Stoffel will step up into a race seat with the team for 2017, but who will he race along side? Whilst the original Mclaren Perez relationship did not end well in 2013. Sergio brings substantial backing and has consistently over delivered for Force India. Could he be an outside bet for a seat with Mclaren? The team has the manufacturer backing Perez’s sees as a must to contend for future championships.  With the top team drives locked down, Honda or Renault are his next best bet.

Sarhara Force India

Vijay Mallya has gone on record to state both drivers will be retained for 2017. I do not see this happening. As mentioned above I believe Sergio will move on to pastures new. To me the same logic applies to Hülkenberg. Neither driver is going to contend for championships with Force India. Neither driver is getting any younger. I believe Hülkenberg will move away from F1 towards WEC in 2017. This leaves Force India will a huge budget and talent shortfall. The team may look towards Mercedes and taking on a development driver in the form of Pascal Wehrlein for 2017, who on circuits with which he has prior knowledge has looked very impressive at Manor this season. The team could overcome the budget shortfall and maintain the Mexican links with the team through promoting Alfonso Celis or picking up Esteban Gutiérrez after his tough return to the sport with Haas. Equally, the team have Russian driver Nikita Mazepin on their books, he brings backing in the form of Uralchem and whilst a little hot tempered has performed strongly in junior series.

Renault

2016 was always a holding / building year for the team. They inherited a driver partnership with Jolyon Palmer and to be honest, he has looked a little out of his depth at times this season. I don’t expect the team to retain him. Renault are keen to re-establish the French connection with the team. Assuming Ocon performs well at Manor in the second half of this season I expect him to move over the Renault for 2017. Renault will be keen for the French man to sever his links to Mercedes moving forward and will likely be prepared to pay for the privilege. The other seat at Renault, to me, is between Kevin Magnesun and Sergio Perez. The team know KMag, and know what he can do with the car, but in Perez they have a driver capable of over achieving and a driver with significant backing and a huge fan base. Perez and Ocon would be a strong line up for a team rebuilding and looking to challenge for future championships.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

I expect the driver line up of Sainz and Kyvat to go unchanged into 2017. Sainz was confirmed earlier in the season, his role is secure. With Kyvat the story is a little different, he has struggled since returning to the team from Red Bull Racing. His ultimate pace and skill are not in question. The team must work with him to rebuild his self confidence. STR has historically been the home of junior Red Bull drivers. Pierre Gasly would be the logical driver to make the step up to the team in 2017, but I personally see Red Bull placing him else where, possibly with Manor. STR in order to grow should no longer be seen as a proving ground for future Red Bull Racing drivers and with the current line up at RBR locked down until 2018, STR have an opportunity to operate as their own entity.

The Haas F1 Team

After an incredible start in F1, Haas have settled in a midfield team. I expect 2017 will be a huge challenge for the team. With major regulations changes and the team no longer having such unregulated support from Ferrari I expect them to be battling at the very rear of the field. Grosjean appears to have very few options away from the team, that being said a return to Renault should not be ruled out. For Haas to bring F1 to America they would do very well to sign Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi for 2017 alongside Grojean. I expect Esteban Gutiérrez to move on.

The Sauber F1 Team

With the future of the team secure through Longbow Finances. The Swiss based team can look towards rebuilding themselves. Security in reality has come a little too late to kick start a 2017 challenge into anything more than a return to consistent points finishes, but this is a great place to start. Stories continue to swirl around Marcus Ericsson’s backers being behind the Longbow Finance investment into the team. My personal take is that even if this is true I do not believe the backing is linked to Ericsson maintaining a drive with the team. Investments are made with an expectation of return not simply to pay for a drive. That being said I hope the team will maintain their current line up into 2017. Stability during a period of rebuilding is key, and it should not be forgotten both Nasr and Ericsson are more than capable of turning in strong performances.

Manor Racing

The Manor Racing team have a history of announcing driver partnerships very late on into the year. Rio Haryanto’s mid season demotion to reserve driver demonstrate the continued reliance on drivers with backing. I expect the team will be keen to maintain a development driver relationship to a larger team, be that with Pascal Wehrlein and Mercedes or Gasly and Red Bull Racing (despite the Mercedes power unit agreement) The second seat at Manor, I believe will be taken by Jordan King. He has performed admirably in GP2 this season with Racing Engineering and brings a healthy budget to his seat. It should not be forgotten his father supported the team in their re-emergence from bankruptcy.

Spa, Monza and Singapore have a history of being a circuit in which driver announcements are made, expect significant news in the coming weeks.

 

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Formula One: Why neither Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg want to win in Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton heads into the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend only one point behind his teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg. As teams head toward the mid season break, with 9 wins between them the drivers have dominated the 2016 championship. However, if either of them want to translate their success into the world championship, history suggests they do not want to win the Hungarian Grand Prix this Sunday.

The Hungarian Grand Prix has developed somewhat of a reputation for producing unexpected race results. In fact, not since the 2004 Grand Prix has the winner in Hungary gone on to lay claim to the World Championship. What’s more only twice in that period has the championship winning constructor sealed victory in Hungary.

The circuit is often referred to as an oversized go karting track with minimal straights and extremely limited overtaking opportunities. A Monaco without the yachts. On paper the circuit should lend itself to the strengths of the Red Bull Racing duo. That being said, the Hungarian Circuit has been entirely resurfaced for 2016, we saw in Baku that Red Bull Racing appear to struggle with tyre performance on a fresh tarmac. This may play into the hands of Scuderia Ferrari who are yet to seal a victory in 2016. With rumours of increasing senior management pressures a win in Hungary would go a long way for the team. Sebastian Vettel secured his second victory for the Scuderia around the circuit in 2015.

The European summer has officially kicked into high gear over the past week, with this weather forecasts for Friday and Saturday in Hungary suggest a scorcher, however with heat in Europe, comes storms, long range forecasts suggest the race on Sunday could be interrupted by heavy rain. If this proves to be the case the drivers at Scuderia Toro Rosso, and previous race winner Jenson Button could spring a surprise.

Formula One: Pit stop time vs. Pit lane times

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Since the start of the 2016 Formula One World Championship DHL have been awarding teams for the fastest pit stop to take place during each F1 race. Until the British Grand Prix this accolade had been reserved for the Williams F1 Team but does fastest pit stop time tell the full story?

A 1.9 second pit stop (an accolade recently achieved by the Williams F1 team) may look fantastic on paper, but what speed was the driver doing when he entered the pit box? How much time was lost in ensuring he hit his marks perfectly? Changing tyres, adjusting front wings, cleaning visors and removing debris from sidepod’s, whilst exceptionally complicated and highly choreographed is only part of the pit stop process.  A more relevant or more complete measure of a team’s success during a pit stop is the total pit lane time.  The Mercedes AMG Petronas Pure Storage Pitwall launched at the British Grand Prix, within this dashboard are details of the top 10 fastest pit lane times through a race. If you compare the DHL fastest pit stop award to the fastest pit stop times you can some very different results.

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Taking this one step further the fastest pit lane time does not consider when the driver activates or de-activates their pit lane limiter, to build this into the calculation you need to consider the total time over of an inlap and an outlap. The issue with then comparing data of this nature between teams is that you have to consider outright vehicle performance. Which raises the question of what is the purpose of the award? If it is to award the out and out fastest team, that is covered through the actual race winner! If it’s to award an element of the race in which the team plays a more significant role maybe the fastest pit stop is appropriate, but is it actually relevant to the race?

As you will see in the video below from Mercedes AMG Petronas, with a focus on race wins, the team would rather have a steady pit stop which may by 3-5 tenths slower than the fastest pit stop, they focus on minimising errors in the pit stop process and optimising the vehicle entry and exit from the pit lane.

Finally, kudos to the Renault Sport F1 team for achieving the fastest pit lane time during the British Grand Prix.

You can follow the Hungarian Grand Prix through the Pure Storage Pitwall here

Formula One: Lewis becomes the bookies favourite for the 2016 WDC

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After securing back to back victories the Austrian and British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has become the bookies favourite to secure the 2016 Formula One World Championship. This despite a 1 point deficit to team mate Nico Rosberg in the current standings and having no fresh engines available for the remainder of the season without having to take grid penalties.

William Hill are currently offering odds of 1/3 for Lewis Hamilton to secure his 4th World Championship, with odds on Nico Rosberg taking the crown at 9/4. Such odds from bookmakers echo comments from the likes of Bernie Ecclestone and Jackie Stewart commenting:

“I think Lewis will win,” Said Ecclestone  “I don’t mean to say that it would be better for Formula 1, or that it’s anything bad about Nico. I would just put my money on Lewis.”

“Lewis will be champion again. There is no doubt. He is simply the best and especially the fastest driver in the field.” Joined Stewart.

There is a feeling in the paddock that the tide has turned in the 2016 Championship battle. Mercedes AMG Petronas are working with Lewis to minimise the impact of looming engine penalties, seeking to extend the life of his final power unit to a track in which taking a fresh engine and subsequent penalty will be minimised. It is likely the team will take a double penalty (introduce two engines on a single wkd) at a race such as Monza or Spa where they can expect to dominate.

For more odds from William Hill on the 2016 F1 Championship Challenge click here

Formula One: Mercedes AMG Petronas launch the Pure Pit Wall with Pure Storage

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Mercedes AMG Petronas technical partner Pure Storage will, this weekend, launch a second screen dashboard for the Formula One super fan. The  Pure Pit Wall brings fans one step closer to the sport through sharing real time information on a number of data points as the race takes place.

Developed in close collaboration with the Mercedes AMG Petronas technical team the dashboard will provide fans with a reference tool to monitor the performance of drivers in points scoring positions through the race. Users will be able to view data in infographic format elements such as tyre compound selection, stint length, fastest laps, and number of overtakes.  The dashboard also features data safety car periods and total time spent in pit lane. Data presented through the dashboard is provided in real-time making full use of the Pure Storage all flash storage solutions.

In addition to providing data points on progress through the race, Mercedes AMG Petronas have equipped the dashboard with real time access to team predictive software giving users direct access to the output of team analysis on the expected podium finishers of a race. A unique data point never previously made available to the public.

For the hardcore F1 fan this dashboard offers live insight into an F1 race as it progresses. It’s the perfect tool for any armchair strategist!

The Pure Storage Mercedes AMG Petronas Pure Pit Wall is available here.

Pure Storage will make the complete dashboard available for users to review following the conclusion of a race.

You can follow Pure Pit Wall on twitter here.

For more on the Pure Storage Mercedes AMG Petronas partnership see the below film:

Formula One: Lewis “It just felt epic”

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Lewis Hamiltons’ weekend could not have got off to a better start, topping the timesheets in both of the Free Practice sessions for the 2016 British Grand Prix.

Driver
Chassis No.
P1
P2
Lewis Hamilton
F1 W07 Hybrid/04
30 Laps
1:31.654
P1
36 Laps
1:31.660
P1
Nico Rosberg
F1 W07 Hybrid/05
34 Laps
1:31.687
P2
0 Laps
No Time Set
P22

Lewis Hamilton
It’s been a great first day. Lots of positive steps forward with the balance of the car. It’s incredibly gusty out there, which is one of the awesome challenges of this circuit. Coming through Maggots and Becketts then down through Stowe, I was actually yelling in my helmet, it’s that exciting! What a great combination of corners – particularly when the wind is blowing in the right direction. Today we had a bit of a head wind and it just felt epic through there – one of the most fun rollercoaster rides you can imagine. We’ve still got work to do as our ultimate pace could be better. But the long run was good, so if we can keep the car in that window we’ll be in a strong position.

Nico Rosberg
I had a good morning session. It looks like we are quickest out there and that it will be a good battle between me and Lewis. It’s a shame that I wasn´t able to have a run in the afternoon – but I’m sure we can fix the problems by tomorrow morning. I will see what Lewis learned today and try to adapt this for tomorrow and Sunday. It’s great to see that there are so many passionate fans out there and I know a lot of team members from the factories are here too, so I hope they have a fantastic weekend and we can put on a good show for them.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It’s great to be back at Silverstone in front of so many enthusiastic fans – including many from Brackley and Brixworth who get to see their hard work in action out on track today. We ran through a very good programme in FP1 on the medium tyre without any issues. Unfortunately, however, it became clear shortly before FP2 began that there was a water leak on Nico’s car. We were optimistic of a quick fix initially but, after further checks, we opted against running the risk of losing an engine from the pool. We will be looking into that overnight to understand what happened and our apologies to Nico for losing him some important running time this afternoon. On Lewis’ side we managed a very strong programme on the medium and soft tyre, on both high and low fuel, gathering all the information we needed for the race on Sunday. We have plenty of work to do this evening but we’re looking forward to what should be a closely contested battle over the weekend.

Formula One: Sponsor in Profile – UBS

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Swiss Bank UBS are a key partner within Formula One. Working directly with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team and with Formula One Management the bank is heavily invested in the sport and will continue to be for some time to come. In an exclusive interview for JWGP, we explore what initially attracted UBS to the sport, how they measure success, and the future direction of the partnership and the sport in general.

A key point of interest in this interview is around the audience UBS are targeting or seeking to attract with the partnership. Whilst other banking partners within Formula One use the sport as a platform to attract a diverse audience, the UBS approach is geared heavily towards its Wealth Management customers and the audience demographic in that sector. This focused approach explains in some way why despite being one of the more significant partners to the Mercedes AMG Petronas team in terms of investment, branding on the car and with drivers is minimal.

  • What initially attracted UBS to F1?

Formula 1 is a global sport that attracts over 400m unique viewers every season. It operates for nearly 12 months of the year and touches all major markets that UBS operate in

  • Can you provide a background into how the UBS FOM and Mercedes Deal came about?

UBS entered Formula 1 in 2010 as a Global Partner, and has grown and diversified its investments in the sport since then. Formula 1 provides UBS with global brand awareness, an ability to invest in the creation of deeper client relationships through at-track client programs around the world, and a platform to both amplify brand stature and change brand perceptions. By adding the partnerships with the MERCEDESAMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and ex-Formula 1 legends, such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Mika Hӓkkinen and David Coulthard, UBS create and deliver truly unique at-track experiences for their clients. By working together with Formula 1 experts, such as James Allen, UBS produces engaging content that drives social media campaigns around topics such as strategy and insight. Further Formula 1 insiders such as Susie Wolff were also included to add even greater depth, diversity and appeal to the program.

  • What is the target audience for the UBS F1 engagement model from a social media, print & online media, branding, and hospitality perspective?

The key audience is UBS Wealth Management customers, who can be classified into existing and new clients. On the one hand we aim to increase brand visibility in our key markets and on the other we try to enhance brand relevance by distributing insightful content to our target audience. The distribution of this content is purely via digital and social channels. Looking at the hospitality, it focuses more on existing clients, who are invited to a select number of events where we try to give exclusive access to the sport, the drivers and our ambassadors.

  • The use of UBS branding within Formula One and the Mercedes AMG Petronas team is minimal. With limited on track signage and team branding featuring only on drivers and pit areas. Can you explain why, despite significant investment UBS have taken this route?

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The partnership with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One team provides UBS with the opportunity to create truly unique at track experiences, as well as access to the team and their star drivers for content.

  • What key performance indicators (KPI’s) do UBS have around the respective partnerships?

KPIs are set alongside the strategy, and continue to evolve year by year – metrics such as client satisfaction, brand exposure and brand equity all feed into an analysis of success.

  • Have experiences from the F1 world influenced any aspect of UBS or vice versa?

It would be hard to say if there has been any direct influence, but UBS and Formula 1 share common traits. And these similarities are what UBS enjoys exploring for the fans and followers of the sport. Traits such as strategy, insight and thought leadership are common to both UBS and Formula 1 teams and the series.

  • How would UBS assess the 2016 season so far?

As a partner of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One team we are pleased with the team’s success so far. With the top teams hot on their heels, it promises to become an exciting season.

  • What’s next for UBS with Formula One Management and Mercedes AMG Petronas?

The experiential and content plans for 2016 are very exciting. UBS will continue to deliver insights into the sport, the strategies for success and how Formula 1 is pushing the boundaries in numerous disciplines to as broad an audience as possible.

  • What is your view on the move of F1 coverage towards on the pay TV trend for F1 coverage in Europe?

The commercial side of the series has pursued a trend of moving from free-to-air broadcasting to pay-tv. This is a business decision which we cannot comment on. However, with the growth of social media in recent years, we feel more people than ever are watching the sport, commenting on it or are aware of race results.

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The UBS relationship to Formula One as a partner is an interesting one. The bank has committed to a strategy of using the sport as a platform to reward and attract the wealthy.  With the agreement heading into it’s 7th year it is clear all parties involved are seeing a return on the relationship. As a prestigious brand involved in the sport similar to Rolex, Chandon, or Emirates. UBS through their social media and digital interactions have developed a profile as an aspirational partner, the banking partner fans will think of when they reach a certain level of financial wealth in their private lives. They do this at the same time as rewarding those who have already achieved such success in a way which ensures customer loyalty.

It would be interesting to hear from other partners in the sport taking a similar approach.

Formula One: All the stats and tyre facts from the Canadian Grand Prix

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The Canadian Grand Prix got underway in some of the coldest conditions seen recently during a race weekend, with track temperatures of just 20 degrees centigrade: putting the accent on tyre warm-up and management. There was a wide variety of one and two stop strategies, with polesitter Lewis Hamilton stopping just once in his Mercedes, but holding off the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, which stopped twice, having beaten Hamilton off the line to lead into the first corner.

Hamilton made his sole stop on lap 24, re-emerging in second place behind Vettel. Once Vettel made his second stop, he had a six-second deficit to try and make up to Hamilton in 33 laps, using soft tyres that were 13 laps younger than those on the Mercedes.

Despite the cold conditions, Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race on the soft tyre, 10 laps from the end, lapping his Mercedes 1.4 seconds quicker than the 2015 fastest lap, which was set on supersoft.

Valtteri Bottas took the first podium of the season for Williams by using a similar strategy to Hamilton, while the remainder of the top 10 stopped twice, after starting on the ultrasoft – the fastest compound by around 0.6s per lap.

An alternative strategy was run by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who started on the soft tyre and completed a long first stint of 31 laps before making his sole stop for supersofts. The most impressive climber was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who used a two-stop strategy (finishing the race on the rapid ultrasoft) to end up ninth, after starting 20th on the grid.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Thanks to differing race strategies, we saw a grandstand finish, with the two-stopping Vettel closing in on the one-stopping Hamilton. Cool track temperatures made tyre management crucial, with some teams also switching strategies as it became clear that this might be quicker. Most drivers in fact stopped twice, compared to the one-stop race last year in Canada. Key to making a one-stopper work was looking after the tyres as effectively as possible, which Hamilton and Bottas both did brilliantly.”

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Formula One: VIDEO Rosberg – Massively Frustrated

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Heading home a mere 2 hours after the conclusion of the Canadian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg talks through a frustrating race which saw him come home in 5th place. With team mate Lewis Hamilton winning the race, Nico’s championship lead has now been reduced to only 9 points.

Rosberg talks through what he felt was an aggressive move from Lewis at the start into turn one, which forced Nico to possibly work stress the W07 in order to maximise results for the day. This lead to issues with braking, excessive tyre wear and running extremely low on fuel in the closing stages of the event. In conclusion a massively frustrating race.

Nico will now have two days at home before ahead out to Baku for the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe.

Formula One: Lewis “It’s been an awesome day”

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Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, along with Technical Director Paddy Lowe offer their thoughts on FP1 & 2 from Montreal:

Lewis Hamilton
It’s been an awesome day. This has always been a strong circuit for me and I’m really enjoying being back here again. I’ve generally been really happy with the car so far. The focus today has been on working hard to make sure we have a good understanding of the tyres. I’m enjoying myself and hoping the weather stays like this over the weekend for all the fans out there in the grandstands.”
Nico Rosberg
“Generally I feel good in the car. But getting the tyres working is not so straightforward here, so that needs some further analysis tonight. I lost most of my time in the first sector – possibly because of tyre temperatures. So, that part of the lap is the main area to work on and find some improvement for qualifying. The long runs have looked good so far, though. It’s been great to see so many spectators out there already today and I’m sure there will be an awesome atmosphere over the weekend.”
Paddy Lowe
“It’s great to have some decent weather after freezing conditions yesterday – particularly for the fans, who have come out in their thousands. The main interest of the day was to see how the three different tyre compounds functioned on low and high fuel. We managed to complete our programme without any major issues and both drivers are fairly happy with the balance of the car. It’s difficult to compare lap times precisely with everybody running slightly different programmes – but our performance looks reasonably strong. We’ve still got a lot to do to be fully prepared for qualifying – and in a shorter timescale than normal too. We’ve had normal running hours today – but curfew begins an hour earlier tonight, as we lose an hour tomorrow with the early start to FP3 and Qualifying. The team in the garage have a tough evening ahead to get the cars prepared.”