• Mercedes Kicks Off Second Half of the Season at Spa-Francorchamps

A busy practice day for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team as F1 returned to action at Spa-Francorchamps

  • Valtteri was fastest in FP1, while Lewis finished P18 after he was held up into the final chicane on his Quali simulation on the Soft tyre.
  • Rain before FP1 prompted an exploratory install lap on Inters, before swiftly switching to Slick tyres, where the focus was on long runs and investigating balance options.
  • It was P2 for Valtteri in the second practice session, with Lewis close behind. Just 0.072s separated the top three drivers in FP2.
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Valtteri Bottas

Everything felt pretty good out there today. As we saw from the timesheets, it’s going to be very close with Red Bull once again so we’ll look into the detail tonight and see what marginal gains we can find. The pace on both the short and the long runs was pretty decent. It’s always tricky to compare in detail from the practice sessions, but at least the feeling is good, so that is a positive start to the weekend. We looked quite fast on the straights with the wing level we ran and in the race, it’ll be important for me to be quick in sectors one and three, to make the overtakes. But then, if it rains, you want more downforce. So, session by session, we need to see how it is going to look. That decision will be key for Qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton

Finding the right balance here is a big challenge. In FP1, we tried one way, and then we changed it this afternoon. The pace was quite similar - you try one option, and you are faster in the first and third sectors, but slower in the middle. And then you try the other option and it’s the opposite. So, figuring out the right balance is really tricky. It’s also tough to gain knowledge in these short sessions but we’re navigating it the best we can and at least it was dry for most of the running. Overall, it was an okay day, but I didn’t quite have the car underneath me, so we’ve got some work to do tonight to figure that out. The weather is also going to play a big role. If it does rain, you obviously want more downforce, but then if it doesn’t rain, you are a sitting duck on the straights. So we have to be very careful with the changes we make.

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Andrew Shovlin

We’ve had a pretty clean day overall. It’s often tricky on Friday here with the long lap and unpredictable weather but we’ve made good use of the sessions and have ended up with a reasonable balance. It’s hard to know quite where we stand; the circuit is very power sensitive so going up and down on modes can give big swings in lap time but the car seems to be working as it should and it looks like we’re there or thereabouts on pace. There’s a bit more to find on the balance and Lewis had some vibrations on the long run that won’t have helped but hopefully we can make some further progress with the car overnight. We’re expecting more of the same from the weather over the rest of the weekend, it’s quite hard to read more than 30 minutes into the future so planning qualifying and the race could be tricky but it’s not unusual to be in that position here.