The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team tops the timesheets in dry FP1, before limited running in wet FP2.
Lewis set the pace in the morning session, with Valtteri just 0.086s behind in P2.
Valtteri finished P2 in the rain-affected afternoon session, while Lewis was classified P16 after not setting a timed lap.
The team focused on single-lap and long-run performance in FP1, before completing only a handful of laps in the wet FP2 – in order to save tyres for later in the weekend.
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F1 W11 EQ Performance /01
F1 W11 EQ Performance /03
We got everything done that we needed to in the first session. The car felt good out there in FP1 although there was still some work to do, so we made some changes for the second session – then it rained, so we’ve still got learning to do tomorrow. The wet conditions in FP2 didn’t really leave us with a lot to do, so we just completed an installation lap on the Intermediate tyres. This is such a great track to drive in the dry, but it’s very tricky in the wet and it felt quite low grip out there today. Looking ahead to Qualifying tomorrow, I think it is going to be a lot closer as it’s not such a power-dependent circuit. I’m hoping for a tighter pack, it’d be great to see the Renaults doing well, the McLarens are doing a fantastic job, as are the Racing Points, it’s really exciting to see. We also expect Red Bull to be strong, so I anticipate a tough battle with them.
The car didn’t feel too bad in the dry today in FP1. It seemed like we were in a good place balance-wise, although I was struggling with a bit of understeer but that can be fixed, and I think it wasn’t a bad start. Obviously, it would have been nice to get some more practice laps in during the afternoon, fine-tuning the balance more, but the conditions were the same for everyone. The grip level was pretty low in FP2 in the wet. I got to get a feel for the balance in those conditions and I tried both the Inter and Wet tyres. They both felt pretty similar. It looks like we’ll see more rain this weekend so I’m sure we can keep working on the car and doing a better job, before qualifying and the race.
The first session was pretty good. We ran an unusual tyre order with the soft tyres first and the harder tyres second. That was driven by the fact we were most interested in the long-run information on Medium and Hard and with a wet second practice on our forecast, it seemed the best way to be sure of getting the data we needed. The car was working well; both drivers were happy with the balance on Soft and it was quite easy to bring the tyres in. We thought we’d look quick on those runs by virtue of being on softer rubber than our competitors. However, it was a bit surprising how competitive we were on the second runs. With Lewis on the Hard tyre and Valtteri on the Medium, they were both able to beat their previous times and ended up first and second in the order. You never know fuel loads and Power Unit modes until Qualifying, but we do look to have made a decent start. The long-run pace seemed fine and as we’d seen last year, the Soft doesn’t look like a great race tyre. The second session wasn’t great for learning. With Valtteri we checked out the Wet tyre but didn’t want to put many laps on it. Both cars then installed an Intermediate towards the end of the session so that they can carry it into final practice tomorrow. The weather looks quite unsettled for the remainder of the event which is going to keep everyone on their toes.