Jul 8, 2016
Friday’s opening practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit on Sunday saw the Formula One driving debut of Charles Leclerc. The 18-year-old is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and is currently competing in the GP3 Series for ART Grand Prix. Haas F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez, a Ferrari Driver Academy alumnus, relinquished his seat to allow Leclerc to obtain valuable Formula One experience.
Leclerc ran a total of 26 laps around the 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn track, the best of which came on his 24th lap (1:35.869). The 90-minute session was relatively straightforward for Leclerc, except for a spin in turn three on his eighth lap. He made a quick recovery and ended up 18th overall.
Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean ran a total of 24 laps in FP1 and secured his best time on his 15th lap (1:34.547) to place him 15th on the speed chart. He and Leclerc ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire.
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg paced the 22-driver field, finishing 1-2 in FP1. Hamilton’s quick time of 1:31.654 was .033 of a second better than Rosberg, while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was .838 of a second behind Hamilton in third.
FP2 began with something that had yet to be seen by drivers and teams at Silverstone – the sun. Overcast conditions were present for FP1, leaving the air a cool 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit). The sun warmed up FP2 dramatically, with the temperature rising to 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). This raised the track temperature too, from a range of 18-23 degrees Celsius (64-73 degrees Fahrenheit) in FP1 to 33-39 degrees Celsius (91-102 degrees Fahrenheit) in FP2. Another added variable was the wind, with FP2 breezier than FP1
Gutiérrez was back behind the wheel of his racecar for FP2. He made a total of 32 laps during the second, 90-minute practice, with his best time coming on his 13th lap (1:34.000) while shod on Pirelli P Zero Yellow softs. It put him 12th overall.
Grosjean improved on his performance from FP1, setting a quick time of 1:33.614 to place him eighth among the 21 drivers who participated in the session. He also turned 32 laps, with his fastest coming on his 11th tour, earned on a set of new Yellow softs.
The two drivers differed in their tire selection for FP2. Grosjean began on a set of Pirelli P Zero Orange hards. He put eight laps on those tires before opting for the Yellow softs. After five laps, he pitted for a used set of softs and made 12 circuits. A final, seven-lap run saw Grosjean return to the Orange hards. Gutiérrez, meanwhile, started on White mediums. After a 10-lap run, he switched to the Yellow softs for a five-lap stint. A used set of mediums carried the car for his final, 17-lap run.
Hamilton topped the time sheet in FP2, but his teammate, Rosberg, never turned a lap. While Hamilton again set fast time with a 1:31.660, Rosberg’s crew attended to a water leak. This allowed Daniel Ricciardo to earn the second-fastest time (1:32.051) with his Red Bull Racing teammate, Max Verstappen, in third, .626 of a second behind Hamilton.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 114 laps – 56 by Grosjean, 32 by Gutiérrez and 26 by Leclerc.
Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team
“It was a pretty good day evaluating the three different tire compounds. The car doesn’t feel too bad at high speed, which is great news for lapping at this track. We still need to find some performance in getting the tires to work. That will be the main job this evening when we go over everything from today’s two sessions.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team
“It was an easy morning for me not competing in FP1. I then started my programs for FP2, which was pretty positive from the laps we did and everything that we tried. Today gave us an opportunity to change the setup and send us in the right direction. So far, the car feels good. However, the conditions were tricky out there with the wind. We’ve got a bit of work to do, but we’ll be using all the data we’ve gathered from today to get the most out of car for tomorrow, especially for qualifying.”
Charles Leclerc, FP1 Driver, Haas F1 Team
“It’s been an amazing experience for my first time in a Formula One car. I was struggling quite a lot at the beginning, as Silverstone is quite a hard track with lots of high-speed corners, and I found the steering wheel quite stiff in comparison to anything I’ve driven before. However, it was a great session and lap after lap I gained confidence. The last run was on old tires, so we couldn’t show our real pace, but I think we were quite fast. We completed the program and that was the main aim, so I’m happy with that. It was probably one of the best days of my life, and to do it with Haas has been even more amazing.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
“Good sessions for us today. FP1 and FP2 went to plan and we completed our full program without any problems. Charles did a good job this morning in FP1. We must remember that this was his first time in an F1 car – under difficult conditions too, as the track was still a little damp. He did a good job and we got all the data we needed from his runs. Romain and Esteban also ran their programs, so we achieved everything we needed from their sessions to prepare for tomorrow. Esteban took the information that was gathered this morning and continued the tasks set. So overall, we’re looking positive for tomorrow. I hope FP3 goes as well as today has for us, and we’ll try to do the best we can for qualifying.”
Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (10:00-11:00) before qualifying starts at 13:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 16 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.