Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas drives during the British Grand Prix practice at Silverstone yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas narrowly edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton to end a dominant opening day of British Grand Prix practice for Mercedes at the top of the timesheets.
The Finn, winner of the last race in Austria, lapped the 5.8-kilometer long Silverstone circuit in one minute 28.496 seconds. He beat home hero Hamilton by just 0.047 seconds to the fastest time of the day after having also set the pace by a similar margin ahead of the Briton in the opening morning session.
Kimi Raikkonen, who survived a big off-track moment in the afternoon, lapped third-fastest ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel tests the new safety shield yesterday
While the Ferrari drivers were still some way off Mercedes’ pace, they were still closer to their German rivals than in the morning, when they had been over a second slower and behind the Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Red Bulls battle on
Verstappen still led Ricciardo, who is gunning for a sixth straight podium finish this weekend, in the afternoon with the pair fifth and sixth behind the two Ferraris.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh quickest in the Renault, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Williams and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, running an updated version of Honda’s engine.
Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten ahead of his Force India team’s home race. There were no major dramas during the session save for a few spins.
Drivers are having to contend with higher speeds at the Silverstone circuit due to the aerodynamic changes to the cars this year, with Bottas’ benchmark nearly a second quicker than last year’s pole position time.
Cockpit shield makes debut
All eyes were on Vettel’s Ferrari in the morning session as the German tried out the ‘shield’ cockpit protection system that involves a wraparound windscreen that aims to protect drivers’ heads from flying debris and loose wheels.
Some form of cockpit protection is set to be introduced next season, with the shield, which was run for the first time yesterday, having emerged as the preferred option over the halo concept that was trialled last year.
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