SILVERSTONE, United Kingdom: Lewis Hamilton took full advantage of the absence of his Mercedes teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg to top the times in Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) second practice for the British Grand Prix.
The defending three-time world champion dominated the session while the German, who holds an 11-point lead over him in this year’s title race, was left on the sidelines as his car was dismantled for repairs in the team garage.
Rosberg’s misfortune allowed the Red Bulls of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen to shine during a warm and sunny session at Silverstone as they took second and third places.
Hamilton, whose relations with Rosberg hit a fresh low when they collided in Austria last
week, was fastest with a best lap in one minute and 31.660 seconds, as all the leading drivers switched to soft tyres in improved warmer conditions.
Hamilton revealed afterwards that he enjoys racing on his home Silverstone track so much that he screams aloud while he is whizzing around the circuit.
“It’s been a great first day, lots of positive steps forward with the balance of the car,” said the 31-year-old Hamilton.
“It’s incredibly gusty out there, which is one of the awesome challenges of this circuit.
“Coming through Maggots and Becketts [corners], 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.”
Hamilton had been fastest in the morning session, narrowly ahead of rival Rosberg, and continued to make solid progress with his preparations for Sunday’s race when he seeks to complete a hat-trick of consecutive victories.
Rosberg, who should be back for third practice and qualifying on Saturday, said he was anticipating another tense battle with Hamilton.
“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,” said the German.
“I will see what Lewis learned today and try to adapt this for tomorrow and Sunday.”
Four-time world champion German Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was confirmed as remaining with the Italians for 2017, wound up in fourth and fifth places ahead of a resurgent Fernando Alonso.
The two-time champion Spaniard proved that he and McLaren are making rapid progress and have improved dramatically since their forlorn display at last year’s British race.
Finn Valtteri Bottas was seventh for Williams ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean in the leading Haas car, the 2009 champion Jenson Button in the second McLaren and Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Williams.
Button’s progress was hampered by power unit problems and he completed only 20 laps before being called in to the pits by the team, while Raikkonen survived a dramatic off-track excursion at Becketts corner.