Dan Ricciardo braves a damp squib to top FP1
Mexican waves were the order of the day at Silverstone, but it wasn’t in response to heroics but the threadbare on track action due to inclement weather limiting running to a miserable four laps until ten minutes to go – but then it wouldn’t be Silverstone without it!
Some large updates for McLaren were brought to the track in the vain hope of salvaging a decent result at the home grand prix, while the Lotus F1 Team were keen to test Drag Reduction Device’s via inlets on either side of the air box. Williams too were debuting a new front wing, but completed no more than an installation lap.
The spray was so bad that yellow flags were raised without any perceivable obstructions on track with most drivers completing an installation lap before returning to the pits. Those yet to make an appearance were the three drivers competing for Mark Webber’s seat at Red Bull next year – no doubt engaging in a rousing game of “two man enter, one man leave”… I mean backgammon with Bernie. Certainly with the lack of track activity meant most drivers would be amusing themselves in some other fashion.
James Rossiter was one who was left ruing the amount of precipitation, effectively dashing any hopes of gaining some early information before the Young Driver tests. Still, an installation lap was all the Oxford hot-shoe could achieve thirty minutes into the water shod session.
Oddly, with Alonso mentioning Ferrari’s wet-weather pace was lacking this year, one would’ve expected Fernando making the most of the moistened circuit to gather data; one only has to remember Michael Schumacher as the sole man on track during Ferrari’s growing pain period to realize hay can definitely be made where others fear to tread.
One such missed testing opportunity lost without going out would be how to execute DRS whilst following another competitor closely in high-spray conditions – a risky proposition in practice for sure, but one which all drivers might have to find out at some point over the course of the weekend… Add to that the level of tv exposure on offer for some of the lower teams.
Jenson Button expressed more concern about standing water catching out drivers, ruling out any risk taking for McLaren during this session, but with new parts waiting to be tested it must’ve been frustrating being behind the eight-ball – if not for the thousands of fans who made the trek for very little action.
Daniel Ricciardo broke the silence by appearing on track; ironically a Torro Rosso putting on a show for the fans just as they did at Suzuka during torrential rain in 2010. With extreme wets, Ricciardo was effectively playing both guinea pig and hair-dryer whilst the West-Australian’s colleagues cooled their heels in pit-lane. Daniel took the unconventional line through Stowe trying to find grip and dissipate as much water as possible with forty-five minutes left of running.
Esteban Gutierrez was next to try his hand; the Monterrey rocket recording an incredible four laps in the Sauber with half an hour left to run. Just as all seemed lost, one S. Vettel fired up his RB9 and ventured on track – for an exploratory session at the very least. Sure enough the three-time World champion was back into the pits.
Ricciardo then decided completing a time was the order of the day. Short-shifting through Copse his Torro-Rosso experienced some nervous moments amidst the standing water; the crowd giving him a standing ovation as he coaxed his way out of the Woodcote to finally record a time of 1.57:99. This instigated a spate of drivers heading out on track with Jules Bianchi leading the way followed by Vettel and Alonso, Hamilton and Hulkenberg.
Hamilton immediately went fastest with a mid 1:55 lap, however Charles Pic came to grief exiting the final corner – tearing the front off his Caterham as he made acquaintances with the barrier. Bottas too was lucky to save a hairy moment at turn 4. However Ricciardo’s early runs came to fruition as he humped to the top of the timesheets at the end of session; a small but early shot across the bows of Vergne and Raikkonen in the race for the #2 seat at Red Bull.
|8||van der Garde||Caterham||1’58.859|
|13||di Resta||Force India||-|
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, former V8 race coach and FIA Accredited journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A former Race Editor for GP Week and contributor for ESPN, Trent is now the Editor of the WEC/Formula E magazine E-Racing; www.e-racingmag.com