British GP – Silverstone: Free Practice 1 & 2 Washout!

There was no meaningful running in free practice on Friday as persistent rain fell on the Northamptonshire circuit. Many fans couldn’t even make it into the circuit because of the conditions; many fans were stuck in their cars as both practice sessions took place. Silverstone’s car parks were reduced to a muddy mess, more reminiscent of a music festival than a racetrack! Silverstone management has apologised and offered full refunds to the people that didn’t manage to make it into the circuit. And even worse; Silverstone MD, Richard Phillips has asked people to stay away for Saturday’s free practice and qualifying sessions. Very poor planing by the Silverstone management team, given the sell out crowd and unpredictable British summertime weather!

On the track; Lotus’ Romain Grosjean topped the timesheets in free practice 1; setting a time of 1:56.552; some 20 seconds off an average lap time around Silverstone; and that lap time was set in relatively good conditions. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo set the second fastest lap, 0.275 seconds behind, followed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton 0.622 behind Grosjean. All this means very little; nothing was learned about set-up in the tricky conditions! The other Britons; Jenson Button finished the session in 17th and Paul di Resta didn’t complete a timed lap during the session!

Lewis Hamilton finished the second session at the top of the timesheets with a time of 1:56.345; marginally faster than Grosjean’s first practice time, still a country mile off a dry lap time. Saubers’ Kamui Kobayashi finished the session in second place; 0.129 seconds behind the McLaren with Michael Schumacher claiming the third best time in his Mercedes exactly two tenths off Hamilton’s time. Again none of these times mean anything as most teams sat out the majority of the session. Britain’s Lewis Hamilton even took a wander down the pitlane to alleviate his boredom! As to the other Britons; Button finished the session in sixth place; a massive 1.603 off his team mates time while di Resta finished the session a humongous +3.084 off the lead time in 11th!

Jenson Button described the conditions in practice as ‘scary’ and ‘treacherous’; going onto say that if these conditions continue, he expects the race to be called off on Sunday. I hope that the race happens; otherwise it’ll prove what a sanitised Health & Safety sport F1 has become. I remember races taking place in much worse conditions without a single complaint from a driver. My view is that these drivers get paid several million $/£/€ every year; man up and give the spectators what they paid 100s of pounds to see; let’s not make Silverstone 2012 a bigger farce than it already is!

I think that the BBC’s technical analyst Gary Anderson summed up Friday perfectly “The only thing we learnt today is that if you stand in the middle of the pit-lane, you’ll get wet”.

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