Updated: Feb 28
Written by Ive Bauk, edited by Harshi Vashee
With Hamilton’s grid drop, Red Bull’s new one off livery and Ferrari showing some great pace we are in for a treat this weekend. My topic in this article however, is raw pace in Friday free practices.
In FP1 we saw Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen with a healthy margin of 4 tenths of a second, not really a good sign for all of those Max fans out there. However, just after FP1, news came about Hamilton taking an engine penalty. This means that Hamilton will be the one that is limiting the damage this race. This move was expected to happen in one of later races where Red Bulls were to have the upper hand so this news caught quite a few people off guard. It could mean that Mercedes’ power units were wearing down faster than Mercedes so therefore we could expect some more grid penalties for other Mercedes powered teams.
Considering sector times, in FP1, Hamilton got the most time over Max in the first sector which demands the most downforce from the cars. Max was still slower in the last sector, which is mostly straights, but by a much smaller margin. Comparing Hamilton’s lap to Leclerc’s, we can again see that slower corners are Hamilton’s strong point. If we compare Hamilton’s laps to literally any driver on the grid, everyone loses the smallest amount of time in the last sector which could mean that Hamilton might struggle overtaking and hammering through traffic.
It’s worth mentioning that Perez showed up to FP2 with a much slimmer, so-called banana wing, which creates less drag.
In the midfield fight, this Friday we are witnessing Ferrari as the best of the rest with Mclaren lacking by quite a bit (Norris behind Leclerc by 5-7 tenths of a second). Alpine is also showing great pace, especially Ocon, so we could see them putting pressure on the Mclarens. Gasly is also again in the mix for good points.
Lastly, outside the fight for points, Aston Martin and Tsunoda are going to be accompanied by Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas respectively. Russell and Giovinazzi are potential surprises as Russell finished 11th in FP1 and Giovinazzi finished 10th in FP2 after which he said that he is confident about Q3 placing.