The new experimental format of Grand Prix being tested at this British GP for the first time (and that will be repeated, with possible changes, in Monza and Interlagos), it is changing absolutely everything, and that is that what was experienced on the track this Saturday in the second free practice is very different from what usually happens in previous free practice to the fight for pole in the usual format. During a ‘normal’ weekend, in these sessions the schedules are very clear, with the teams testing long-run race simulations with different tires and qualifying simulations to find a fast lap. But in this case, with qualifying to a lap already held on Friday, it didn’t make any sense to go for a fast lap and everyone worked long runs. For this reason, the classification of this second free practice session of the 2021 F1 British GP, should not be taken as representative, but must go further to find answers to everyone’s questions, although less than the usual ones.
The keys that can mark the sprint race of the F1 British GP
Can Verstappen beat Hamilton in qualifying and Sunday’s race? Will Lewis be able to defend himself against Max? Who will lead the middle zone? How will Alonso and Sainz do? The answers, as we have commented, are few because the gasoline loads with which the teams worked are unknown. Some were able to go more unloaded to simulate today’s 17-lap qualifying race, and others were able to go with more fuel to simulate the start of Sunday’s 53-lap race. And so they all focused on studying the performance of the tires on a very demanding asphalt for the tires in order to decide with which compounds to face the sprint race today and the long race tomorrow.
Final classification of free practice 2 of the F1 Great Britain GP 2021
Judging by what was seen in this second free practice session of the British GP, Max verstappen It seemed to have a lot more pace than the Mercedes, rolling like clockwork with great times on the medium tire, and improving with the passing of the turns, leaving a feeling of strength before the qualifying race. However, his teammate Pérez suffered blistering (blisters due to overheating of the rubber) on his right front tire in the theoretical last laps of his short race simulation, something that raises doubts as for Red Bull.
All of this was done without the teams being able to change the configuration of their cars, prohibited since before qualifying yesterday in this new format. And with a paradox. Yesterday everyone faced the ‘qualy’ with only one hour of work and many doubts. Today but, being able to face their entire program in long runs, they will reach the qualifying race with a very clear tire strategy, with much better homework done than other weekends. Uncertainty was sought, but in that sense, F1 did not achieve it.
Verstappen, apparent best beat
In terms of positions, Verstappen was the fastest ahead of Leclerc (at 0 ”375) and Sainz (at 0” 605). The two Ferraris showed a good face, but we will have to wait for this Sunday’s race to see if they have really managed to minimize their degradation problems with the front tires, their main weakness this year.
For his part, Alonso finished in the 13th position with his last batch of softs in a session with many different programs that made the teams reach the qualifying race with things very clear, but without giving clues to spectators full of doubts and uncertainty. Hamilton, for example, was eighth with a worse pace than the Red Bulls. But he could be hiding like he did in FP1 before taking the best position in qualifying.
The sprint qualifying race, the moment of truth
Today, 5.30 pm (Spanish time), the time will come to clear up many of those doubts with the sprint qualifying race. The long-awaited experiment. It could be exciting if at the start there is a battle between Max and Lewis and the cars in the middle zone. But from there, until lap 17, it could turn into a procession since no one will want to take risks when everything has stabilized thinking about Sunday’s race. The first 3 will have points (3 for the winner, 2 for the second and one for the third), but for the rest, it will not be more than the first part of tomorrow’s race. There, Alonso and Sainz hope to gain positions to improve their result on Sunday.