British Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel may have only finished P4 in Friday practice, but the championship leader was pleased to have closed in on Mercedes throughout the day.
Vettel finished P6 in the morning session, bested by both Mercedes drivers, teammate Kimi Raikkonen and also the two Red Bull drivers. This was concerning for Ferrari, as Red Bull looked to have taken a significant step forward with upgrades to their RB13.
The afternoon session will have calmed some nerves in that area, as Ferrari stepped up to jump ahead of the two Red Bulls to only trail the leading Mercedes men. Both Ferraris were fitted with fresh power units for the remainder of the weekend, using up another from their season allocation. While Bottas & Hamilton again finished P1 & P2 respectively, Raikkonen & Vettel finished P3 and P4 and both within half a second of Bottas’ fastest time on the same SuperSoft tyres.
“Today for us it was a bit mixed of ups and downs.” said Vettel after the day’s running. “This morning we had difficulties with the balance to start with, but overall I think we improved the car at the end of the session. On Friday you don’t seek much the performance and this new engine has a lot of miles to do, so we try to save it. It’s working well and we didn’t have problems. But we still have to do more and to improve. We have a lot of things to look at. Mercedes looks quick but it’s not a surprise. The track today was too slippery and tricky, but I think we can get better tomorrow”.
The German also tried out the FIA’s latest cockpit protection concept, the ‘Shield’. He didn’t appear particularly impressed by the design, saying that his vision was blurry through the windscreen-type device: “The vision is not very good and I think it’s because of the curvature that creates a bit of distortion. We had a run plan but I didn’t like it too much. I couldn’t see much, but at the end it was fun to drive”.