Vettel hits the front, Verstappen hits the wall

Image by Zak Mauger/LAT

Vettel hits the front, Verstappen hits the wall

Formula 1

Vettel hits the front, Verstappen hits the wall

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the second practice session for the British Grand Prix as Max Verstappen crashed out early on.

On just his second lap of the session, Verstappen had to correct a snap of oversteer as he got on the power when exiting Luffield, but — much like Sergey Sirotkin in FP1 — he overcompensated and spun the car in the opposite direction. The Red Bull went backward across the grass and hit the wall with the right front first, pitching the right rear into the wall and breaking the suspension.

Although Red Bull was able to get the car back to the garage with more than 50 minutes of the session remaining, the scale of the damage ensured Verstappen didn’t return to the track.

Another setback for Verstappen (Image by Sam Bloxham/LAT)

After a brief red flag period to recover Verstappen’s car, it was Vettel who posted the fastest lap with a 1m27.552s to lead Lewis Hamilton by 0.187s. It was an encouraging performance from Ferrari on a track where Mercedes is favorite, as it has been more common for the Scuderia to make a clear step forward on a Saturday ahead of qualifying.

The two Mercedes drivers were still able to split the Ferraris, with Valtteri Bottas third on a 1m27.909s, a little over 0.1s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. While Verstappen failed to set a time, teammate Daniel Ricciardo was fifth quickest but 0.856s adrift of Vettel, with Red Bull appearing to have work to do overnight to close the gap to the top two teams.

There was encouragement for McLaren at the end of a week that has seen Eric Boullier resign and a restructuring take place, with Fernando Alonso sixth, 1.7s slower than Vettel as the gulf between the top three teams and the rest was emphasized on the high-downforce circuit. Just 0.3s covered Alonso in sixth to Kevin Magnussen in 12th, also encompassing both Renaults, Force Indias and Charles Leclerc, although the latter suffered a spin at Brooklands late in the session.

Although Magnussen was competitive, his Haas teammate Romain Grosjean missed the entirety of the second session, with his crash in FP1 requiring a change of chassis that could not go through scrutineering until after FP2.

There was trouble for another French driver as Pierre Gasly stopped with more than half an hour of the session remaining. Honda confirmed a power unit issue was to blame for Gasly pulling off the track at Village (Turn 3) but played down the significance of the stoppage.

-Chris Medland

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