Lance Stroll set Friday’s fastest practice time at the British Grand Prix after a heavy crash for Alex Albon crash interrupted FP2 with a red flag.
Low-fuel qualifying simulation laps were getting underway when Albon lost control of his Red Bull Racing car through Stowe. The rear stepped out, and though he caught the initial slide, the RB16 then snapped again from his grasp and rocketed backwards and rotated sideways into the barrier.
The Thai driver appeared shaken but otherwise all right, and he was taken to the medical center as per protocol.
Cold consolation may be that Albon, the first of the front-runners to take a set of soft tires on a low-fuel run, held the second-quickest time at the end of the session only 0.09s behind Stroll’s Racing Point. Valtteri Bottas completed the top three to finish 0.157s off the pace for Mercedes, with Charles Leclerc a further 0.14s behind.
Lewis Hamilton had only one clean lap on the softs before the suspension, which left him 0.3s behind Stroll’s benchmark. The Briton attempted another quick lap when the session resumed around 10 minutes after Albon’s crash, but a slow first sector was enough for him to abandon the time and begin his long-run simulations.
But ironically it was Albon’s teammate, Max Verstappen, was most affected by the 10-minute suspension. The Dutchman had attempted to set a quick time only minutes before the crash when he was held up by a slow-moving Romain Grosjean.
Forced to dramatically back off to avoid a crash, Verstappen gesticulated at the Frenchman as he passed him at close quarters while exercising F1 TV’s censor radioing his displeasure back to the team. He ended the session 14th without a representative lap.
Sebastian Vettel completed a torrid day at Silverstone with 18th on the time sheet. The German was unable to set a timed lap in the morning with an intercooler problem, while a pedal change after a handful of laps in the afternoon cost him more valuable track time. Once finally able to get back in the cockpit, Vettel focused on setup work rather than chasing a lap time, leaving him near the bottom of the order.
This cleared the way for Carlos Sainz to finish sixth on a day of upgrade evaluation for McLaren. The British team, currently third in the constructors standings, added new parts to the car between FP1 and FP2, having already run an updated front wing and floor in the first session.
Nico Hulkenberg, stepping in for the ill Sergio Perez at Racing Point, was seventh quickest and 0.6s off the pace of his teammate.
Pierre Gasly was eighth quickest and 0.7s adrift, though the Frenchman was more than a tenth quicker than Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian was equipped with the French team’s suite of upgrades for this round after teammate Esteban Ocon had the benefit of the new parts for the morning session, allowing both to evaluate their effectiveness. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.
The session ended with a spin by Nicholas Latifi at Stowe. The Canadian rookie lost the car in a similar style to Albon, albeit later in the corner and without the devastating second snap out of control. The Williams driver was able to recover and return to the pits.
Although Latifi and Albon were the only drivers to suffer high-profile off-track excursions, the hot and blustery conditions were visible on track, with cars twitching through the circuit’s most challenging high-speed sections.
The ambient temperature hovered at 95 degrees F and the track reached as high as 120, but the unusually warm conditions are likely to be unrepresentative of the rest of the weekend. The weather is forecast to cool considerably on Saturday and Sunday, dropping by as much as 25 degrees F with a threat of rain during FP3.