Reuters/Silverstone, United Kingdom
Canadian Lance Stroll led the way for Mercedes-lookalikes Racing Point in British Grand Prix practice yesterday while Red Bull’s Alex Albon crashed and brought out red flags.
Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile signed on as a stand-in teammate for Stroll after Mexican Sergio Perez tested positive for Covid-19.
The team owner’s son lapped the former World War Two airfield with a best time of one minute 27.274 seconds — marginally quicker than Max Verstappen’s best effort of the morning for Red Bull.
Verstappen, whose teammate Albon crashed at Stowe in the afternoon but still ended up second overall, managed a 1:27.422 in a sizzlingly hot opening session when Stroll was third fastest.
The Dutchman was only 14th after lunch when he was blocked on his sole attempt at a quick lap.
Hulkenberg, back for what may be two races, looked like he’d never been away after lapping ninth and seventh fastest respectively for a team whose car is subject to an ongoing protest over its legality.
Mercedes six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was second and fifth in the sessions run in front of empty grandstands with spectators not allowed due to the pandemic.
The Briton, a six times winner at Silverstone, leads Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, sixth and third fastest in the respective sessions, in the standings by five points after three races.
Ferrari had Charles Leclerc fifth and fourth but the Monegasque’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was sidelined for the opening session after Ferrari detected something wrong with his car’s intercooler system and decided to strip it down.
The German was then 18th after lunch, when Ferrari decided to change his car’s pedals.
Hulkenberg was the ‘new’ name on the screens, the experienced driver walking back into the paddock 10 minutes before the start of the session to take over the Mexican’s ‘Pink Mercedes’.
Wearing a spare pair of Stroll’s overalls, the German acquitted himself well.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi brought out red flags at the half hour mark after spinning at the exit to Becketts in the morning, leaving debris across the track.
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