Pierre Gasly made a surprise appearance at the top of the timesheets at the end of an eventful opening practice session for the British Formula 1 Grand Prix which featured Romain Grosjean having a bizarre crash at the pit exit.
Gasly, whose future at Red Bull Racing is under some scrutiny after a less-than-stellar graduation from sister outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso, put in a late quick lap to remove Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas from his long-held position at the top of the timesheets. A light rain shower in the final half-hour of the session limited running, contributing to an unusual final result.
Bottas’ quickest time of 1:27.629 proved to be the benchmark lap for much of the session, with the Finn leading crowd favourite and championship leader Lewis Hamilton to a Mercedes 1-2 before they were respectively beaten by Gasly and the sister Red Bull Honda of Max Verstappen later on.
Gasly’s final run featured an excellent lap time of 1:27.173 on his final tour, which put him almost half a second quicker than Bottas’ earlier effort.
The newly resurfaced Silverstone circuit witnessed several drivers spinning as they got to grips with the new track surface, with the most notable being Grosjean crashing his Haas Ferrari as he exited the pits. The Frenchman lost the back end of his car as he turned right to exit the pits and crashed nose-first into the barriers; he drove the wrong way down the pit exit in order to find a safe place to turn his car around before completing a slow lap of the circuit minus his front wing and returning to the pits for repairs.
Grosjean then compounded his woes in what is turning out to be a miserable season with a second spin later in the session.
Joining him in spins – albeit actually on the circuit itself – were British Grand Prix rookies George Russell (Williams) and Lando Norris (McLaren). The former had a spin into the grass after trying to catch a slide at Brooklands, while the latter found himself facing the wrong way when he lost the rear of his car exiting the final corner.
The session was then briefly red-flagged when Kimi Räikkönen brought his Alfa Romeo to a halt at the entry to Luffield; the Finn’s car appeared to emit a puff of smoke as he rounded Brooklands before cutting out down the Wellington Straight.
At the end of the session, Red Bull Racing and Mercedes-AMG occupied the first four positions on the timesheets, with the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel a distant fifth- and sixth-fastest respectively and over a second off Gasly’s pace.
It was a positive showing for the Renault team after a woeful weekend last time out in Austria, with Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo seventh and eighth. Alexander Albon, despite a wobble at Brooklands, was ninth-fastest for Scuderia Toro Rosso, with Carlos Sainz completing the top ten in his McLaren.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:27.173||25|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:27.629||+ 0.456||29|
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:28.009||+ 0.836||21|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:28.122||+ 0.949||26|
|5.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:28.253||+ 1.080||21|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:28.304||+ 1.131||21|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:28.803||+ 1.630||21|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:29.031||+ 1.858||24|
|9.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:29.093||+ 1.920||26|
|10.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:29.162||+ 1.989||31|
|11.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:29.170||+ 1.997||23|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:29.453||+ 2.280||27|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:29.500||+ 2.327||26|
|14.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:29.657||+ 2.484||25|
|15.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:30.099||+ 2.926||24|
|16.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:30.605||+ 3.432||24|
|17.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:30.741||+ 3.568||25|
|18.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:30.747||+ 3.574||12|
|19.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:30.811||+ 3.638||22|
|20.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:32.121||+ 4.948||27|
Image via Red Bull Content Pool