Red Bull ended the opening day for the British Grand Prix with mixed feelings. The RB16 demonstrated promising outright and long-run pace, but traffic for Max Verstappen and a heavy crash for Alex Albon made the day difficult.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit introduced a raft of new parts for the high-speed circuit of Silverstone to trim down its deficit to the dominant Mercedes team. The first results indicated that the Adrian Newey-led engineering group managed to make a jump in terms of performance, but the interruptions today prevented the team to get a clear picture of where it really stands with its upgraded package.
Verstappen, who raised eyebrows with his hard-compound hot lap on his first stint in FP1, only finished 14th in the afternoon session. The Dutchman was held up in the brutally fast combination of Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel turns when Haas driver Romain Grosjean hesitated close to the racing line.
“I got blocked on my fast lap and then moved on to race runs, so I don’t have a proper time on the board for FP2 but at the end that doesn’t matter on a Friday and it wasn’t a bad day for us.”
The 22-year-old has confirmed that Red Bull’s car upgrades seem to deliver what the team had hoped for ahead of the weekend.
„We keep developing and bringing new parts to the car, and they seem like they are working a bit better, so I’m happy with that and the direction. There are of course still things that we can improve and on a Friday you don’t know what the others are doing.
„We will keep working but overall the car looked and felt better today. On the long runs we also looked quite decent but who knows what the weather will be like for the rest of the weekend and how that will change things! Overall, I would say it was a positive day but we will see where we really are tomorrow,” the Dutchman added.
The team's Thai driver, Alex Albon, delivered a surprising lift in performance in the early stages of the second practice session, but his march was halted by a big shunt he suffered at the halfway point of the session.
“There are a lot of positives to take from today despite the incident at the end of FP2. I’m fine and it wasn’t that bad. The rear just went away quite quickly and I struggled to correct it. I thought I caught it and then I just got sent into a tank slapper. We’ll have a look at the data and see what happened there.”
Reflecting on Mercedes low-key appearance on Friday, Albon is sure that the Brackley-based outfit is yet to show its true potential.
„As a Team though I think we’ve definitely made a step. We expected worse coming into today but the car feels good and it was hooked up straight away from the first lap in FP1. Obviously I’m pretty sure the Mercedes are hiding a lot so we’ll be watching them tomorrow but otherwise on our side the car feels more balanced and I think we have a better understanding of it.
„The wind and temperatures tomorrow will be very different to what we’ve had today so it will be a little bit of a reset but it’s looking good so far.”