SILVERSTONE, England, July 1 (Reuters) – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz kept crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton off the top of the timesheets in second practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday.
The Spaniard produced a best lap of one minute 28.942 seconds, 0.163 quicker than Mercedes’ seven times world champion Hamilton.
Britain’s Lando Norris was third for McLaren in the dry second session, with Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen fourth — after complaining of a ‘weird noise’ — and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc fifth.
Hamilton, winner a record eight times at Silverstone, told his team over the radio that something appeared to have fallen off the floor of his car at turn nine towards the end of the session.
Mercedes have brought some major performance upgrades to Silverstone, hoping to provide Hamilton and team mate George Russell with more competitive cars after bouncing problems this season.
Valtteri Bottas had led a damp and largely meaningless first practice, with half the field including Verstappen failing to set a time.
Bottas did only nine laps and clocked a comparatively slow time of 1:42.249 seconds in his Alfa Romeo, with Hamilton also second but 0.532 slower.
They were the only two to set a time on slicks at the end of that session, with others on wets on an afternoon of classic British summer weather with showers and the sun occasionally poking through.
The fans packed in regardless, filling the grandstands with more than 400,000 expected over a sellout three days at Silverstone compared to last year’s attendance of 356,000.
That would make it the biggest three-day attendance at a sporting event in Britain.
The opening session was red flagged with a minute to spare after Canadian Lance Stroll beached his Aston Martin in the gravel run-off at Copse.
Verstappen leads Mexican team mate Sergio Perez by 46 points after nine races.
Formula One also trialled a new ‘pedal cam’ camera mounted inside the footwell of Lando Norris’s McLaren, the first time that camera angle had been used since the 2000 Belgian Grand Prix.
The sport said it aimed to assess the technology and roll it out across the grid in future races to give insight into the drivers’ work in the cockpit, adding to the ‘helmet cam’ feature.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)