July 5th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Mercedes drivers have started from pole position in five of the first eight races of the 2013 season. And that's no coincidence - the car is very quick over a single lap, partly because it warms tyres up quickly. Based on the results of Friday practice, this weekend looks like another opportunity for a Silver Arrow to take pole position.
The morning session was thoroughly dominated by Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap time, two tenths quicker than Rosberg and over a second clear of third-placed Mark Webber. The second session did not go quite as smoothly, as both drivers struggled with understeer. But Rosberg still managed to split the Red Bulls for second place, while Hamilton struggled to the eighth fastest time after some setup changes made between the sessions turned out not to work.
This is effectively Nico Rosberg's fourth home race of the season. Malaysia was the home race of Mercedes title sponsor Petronas, Monaco is where Rosberg grew up and currently lives, Silverstone is the home track of the Mercedes team that is based just a few miles from the British track, and Germany is the home of Mercedes-Benz and also the country under whose flag Rosberg races. Rosberg won in Monaco and last week at Silverstone, and would dearly love to make it three out of four home wins this season. More importantly than that, he wants to close to the gap to championship-leader Sebastian Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton is still chasing his first victory as a works Mercedes driver. He has had two pole positions and three podiums (all third places) in 2013, but the top step of the podium has proven to be elusive for Hamilton. Last weekend a likely victory was scuppered by a failed left-rear tyre, but Hamilton still managed to fight his way back to fourth by the end of the race. This weekend the tyre problems of Silverstone seem to be a thing of the past, and Hamitlon will therefore be looking forward to a result based purely on pace.
This is what the drivers had to say after Friday practice:
Nico Rosberg: "It's a great track and a lot of fun to drive here with my current Silver Arrow. It was an interesting day for us as we had to adapt to the new tyres. They are different and require a different set-up, so today was a good opportunity to learn something. We want to understand them quicker and better than the other teams. Generally it seems that we are quick again over one lap and the long run was not bad. It's difficult to predict where we are, because you never know exactly about the fuel levels of the others. Also it's going to get warmer on Sunday and this could change also the whole picture again."
Lewis Hamilton: "It's been a reasonable day of practice for us. This morning went pretty well and the car felt good, but then we made some changes which didn't quite work out for us this afternoon. The car felt a little off balance during P2 so we'll have a look into that overnight and probably backtrack on some of those changes for tomorrow. I'm sure we will be back on form for P3."