Mercedes’ upgrades favouring Lewis Hamilton as surprise pace emerges – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane. Silverstone July 2023. F1 news

Practice was in full swing at Silverstone on Friday and there was plenty of F1 news to come from the day at the British Grand Prix weekend.

Brad Pitt arrived on the scene in Northamptonshire but the stars of the show were in the paddock to take questions from the media, reacting to the 2024 F1 calendar dropping and the track limits debate raged on.

Here are the big stories from around Silverstone from Friday.

Additional reporting from Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper

Mercedes looking to please Lewis Hamilton with W14 upgrades

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin revealed that the upgrades being placed on the W14 are partially being put in place to help go towards Lewis Hamilton’s driving style.

“When we made changes to the car in Monaco, it got a bit pointy and the front end is quite direct. And it’s a fine line between that being helpful to your driving style and it being a bit of a hindrance,” Shovlin told Sky Sports F1.

“Now with races like the sprint race, you’ve got no time to play with setup so there’s some items we brought here to try and adapt the car a bit more towards Lewis’s style, but he’s very pragmatic.

Read more:Mercedes reveal Lewis Hamilton upgrade influence amid George Russell struggles

Exclusive: Jenson Button chats to On Track GP about his British GP predictions

2009 World Champion Jenson Button stopped by to talk to our YouTube channel, On Track GP, launched in collaboration with DR Sports, at Silverstone to discuss his predictions for the British Grand Prix weekend.

While he thinks Max Verstappen is hot favourite once again to take a sixth win in a row, he believes a British driver should be in prime position to get on the podium and give the home fans something to cheer at Silverstone.

Button also discussed the big changes taking place at Williams in his capacity as a senior advisor at the team, and the targets the team have set themselves for the remainder of the year, after a positive start to the weekend.

Read more:Exclusive: Jenson Button reveals thoughts on British driver chances at Silverstone

Guenther Steiner warns F1 over record calendar

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner warned Formula 1 over the record 24-race calendar it has put in place next season, given the sheer amount of workload that is going into the staff next season.

“Now we have 24 races, if you have 24 races that are all the same, I think it would be too many,” he told media including PlanetF1.com.

“But, because they are so different now in itself, people always look forward to something – you’ve got six sprint weekends so people go ‘Let’s go the sprint weekend’, then you’ve got the night races.

“Now, we’ve got two Saturday races next year, it’s a little bit of a mix. So you always have something special to look for. But can you imagine 24 races, like in the old days, when they were all cookie cutter – starting at three o’clock, finishing at five, you will say after 20, ‘I’ve got enough’ but, now, there’s always some newness and different things. So I think that makes it interesting. I think we have reached the limit with the business model we have at the moment.”

Read more:Guenther Steiner has warning for F1 after 24-race calendar announced

Charles Leclerc had to have Ferrari parts changed as he misses FP2

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc suffered an electrical issue on his car that stopped him from leaving the garage at all on Friday afternoon, with reports from Channel 4 even claiming flames were seen from his SF-23 before the session started.

摩纳哥的司机无法参加FP2 at all but the team have “changed everything” that needed to be swapped on his car, and Leclerc said the team are not concerned about any penalties for the British Grand Prix weekend – though he did not want to go into too much detail about what caused the issue in the first place.

“There was a small problem on the car, I think the team has identified what went wrong,” he said.

“We’ve changed basically everything that was wrong on the car and it should be should be fine for tomorrow.

“An electrical issue, so it shouldn’t have any influence on our weekend apart from obviously the lack of kilometres and laps in FP2.

Read more:Charles Leclerc tight-lipped on Ferrari problems as FP2 running wiped out

Alex Albon tries to make sense of two P3 finishes in practice

Williams were the surprise package from Friday practice, with Alex Albon finishing in the top three in both sessions and Logan Sargeant getting into the top five in FP2.

Team principal James Vowles let out a nervous smile as Albon crossed the line during his qualifying simulation in FP2, and both the practice sessions showed that the pace in the FW45 is no fluke.

Of course, the challenge will be keeping up that speed in qualifying and ensuring they hold the edge over their rivals, but even with the heavy upgrades having been placed on the car, Albon himself was somewhat confused about just where all this speed came from.

“I’d be lying to say it’s not surprising, obviously we’re not doing anything special,” he said.

“It’s strange, because without sounding too pessimistic, it doesn’t feel great out there for us, but it clearly must feel worse for the others.”

Read more:Alex Albon attempts to make sense of Williams top-three pace at Silverstone