Silverstone, England (AP) — Sebastian Vettel was fastest ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in second practice for the British Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.
Ferrari driver Vettel, who leads by one point going into the 10th of 21 races this season, was 0.187 seconds quicker than Hamilton and 0.357 ahead of Bottas.
The Mercedes duo managed a one-two in first practice as they aim to bounce back after failing to finish the Austrian GP due to team errors last Sunday.
“It’s going to be very, very close this weekend. The Ferraris are really fast,” Hamilton said. “We’re in for a serious fight, which is great for the fans, and I hope we can pull through.”
Bottas had a new power unit fitted, his third of the season. Mercedes said it was a precaution because of high temperatures on his second unit following his retirement in Austria.
Austrian winner Max Verstappen endured a frustrating day, stopping with a gearbox problem in first practice, then crashing early in the second.
The Dutch driver tried to change course after losing control of the rear of his car coming out of a corner, only for the Red Bull to snap back the other way and crash into the barriers.
Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso also had an apparent gearbox issue.
Hamilton is going for a fifth straight victory in his home race, and a record sixth overall, but the four-time world champion complained early on that “this track is the bumpiest I’ve ever been on.”
The new asphalt track at Silverstone took its toll on several drivers, particularly in first practice, where Romain Grosjean spun off a turn and slid across the gravel before crashing into the barriers.
The French driver did not take part in second practice as his chassis was being replaced.
Grosjean blamed a bump for keeping his drag reduction system open as he turned.
Kimi Raikkonen was next to slide off going into a turn, though the Finn avoided major damage and was able to return with grass-covered tires.
Fernando Alonso also had a big wobble as his McLaren ran wide, but he managed to recover. The Spaniard improved in second practice.
Another practice is scheduled for Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.