‘Miles off’: Door ajar for Mercedes resurgence; McLaren rediscovers mojo: F1 practice Talking Pts,
Verstappen appeared to be in a league of his own, finishing faster than 0.4s ahead of teammate Sergio Perez in second place on Saturday morning. Red Bull surprised everyone by being off the pace throughout Friday's practice sessions.
The vanes on the side of the chassis in front of the sidepod have been moved by Mercedes, which serves to improve the quality of the flow into the radiator duct and provide better cooling performance.
Additionally, it has a higher forward floor edge wing slot and a higher forward position camber, both of which are intended to lift the forward floor load.
The forward floor fence has also undergone a slight camber adjustment to improve the pressure delta over it. This enhances flow to the diffuser while also increasing floor load.
Verstappen would then come back with yet another valiant effort, as his time of 1:27.901 restored a margin of almost half a second.
Perez finished second in the closing laps, dealing another blow to Ferrari and Mercedes, and Red Bull now appears to be in total command going into qualifying, which will be shown live on Sky Sports at 3 p.m.
After the session, former F1 world champion Damon Hill observed, "They certainly had a lot in hand, and they knew it as well, and they didn't reveal it till the very end."
With showers predicted for qualifying, the weather may end up being Verstappen's toughest obstacle to securing pole.
IS MCLAREN ON FIRE AGAIN?
Mercedes seems to be far clear of the midfield, but there is a big question mark hanging over the race for best of the rest.
Fernando Alonso's Alpine, which finished the day as the sixth-fastest car overall, did not complete any long runs and is therefore not included in the calculations.
Alonso and teammate Esteban Ocon, though, had their sessions interrupted; the former due to a lengthy run of configuration laps to start FP2, and the latter due to an early withdrawal when a crack in his bodywork was discovered.
The French team expects to be competitive and has upgraded the car significantly this weekend with a focus on the floor and bodywork, which is to say, pretty much everything. However, it is unclear where the team stands in the standings after the first day of racing.
Although Alonso's fastest lap was over 0.6 seconds slower than Lando Norris's incredible best lap, it was still faster than Perez and Russell's and Russell's best lap. The next-best midfielder, Daniel Ricciardo, was 0.2 seconds slower than Alonso.
However, despite the fact that these two teams have recently been in a close battle, Alfa Romeo posted the fastest long-run times with Valtteri Bottas. The Finn's stint was among the shortest of the midfield runners, but his times on the medium compound were more than competitive with those of the McLaren drivers on softs or hards.
Alfa Romeo is one of just two teams entering this race with no changes at all, which paradoxically could provide it a slight edge, at least early in the weekend, as it will take less time to learn its car. We'll have to wait and see if that holds true at the weekend's end.
All chemicals, midfielders, and long-term averages
Italicized is the fastest time per compound.
1:34.398 Alfa Romeo (mediums, 4 laps)
1:34.738 McLaren (hards, 9 laps)
1:34.738 McLaren (softs, 7 laps)
1:34.928 Alfa Romeo (hards, 7 laps)
1:35.337 AlphaTauri (hards, 5 laps)
Haas: 1:35.463 (mediums, 8 laps)
Haas: 1:35.474 (softs, 8 laps)
1:35.636 AlphaTauri (softs, laps)
WHERE IS THE WEATHER?
Rain is expected to return on Saturday morning and last until midday, possibly interfering with FP3 and qualifying. The teams' lack of running in FP1 to conserve wet-weather rubber shows they were obviously sufficiently concerned.
Although Sunday is predicted to be dry, anything is possible in the UK in the summer.
FIFA WORLD CUP 2022-QATAR
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is an international association football tournament contested by the men's national teams of FIFA's member
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