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Vettel and Ferrari bid to 'kill magic' of Hamilton and Mercedes

2018-07-07 10:30

Image: Andrej Isakovic

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are out to "kill Mercedes' magic" after the German outpaced Lewis Hamilton in Friday practice for the British Grand Prix.

It was the first time the championship leading Vettel had topped the times in the first two practice sessions for more than a year since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.

'Mercedes are strong around here'

"It's been a good Friday. We've had rough Fridays, but for a change, it seems like a good one," said Vettel, who was just a tenth ahead of Hamilton who is bidding for a fifth consecutive British Grand Prix win and record sixth overall.

"We try to kill their (Mercedes') magic, obviously that's what we have tried over the last years and I think here and there we have succeeded quite well.

"It's true that they are very strong around here and we expect them to be very strong tomorrow, but I hope we can be there and I hope we can be close. That would be very good news.

"Historically it has not been a very strong track for us, but today has been a good start, and hopefully we can improve tomorrow and kill their magic..."

On a hot afternoon in central England, the four-time champion German clocked a best lap in one minute and 27.552 seconds to ease 0.187 seconds clear of the Briton.

The session was red-flagged to a halt for 10 minutes when Max Verstappen crashed at Luffield, spinning his Red Bull backwards into the barriers. He was unhurt, but took no further part in the session.

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third quickest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and, unexpectedly, Fernando Alonso of McLaren.

Hamilton had clocked the fastest time in opening practice earlier in the day when he outpaced Bottas.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Esteban Ocon and his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez with Monegasque Charles Leclerc taking 10th for Sauber.

The second session began without Romain Grosjean, whose Haas car had not been repaired in time following his crash in the morning.

Raikkonen was quickest early on before Verstappen, who won so impressively last weekend in Austria, crashed heavily after two laps on hard tyres, the rear end of his Red Bull car snapping back 180 degrees.

His car's rear suspension was broken and he took no further part in the session.

"I think I wanted to be too quick on the hard tyre," said Verstappen. "I just lost it. Unfortunately, the way I hit the wall, it rips off the right rear.

"At the end of the day it is not ideal to lose the second session, but the feeling I had before that was pretty good.

"So I think, balance-wise, we are not far off, but we are losing a lot of lap time on the straights."

This prompted the deployment of a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) after which Vettel took over on top of the times on softs, the two Mercedes men having remained in their garage at that time.

Eventually, they joined the fray before Pierre Gasly pulled up with power problems at Turn Four. He parked neatly to avoid any need for another VSC.

After an hour's action, with the teams going into 'long run' mode, Vettel remained fastest one-tenth clear of the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas.


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