Practice at Silverstone on Friday was in full swing and there was a lot of F1 news ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend.
Brad Pitt arrived on the scene in Northamptonshire, but the stars of the show were in the paddock answering questions from the media, commenting on the fall of the 2024 F1 calendar and debate over track limits raging.
Here are the big stories from around Silverstone from Friday.
Additional reporting from Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper
Mercedes wants to please Lewis Hamilton with W14 upgrades
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ track technical director, revealed that the upgrades being placed on the W14 are being made in part to help improve Lewis Hamilton’s driving style.
“When we made changes to the car in Monaco, it became a bit pointy and the front is quite direct. And it’s a fine line between being useful for your driving style and being a bit of a drag,” Shovlin told Sky Sports F1.
“With races like the sprint race, you don’t have time to play with the set-up, so there are some things we’ve brought here to try and adapt the car a bit more to Lewis’ style, but he’s very pragmatic.
Read more: Mercedes reveals Lewis Hamilton’s upgrade influence amid George Russell struggles
Exclusive: Jenson Button talks 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 partnership with DR Sports, at Silverstone to discuss his predictions for the British Grand Prix weekend.
While he thinks Max Verstappen is once again the firm favorite to take a sixth win in a row, he believes a British driver needs to be in a prime position to take the podium and give the home fans something to cheer on Silverstone.
Button also discussed the big changes taking place at Williams in his capacity as a senior adviser to the team, and the goals the team has set for itself for the rest of the year, following a positive start to the weekend.
Read more: Exclusive: Jenson Button reveals thoughts on British driver opportunities at Silverstone
Guenther Steiner warns F1 about record calendar
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner warned Formula 1 against the record calendar of 24 races set next season, given the enormous amount of work the staff will entail.
“Now we have 24 races, if you have 24 races that are all the same I think it would be too much,” he told media outlets including PlanetF1.com.
“But because they’re so different in themselves now, people are always looking forward to something – you have six sprint weekends, so people go ‘Let’s go sprint weekend’, then you have the night races.
“Now, we have two Saturday races next year, it’s a bit of a mix. So you always have something special to look for. But can you imagine 24 races, like before, when it was still all biscuits – starting at three o’clock and ending at five o’clock, after 20 you say, ‘I’ve had enough’, but now there’s always some novelty and other stuff. 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 announced 24-race calendar
Charles Leclerc had to have Ferrari parts replaced because he misses VT2
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had an electrical problem with his car that prevented him from leaving the garage at all on Friday afternoon. According to Channel 4 reports, there were even flames coming from his SF-23 before the session started.
The Monégasque driver was unable to compete in FP2 at all, but the team has “changed everything” that needed to be swapped on his car, and Leclerc said the team is not worried about any penalties ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend – although he did. don’t want to go into too much detail about what caused the problem in the first place.
“There was a little problem with the car, I think the team has identified what went wrong,” he said.
“We basically changed everything that was wrong with the car and it should be good for tomorrow.
“An electrical problem, so it shouldn’t affect our weekend, apart from the lack of kilometers and laps in FP2 of course.
Read more: Charles Leclerc kept tight-lipped on Ferrari issues as FP2 faded
Alex Albon tries to understand two P3 finishes in practice
Williams was the surprise pack of Friday practice, with Alex Albon finishing in the top three in both sessions and Logan Sargeant in the top five in FP2.
Team principal James Vowles smiled nervously as Albon crossed the line during his qualifying simulation in FP2, and both practice sessions showed that pace in the FW45 is no fluke.
Of course the challenge will be to keep that pace in qualifying and make sure they keep the lead over their rivals, but even with the heavy upgrades that have been placed on the car, Albon himself was somewhat confused as to where all the that speed came from.
“I’d be lying if I said it’s not surprising, obviously we’re not doing anything special,” he said.
“It’s odd, because without sounding too pessimistic, it doesn’t feel great for us out there, but obviously it must feel worse for the others.”
Read more: Alex Albon tries to understand Williams’ pace in the top three at Silverstone