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Formula 1

Mercedes on top? Gary Anderson's Silverstone trackside verdict

by Gary Anderson
4 min read

Formula 1’s return to Silverstone offers some great vantage points, but watching from Brooklands gives a great view of the long, medium-speed left hander that leads immediately into the slower, even longer right-hander at Luffield onto the old start/finish straight.

It’s a tricky part of the lap, with lots of time to be gained and lost. RB driver Yuki Tsunoda reminded us of that when he went off early on in first practice.

His spin was coming from the moment he went a bit wide through the Brooklands left-hander. If anyone misses the apex at Brooklands, you can’t get back on the throttle, can’t get the car turned right and Tsunoda paid the price. The rear came round and he couldn’t hang onto it – and you can’t stop the pendulum effect given the narrowly-mandated weight distribution of these cars.


From front to back, it’s very difficult to pick out a good car from a bad car. They are all good, it’s just that some are slightly better than others. Everyone is within two seconds here, so maybe a tenth of a second per corner from front to back.

That’s something the FIA needs to take note of as this is the third year of these regulations and the cars are converging. It’s all going to be thrown out of the window in 2026. We could have a great year next year, then it’s all change in 2026.

Stability is really what we want, and within that stability you can make little changes, dot the I’s and cross the t’s. But a big change of regs is not what we want. Watching these cars in action today is a reminder of what F1 might lose in 18 months just as when the rules changed from the close 2021 season into 2022.


The Mercedes looks good as far as having a good, consistent balance and grip level through Brooklands. The drivers didn’t use the soft tyre but could get the car right into the apex in the left-hander and then into Luffield have a good line and get on the power early.

The two McLarens were faster and used the softer tyres, but I’m not sure that Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri got the speed out of it that McLaren would want.

The balance changes as the soft tyres go on and you’ll have more understeer, so that needs to be accommodated. But that will also change with track evolution.

And that’s something Mercedes may have an advantage in with the front wing it recently introduced as it’s very easy to adjust the wing levels.

Mercedes had a car that was giving good downforce at one front wing level but now it’s very adjustable. That’s also a positive for the rest of the car downstream as  consistent airflow allows better understanding for optimising the underfloor leading edge and underfloor surface.

I was surprised to see that Max Verstappen’s Red Bull seemed to have more understeer than Mercedes and McLaren, particularly on the second push lap on a set of tyres. That’s usually a situation Red Bull can engineer its way out of as the weekend progress and it was early days when I was watching.

The Ferrari doesn’t look so convincing. Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc struggled with understeer and couldn’t get the car hooked into the apex anywhere near as well as the Mercedes drivers. They carried decent speed, but that meant they couldn’t get the power on out of the corner as positively.

Aston Martin ran the soft tyres and looked quick, so perhaps after regrouping there is some pace in the car on this track.

But it is worrying the team talks so much about tracks not suiting it because that seems to be all of them recently. Perhaps the fast layout here and the compromise level of downforce works better. As Fernando Alonso himself said recently: ‘talk less and work harder’.

Further back, it’s very closely-packed with only tiny differences – nothing fundamentally wrong with those cars, they’re just not as good as the frontrunners. And that’s exactly what we want to see. We had the closest Q1 ever in F1 in Austria last time and it could be very tight here in Britain.

Overall, while McLaren and Red Bull are the favourites, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mercedes doing a good job here at its home race. Based on what I saw in that session, I wonder what odds you could get on a Mercedes 1-2?

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