Lewis Hamilton says despite promising signs on the timesheet he has struggled battling conditions and the new Silverstone track surface while he feels Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was “much more comfortable” ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The reigning Formula 1 world champion has the chance to take the outright record for most career wins at the British Grand Prix – a statistic he currently shares with Alain Prost and Jim Clark on five wins – and ended Friday practice second fastest just 0.069s off Bottas on the outright lap times.

Hamilton was one of a number of drivers to be pushed wide on the exit of the Maggotts and Becketts corner complex in the high winds which greeted FP2 and feels the conditions combined with Silverstone’s new track surface made it a tricky opening day for him compared to his Mercedes teammate. Silverstone has recently been resurfaced following problems with drainage and bumps from an initial resurfacing in 2018.

“The asphalt is very smooth which makes it tricky to get the tyres to work, they’re in and out of the window, and the gusty winds didn’t make it easy,” Hamilton said.

“I was struggling with the rear end and went off a few times, but Valtteri seemed much more comfortable in the car, so we are going to dig deep tonight trying to figure out what the issue is and how we can solve it for tomorrow.

“It's been quite windy, quite gusty out there, so it hasn’t been the easiest of days, but we were up there nonetheless, and it looks like we'll be in the fight.

“The new track surface is better on the straights, especially between Turn 4 and Turn 6 where it was pretty bad before. It’s still bumpy on the exit of Turn 7 and towards Copse, but after that it’s nice and smooth through Maggotts and Becketts and down the Hanger straight.”

Hamilton remains wary of Ferrari’s pace at Silverstone, having seen Sebastian Vettel claim victory for the Italian manufacturer at the British round 12 months ago, and anticipates a stronger challenger from them this weekend. Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc ended FP2 in third place, just over one-tenth slower than Hamilton, with the German driver in fourth place.

“It’s always difficult to say after the first day and the Ferraris are usually a little bit slower on a Friday and then pick up the pace on Saturday,” he said.

Friday’s fastest driver Bottas has echoed his teammate’s comments but feels positive with his own performance at Silverstone.

“I’ve had a good day from the get-go, both in terms of my own performance and the set-up of the car. It’s always a nice feeling when you start a weekend like that,” Bottas said.

“The car seems quite well-balanced, but I think there’s still room for improvement. It felt quick around the corners so that's a good thing.

“I still think it’s going to be close again tomorrow and it will be all about who finds the most performance tonight and tomorrow before qualifying, but it’s nice to start the weekend on a positive note.”



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