Lance Stroll topped the times for Racing Point in Friday afternoon’s second free practice for the British Grand Prix, the Canadian showing the full potential of his team’s controversial ‘pink Mercedes’ as he outpaced Red Bull’s Alex Albon by less than a tenth of a second.
The Canadian’s performance helped lift the mood at Racing Point whose other driver Sergio Perez will miss the race after testing positive for coronavirus.
The Mexican’s replacement, Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest after being called-up overnight.
On a very hot day in central England, the air temperature was 35 degrees Celsius and the track 48 as the second session delivered dramatic and unexpected action in front of empty grandstands and campsites.
Stroll clocked a fastest lap in one minute and 27.274 seconds to beat Albon by 0.090 seconds, the London-born Thai driver crashing heavily in pursuit of an improved time, but retaining his position ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the leading Mercedes.
Albon’s crash at Stowe, where he slid off backwards into the barriers, was red-flagged to pause the session while debris was cleared from the track.
He was shaken by the impact, but not injured.
Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari ahead of championship leader and six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Carlos Sainz of McLaren.
After Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly was eighth for Alpha Tauri ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo, all three complaining, like most drivers, of the difficult hot conditions and a gusty cross-wind at the former wartime aerodrome.
After missing the morning session with an cooling system problem, Sebastian Vettel was out of luck again in the afternoon in his Ferrari, winding up down in 18th after struggling with pedal problems.
Max Verstappen, who was quickest in the opening morning session, was 14th for Red Bull.