Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri flex McLaren’s muscles on Friday at the British Grand Prix

A major story this Formula 1 season centers on how the chasing pack behind Red Bull has caught the 2023 Constructors’ Champions, setting up a vision of a title fight as the season enters its second half. Chief among that group? McLaren, as the darlings of last year’s second half have shown tremendous pace this year.

And if Friday is any indication at the British Grand Prix, that will continue this weekend.

Lando Norris topped the timing sheets in both FP1 and FP2, with teammate Oscar Piastri on his heels in both sessions as the Australian driver was third-fastest in FP1, and second-fastest in FP2. While practice results often tell a fraction of the full story, what should give McLaren comfort is that all teams — including Red Bull — used the softest compound available in FP2.

Both drivers, as well as Team Principal Andrea Stella, viewed Friday as a “solid” first day.

“It’s been a solid day. We’ve done a good amount of running and some nice laps, so I feel reasonably comfortable. We’ve made some changes over the morning which helped me get into a good rhythm, which is super important around such a high-speed track like this,” said Norris in the team’s post-practice report.

“I think we’ve got a few more to tweaks to make, but it’s difficult with the challenges of wind and rain. It’s been a clean two sessions, and that’s a good start to the weekend, so I’m happy with that.”

Piastri, who capitalized on the late-race incident between Norris and Max Verstappen to score a podium finish in the Austrian Grand Prix, hailed the results on Friday while cautioning that weather could throw teams a curveball the rest of the weekend.

“That’s Friday done. It’s been a decent day for the team, especially in FP2. We’ve got a few things to sort out overnight to make it a bit better on my side, but I think it’s been a solid first day at Silverstone,” said Piastri.

“Going into tomorrow, I think we’re in a reasonable position, however we’re probably going to get very wet which can change things. I’m looking forward to getting back on track.”

The McLaren boss took a similar approach.

“Today at Silverstone we had two productive sessions. There was an ever-present risk of rain, but it only materialised towards the end of the second session, which gave us enough time to go through our run plan and set-up work,” said Stella. “In general, we got encouraging information – but conditions were very particular today, so we’re not looking too much at the lap times themselves. We’re now just focusing on tomorrow, when we need to be ready for whatever the weather brings.”

Diving into some of the telemetry data, courtesy of F1-Tempo highlights Norris’ strength on Friday when compared with Verstappen. Here is a look at both driver’s fastest lap in FP2, with both drivers on the softest compound:

Screenshot 2024 07 05 at 2.24.50 PM

Whether this is a matter of setup or engine mode, of course, remains to be seen.

But certainly, this was a strong first day for McLaren at the British Grand Prix.

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