Bottas leads British GP practice; Vettel is ‘dizzy’ with shield

As the British Grand Prix weekend began with free practice sessions led by Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes back on top, Ferrari tried a new shield device to protect drivers from debris and flying detritus from hitting their heads. The race for head protection is a noble charge to be sure but opinions are mixed about F1 using a windshield or closed cockpit concept.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took to the track with the new shield and his review was not positive:

“I tried it this morning and I got a bit dizzy,” said Vettel.

“The forward vision is not very good.

“I think it’s because of the curvature, you get quite a bit of distortion.

“There was a lot of downwash down the straight, coming off the back of my helmet and pushing my head forward.

“We had a run planned with it, but I didn’t like it, so we took it off.”

I’m not against safety but there is an element to F1 that is core to its format…open cockpit, open wheel. There are divided ranks on closing either of those elements but for me, these moves are fueled by pragmatism and sometimes they can beget problems that didn’t exist before.

I’m not an engineer but I can’t help but think these high degradation tires with sticky rubber will have sticking bits all over the shield and as the cars are only making one pit stop, there isn’t time to continually clean the shield like in NASCAR or WEC. You can’t have a large tear-off on these things wither as those sheets would be in the radiator ducts of all the trailing cars.

While rain mitigation chemicals have come a long way and they are great at whisking moisture off of helmet visors, I would assume they would be used on the shield but the surface is much larger and if the curvature of the shield already is challenging, then adding rain might be very detrimental to vision but again, the Rain-X style chemical they use are really, really good so I could be wrong. In this case, though, you’ll have to surfaces with rain streak…the visor and the shield.

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Free Practice 2

The session was led by Mercedes but it wasn’t the properly rested and re-booted Lewis Hamilton at the top, it was his teammate, Valtteri Bottas who has been doing a terrific job of making his mark on Mercedes of late.

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.496s 31
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.543s 0.047s 35
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.828s 0.332s 36
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m28.956s 0.460s 36
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m29.098s 0.602s 32
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.586s 1.090s 35
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.936s 1.440s 37
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m30.006s 1.510s 36
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m30.238s 1.742s 28
10 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m30.383s 1.887s 42
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m30.555s 2.059s 26
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m30.562s 2.066s 34
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.624s 2.128s 43
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.661s 2.165s 33
15 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m30.695s 2.199s 37
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m30.782s 2.286s 31
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m30.835s 2.339s 33
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m30.879s 2.383s 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.616s 3.120s 27
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.929s 3.433s 30

Hat Tip: Autosport