A sun drenched day in Northamptonshire saw an incredible 85,000 people take to the revamped Silverstone venue. McLaren had much of the support in the stands but were left with many issues as they struggled to optimise their new package while Red Bull looked strongest on a track that should be ideal for the RB6. Mark Webber ended the day on top after Sebastian Vettel led the first session. It wasn't all perfect for the Australian though as he suffered an electrical problem late in the afternoon. McLaren were off the pace and Lewis Hamilton had many trips off the circuit. He struggled particularly at the new Abbey corner, which was quite bumpy and there were lots of drivers going wide there as well as the slow speed loop section. This should be easier as the track, which started dusty, improves but the Abbey bump will remain and nailing it in Q3 will be key in the battle for pole position tomorrow.
Breaking news tonight is that McLaren will not run their new exhaust system for the rest of the weekend and that the previous spec version will be on their car for the remainder of the weekend. It a real hit to threir hopes of home glory this weekend. It looks like it should be a Red Bull domination if we have a 'normal' race. Ferrari will have blown exhausts and F-Ducts on their cars and will hope they can show the strong pace that they believe they had in Valencia but were unable to display. Mercedes had a decent run aswell though they have tended to run well on Fridays before slipping down the order. Force India seem to benefit from their SRW, especially Adrian Sutil and Williams also looked strong as they look to built on their great result in Valencia. Vitaly Petrov will be keen to be in the fight for Q3 as rumours that Kimi Raikkonen, who had a big crash in the WRC today, could replace him next year.
Virgin and Lotus both had good days with major new developments for their cars. Lotus had reliabilty issues throughout the day though, including engine and power steering problems. A lot of attention was on HRT. They dropped Bruno Senna on Thursday evening and replaced him with Sakon Yamamoto who has raced 14 times in F1 with Super Aguri and Spkyer. It seem that it was a money issue but the team announced that Senna was still part of the team. It is a bit of a mystery and a real shame for the Brazilian. He seemed unaware as the news was breaking, tweeting about going around the track with Karun Chandhok. His F1 future is certainly under some doubt for now.
So it looks set to be another Vettel/Webber battle for pole. With rain unlikely for Saturday or Sunday, the Red Bull team will feel confident of a 1-2. However this season has produced enough twists and turns to make assumptions foolish. Ferrari and McLaren will want to get amongst the action and the modfield battle will be fierce. The new layout is testing for the drivers so producing when it counts will be vital. Qualifying starts at 1pm tomorrow.