Nico Rosberg’s recent misfortunes continued in his buildup to Sunday’s British Grand Prix .
The Mercedes driver, who was leading last week’s Austrian Grand Prix when he collided with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the final lap, was unable to take part in the second practice session because of a water leak that required the floor of his car to be removed.
He looked ready to join in with 53 minutes still remaining but was instructed to abort and had to look on as Hamilton posted the fastest time, followed by Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was also quickest in the first session, when Rosberg finished only fourth. It was an almost perfect day’s preparation for the British driver.
Meanwhile Jenson Button, preparing for what could be his last British Grand Prix, finished 12th and ninth in the two sessions.
Button is out of contract with McLaren and at 36 is not expected to be offered a fresh deal by the team. There is much speculation that he could join Williams next year but beyond that his chances of remaining in Formula One look slim.
His home race remains something of a jinx for him, for he has not achieved even a podium place in 16 attempts since 2000. And that is incredibly unlikely to happen here on Sunday . He said: “I obviously wish I had better results here, but you have to take what you are given. I’ve got very close to the podium a couple of times. There was that time I was second and the wheel fell off in 2011.
“It’s just been unfortunate. You always want to celebrate with the supporters. The fans are awesome and there is always such a good festival vibe that makes it such a special race. We need more GPs like this. There’s more of a buzz now and I enjoy it even more every time I come here.”
He denied that his passion for the sport had dipped. “I wouldn’t have finished sixth in the last race if that was the case. I still have the challenge of racing alongside Fernando and the project is still really exciting, how it is developing.”
But there was a valedictory tone in his voice when he spoke about McLaren. “I will only be racing next year if I am in a car that is competitive. I have enjoyed the journey the last year and a half – but there is a point where you feel you have done enough and you can’t give any more to the project to help it move forward.”
Before the practice sessions, Ferrari confirmed that Raikkonen would be remaining with the team for another season. The Finn’s chances of landing a fourth year in his second spell with the team had looked in considerable doubt after a run of indifferent results. Raikkonen, who won Ferrari’s last world championship in 2007, will be driving for the team for the seventh year.
In his most recent spell there he has been outdriven by Alonso in 2014 and by Vettel last year and this. But Ferrari’s hopes of signing Ricciardo or Verstappen have been dashed because of their contracts with Red Bull.
Vettel said: “I think it was the right call. We know our primary target is to catch up so we need to be all aligned and pushing in the same direction. With Kimi, there is no politics. We put our own egos aside, which is good for the team.”
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