Sebastian Vettel believes an emphasis on tyre management could be crucial to ending what he called Mercedes' "magic" at the British GP this weekend.
In the first session at Silverstone, it appeared like the dominance of recent years would continue as Lewis Hamilton led Valtteri Bottas in a comfortable 1-2. As the heatwave temperatures reached their peak in the afternoon though it was the German and Ferrari who moved to the front.
With the hot conditions expected to continue across the weekend, the near two-tenth advantage Vettel had over Hamilton does mean the Briton's unbeaten run at home since 2014 is under threat. Although the 31-year-old did admit it was important to put down a marker.
“It’s been a good Friday," he said. “We try to kill their magic. Obviously, that’s what we have tried over the last years and I think here and there we have succeeded quite well.
“It’s true that they are very strong around here and we expect them to be very strong tomorrow. But I hope we can be there and I hope we can be close as historically, [Silverstone] has not been a very strong track for us."
Along with Mercedes' known strength in high-speed corners, many believed the use of the thinner-treaded Pirelli tyres that Hamilton won so easily with at Barcelona and Paul Ricard would offer the same advantage again.
Such are the conditions though, Vettel suggests that may not be the case at Silverstone.
"The tyres are hot, too hot!" he claimed, "But I think it's the same for all of us. Obviously the magic this weekend will be to try and keep them as cool as possible."
Also helping is the latest upgrades Ferrari have brought, including a new floor.
"Everything we put on the car seemed to work," Vettel stated. "It's a small step in the right direction, but more important was that the balance was there right away and I felt a good rhythm from the start of the day.
"This track may not see us as favourites, but with regard to last year I think our car has more potential," he added. "It’s up to us to find the way to get the most out of it."
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