Nico Rosberg satisfied with practice performance

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Nico Rosberg stormed to the top of the timesheets in the second free practice session for the British Grand Prix and although the Mercedes driver is pleased with his performance, he conceded that there is still work to do.

“It’s been a good day pace wise, for sure,” Rosberg explained. “For qualifying, I think I can do the job again. That’s a nice start to the weekend.”

Once again though, Rosberg admitted that he was struggling with the W04’s long run pace which saw him fail to convert pole position into a victory at the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix.

“We did a long run this afternoon and it was looking- okay not great and that’s going to be the big challenge for us, long runs on this track.”

Rosberg did confirm that some of the upgrades applied to the car were intended to aid its tire wear.

“There are further pieces again that are on the car to help with tire degradation, we hope it’s the right thing to do. Today was difficult to learn much about it but we’ll see as the weekend goes on and especially in the race. I’m sure we’re on the right track.”

Indeed, the wet weather curtailed running in FP1 and made any evaluation impossible. Rosberg did extend his sympathy to the fans who had braved the conditions, although he also made his reservations over the FIA’s introduction of an ‘FP1 tire’ for next season clear.

“It was a bit disappointing for the fans today. They paid a lot of money and then we don’t run, so it would be worth looking into that [extra set of tires].

“But what to do, I don’t know, because we already have that extra set of tires as it is. It’s just the fact that we don’t really want to risk things going out in the wet when it’s going to be dry all weekend and it’s things like engine degredation. We only have a limited amount of engines for the season, and any extra laps that we do, we lose power, so you don’t want to do any useless laps on the engine either.”

It is clear that, once again, Mercedes will be competitive in qualifying, but as they have already found out this season, it means little if the race pace is not there on Sunday.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.