sport

Mixed fortunes for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in second practice for the British GP on Friday - although it was an afternoon of mixed fortunes for the Mercedes driver after an engine problem cut his session short.

Hamilton is hoping he can start eating into the 29-point lead Nico Rosberg currently holds at Silverstone this weekend but despite setting the headline time midway through the session, he heads into the weekend on the defensive after pulling off the track exiting Village Corner.

It seemed as though the 2008 World Champion's W05 suffered a loss of power and Mercedes are investigating the issue. With Hamilton completing 14 laps in total and unable to complete his long run, he also lacks valuable data with which he and his engineers can perfect car set-up work - a particularly difficult task this weekend given the strong winds gusting across the Northamptonshire circuit.

\"I lost the long-run part of the session and so lost 20 or so laps of finding out how the car feels on heavy fuel loads,\" he told Sky Sports News later. \"But I can change around and compromise some of my running tomorrow and get in a long run.

Hamilton might have won four races in a row earlier in the season to briefly take the World Championship lead off his team-mate but he's also had more than his share of mechanical misfortune and the sight of him returning to the Silverstone paddock as Rosberg continued to reel off lap after lap did seem, it must be said, awfully familiar.

Even so, prior to his latest setback Hamilton managed to set a time of 1:34.508 around the 5.891km track to go about 0.2s quicker than Rosberg. As was the case in P1, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was third fastest about 0.7s off the ultimate pace with Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel fourth and fifth respectively.

Standing trackside at the super-fast Maggots/Becketts complex of corners, Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle said that, in his opinion, the Red Bulls were far and away the best cars in terms of grip. However, the one-second gap between Hamilton and Ricciardo - who himself managed just 11 laps - reveals the stark power deficit that exists between Mercedes and Renault.

"Today the car behaved better in medium-high speed corners," Ricciardo said. "On the prime [tyre] it was really, really good; with the option we could definitely do better there. So again there's some positives.

\"If we get it all together tomorrow we should be closer to the Mercedes' and hopefully ahead of the Ferraris as well."

Next up was Valtteri Bottas, whose Williams had to be fitted with a new power unit after Susie Wolff - who replaced the Finn in P1 - .

Bottas' afternoon was not without its difficulties, though, with the engine cover on his FW36 flapping loose right at the end of the session. But he still completed more running than Felipe Massa, who missed the opening 20 minutes as Williams completed repairs following his heavy crash during the morning. The Brazilian wound up 11th fastest.

"It's been a difficult day," Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds said later. "A great weekend in Austria and today we've been like a dog running after a rabbit, trying to chase down our problems.

"Engine problems this morning; power unit problems. We were running the engine right up past the end of its life and it was a risk we decided to take and it didn't come off. Accident fr om Felipe, bodywork problems this afternoon."

The top ten was completed by McLaren pair Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso - the Frenchman suffering a hairy moment at Abbey corner when his car's left-front wheel detached itself.

Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend begins with Friday Practice from 9.45am on July 4.