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Drivers not won over by new layout

Silverstone Formula 1 drivers have not been won over by the changes made to Silverstone - as Sebastian Vettel even likened running over the bumps to 'falling off a chair'.

The new Arena circuit was used for the first time during Friday's free practice session at Silverstone but a slippery and bumpy surface, especially at the new Abbey section, caused a number of problems.

Vettel said about the bumps: "I think everyone is struggling over the bumps. It seems like you are falling off your chair, but fortunately we have seat belts!

"I don't quite understand because you enter the new section and it's a new bit of asphalt, so it should be flat. But it's quite a big bump and I think everyone struggled: some people more, some less. But it's not comfortable that's for sure."

Speaking about the new infield layout, he said: "It's not bad. It doesn't suit the traditional Silverstone because it's quite low speed. But it's not that slow, not as slow as I expected. And it doesn't kill the rhythm - that's the most important thing.

"It's good that we still have the old bits and the proper corners, and it adds something new to the track so it's an extra challenge."

Speaking to AUTOSPORT about the new layout, Heikki Kovalainen said: "It's okay but personally if I could choose I would prefer the old one.

"I think Bridge Corner and the Priory Corner were really cool corners, and this new circuit is nothing too exciting. It is nothing too special.

"The fast right-hand corner is quite cool, but there is quite a big bump so you hang on over the bump and then it is quite straightforward with bumping and braking and the slow right-left.

"We will see. If it improves overtaking then fantastic but otherwise I don't find it too exciting. I have no strong feelings either way, but if I could choose I would choose the other one."

When asked if he felt the new configuration would help overtaking, Kovalainen said: " I think it is possible. It seems that the right hand corner is such a corner that you could probably follow the car better than through Copse.

"You don't need to lift so much, so as long as you can keep close to the car in front, then you should be able to outbrake and take a different line. I think there is potentially a better overtaking place but let's see in the race."

Renault's Robert Kubica was less convinced about the improvements saying that he did not really like the changes.

"It is slippery, it is bumpy, I think less challenging so I am surprised," he said. "But whatever the reason was behind it, it is the same for everybody. It will be for sure a great race. As always Silverstone is an amazing track, especially the first sector that stays the same, so it is still fun to drive around here.

"I think more challenging was the old circuit there were some nice sections. Here this new loop is slower. There are a few high speed corners, but what is surprising is that the bump is very bumpy on the new section, slippery and quite dusty so not as quick or as fun as the old days."

Lewis Hamilton added: "It is bumpy - probably a bit more bumpy on our car for some reason, so that's what we are trying to fix. But otherwise it's very fast, very flowing.

"I don't think it upsets the swing of the track or anything. Like I've always said, it's a bit different turning right into Abbey instead of going left to a chicane. It's still very fast and still picking up grip bit-by-bit. There is a big bump going into Turn 11, but that just makes it more exciting."

Some drivers were happier with the changes, however.

Mark Webber said: "They got it right. I don't know who chalked up this track but whoever did got the angles right to make it difficult. It's tricky in places, whoever had the pencil did a good job."

Fernando Alonso added: "The track is better, more fun for the drivers to drive. More safe to drive as well, so I really like the new part of the track and we will put on a good show for everybody on the new layout."

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