A good start for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas led the way in both Friday practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.
Despite the team being in the lead, there was less than a second covering the top eight drivers following FP2 with Vettel admitting that his closest rival team, Mercedes did in fact have the upper hand.
“I think Mercedes had the upper hand today, they looked very quick in all conditions but I think it was a tricky Friday.”
Starting off with FP1, both drivers seemed to be a lot happier with the car due to a new aero upgrade which the team have added. Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets – just 0.27s quicker than his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton – It’s been a good day so far – pretty straightforward with no real issues. There are not many corners here in Austria; it’s a very fast track and it’s very close between all the tyres. The harder tyre seems to be the better for me.”
At what is the team’s home circuit, it was a Red Bull sandwich as Max Verstappen looked confident around the track – claiming P3. His team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo on the other hand was a little bit further back than he would have liked, setting a time worthy of P5 with Sebastian Vettel splitting the two in P4.
A lot of drivers were caught out around the circuit with many of the suffering spins – Verstappen and Leclerc are two of the drivers in question who both managed to survive. The weather was yet again a talking point, threatening to make an appearance however it just held off. We did see a few drops here and there.
Charles Leclerc is a driver that everyone is talking about, despite being in his debut season in the sport, he’s setting times worthy of P9 which is a great result for Sauber who normally are further back on the timesheets.
Romain Grosjean is a driver that has had an unlucky start to his season with a few odd incidents along the way however today, in FP1 he looked positive in P7 whereas his team-mate Kevin Magnussen (known as the ‘bad boy of F1) was a little bit further back in P12.
Another team which is struggling this season, despite having a good start is McLaren. Fernando Alonso could only manage P17 with his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in P18 following FP1.
Stepping away from all the frustrations, Fernando Alonso is rather happy with the additional DRS zone on the Red Bull Ring, saying – “Having the additional DRS zone is a good step…..hopefully it will provide more overtaking in the race.”
Here’s how the results were following FP1.
P1 – Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES – 1:04.839
P2 – Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES – 1:04.966 +0.127s
P3 – Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.072 +0.233s
P4 – 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:05.180 +0.341s
P5 – Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.483 +0.644s
P6 – Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:05.776 +0.937s
P7 – Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:06.028 +1.189s
P8 – Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.055 +1.216s
P9 – Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:06.215 +1.376s
P10 – Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:06.394 +1.555s
P11 – Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:06.400 +1.561s
P12 – Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:06.404 +1.565s
P13 – Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:06.427 +1.588s
P14 – Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.455 +1.616s
P15 – Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:06.479 +1.640s
P16 – Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.567 +1.728s
P17 – Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:06.612 +1.773s
P18 – Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:06.698 +1.859s
P19 – Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:06.871 +2.032s
P20 – Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:07.424 +2.585s
Moving onto FP2 – it was a lot tougher for all the drivers as less than a second covered the top eight drivers.
Again, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team looked on form with Lewis Hamilton setting his best time on the soft compounds.
As mentioned above, many of the drivers were caught out during the session with Pierre Gasly being one of them – mounting the kerb and breaking his suspension. Thanks to the speedy work from the Toro Rosso team, Gasly was able to come back out setting a time for P9.
During FP2, Sebastian Vettel looked a lot stronger just edging out the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who was his ex-team mate and on the cards for a move the Ferrari should Kimi Raikkonen retire.
A relaxed day for the ‘Ice Man’ who says “we have some work to do to find the right set up tomorrow, like at any other race.” His time placed him in P6.
Esteban Ocon is a driver who’s well respected in the paddock and despite showing potential during the weekend, he’s had to retire from the last three races and following FP2, this is what he had to say – “We were expecting some rain today so it’s quite a relief to have two dry sessions. We completed lots of laps and just worked through the programme. It was all pretty normal, trying the test items, improving the set-up and understanding the tyres.”
Another team which is really struggling this year is Williams and it doesn’t look like their run of bad-luck will be leaving them anytime soon as Lance Stroll was right at the back of the timesheets however was still positive about the weekend ahead – “I think it was a god day……This morning I had a bit of downshift problem going into third and then we lost radio communication, so I just boxed in case it was something but it was fine as the team was on top of it.”
On the other side of the garage, Sergey Sirotkin was back in his seat for FP2 as Robert Kubica drove the car in FP1.
Here, you can see the times following FP2.
P1 – Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:04.579 37
P2 – Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:04.755 +0.176s
P3 – Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:04.815 +0.236s
P4 – Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.031 +0.452s
P5 – Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.125 +0.546s
P6 – Kimi Räikkönen FERRAR 1:05.265 +0.686s
P7 – Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:05.429 +0.850s
P8 – Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI1:05.559 +0.980s
P9 – Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:05.758 +1.179s
P10 – Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:05.930 +1.351s
P11 – Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:05.999 +1.420s
P12 – Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:06.096 +1.517s
P13 – Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.133 +1.554s
P14 – Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:06.199 +1.620s
P15 – Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:06.273 +1.694s
P16 – Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.326 +1.747s
P17 – Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:06.332 +1.753s
P18 – Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.354 +1.775s
P19 – Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:06.429 +1.850s
P20 – Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.626 +2.047s