The Friday in F1 Australian GP wasn’t a clean run across the two sessions where rain also played a part making FP3 an important session to come.
It wasn’t the smooth running on Friday of F1 Australian GP especially at a time when the debate is on whether a race weekend needs three practice sessions or not. The grip level was low in FP1 which saw multiple offs, even by both the Red Bull drivers.
The soft tyre wasn’t providing the grip and traffic only added to the mayhem. The troubles increased after lack of GPS data which was caused by a faulty server. The session had to be red-flagged for safety requirement as it led to loss of key dry running.
With FP2 being rained off for most part, the true pace couldn’t be ascertain but Red Bull remains strong at the front with the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes behind. While others are not hugely bothered but Fernando Alonso wishes for a dry weekend.
Verstappen: “I mean, to be honest, it was not even so much about the car, it was just very low grip out there. The tarmac seems to be really slippery, already last year, and it’s quite tough to switch on the tyres. When you want to go out and immediately push it’s really difficult, then with the interruptions and red flags, like we had, you never really get into a rhythm. But we’ll look over the data tonight, see what we have to do for tomorrow, make the right choices, and I think the car will be competitive. I think it was alright. It’s a bit difficult to tell. I think we never really got into a window where I felt like we were on top of the tyres, so that’s a bit of studying to do for tonight, but it should be okay.”
Leclerc: “I feel like the feeling is a bit better than the other races, so that is positive. It is probably our most positive FP2 of the season, which doesn’t mean much, but at least it is a Friday that finishes on a positive note. Now we need to work, do another step in the right direction tomorrow and hopefully we will be a bit closer to the Red Bulls tomorrow in qualifying, and especially during the race. In quali I think it will be close once again. In the race, unfortunately with the rain in FP2, nobody did the high fuel runs, so on that we are going a little bit blind into the race. Maybe in FP3 we’ll see a bit more long runs and hopefully we’ll manage to learn a bit more there.”
Alonso: “It was good. I think in FP1, we concentrated on some test items that we wanted to tick the box on and then in FP2… it was just a 20-minute dry session only. So, still some jobs to do tomorrow, especially on the tyres into the race, on long runs that we were obviously missing today. But so far, I think the car seems to behave well, so let’s see tomorrow. I think the forecast is dry, so I think ideally we will prefer dry conditions because we’ve only driven this car in dry conditions in Jeddah and in Bahrain. A dry race will be welcome from our side, but I think we should be ready for all conditions.”
Hamilton: “This morning was good; this afternoon wasn’t so good. The car felt a little bit better this morning, we made some changes, they didn’t work, so we’ll revise those tonight. Then it rained obviously so it wasn’t the best of sessions. You don’t really learn a huge amount when it’s between conditions, so just keep the car safe. We won’t be competing against the Red Bulls. It will just be about trying to see if we can get up as high as possible. I think we’ve got pace to be around fifth place area, same as the last race.”
The rest of the Top 10 feature McLaren and Alpine in what was a better show from the former, especially Lando Norris. His teammate Oscar Piastri was thereabouts in his first home race, as the Alpine pair are optimistic about their chances for points.
AlphaTauri seemed a bit better but Yuki Tsunoda’s gravel moment left him with no new floor which was damaged. They are in the mix with Haas and Williams, where both showed pace but it isn’t clear. Electrical issues left Logan Sargeant with no FP2 running.
Alfa Romeo were down in the standings too but they are cautiously optimistic of the gains made as they trialed new parts as part of their update. For all the 19 runners, it was the first chance to run the intermediate tyres for F1 2023 as well.
Norris: “Actually, it was a productive day. FP1, we kind of sacrificed a lot of it just to do some aero runs. That’s why I didn’t do a lot of running for the first half, more [to] future work that stuff for this weekend. But apart from that FP2 was my first proper few runs on the hard tyre, which is a tricky tyre. So far, so good. Hard to say because I didn’t do the most amount of running. But, from the little I did, I think it was a good reading, good understanding, and decent feeling for tomorrow.”
Gasly: “It’s been a reasonable Friday for us today and I’ve been pleased with the running we managed to complete. It was not a smooth day in terms of being on-track due to the red flag in the first session and then the rain in the second session, so we definitely have a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow and we will need to be decisive in the car set-up. I felt good in the car, and I think we’re in a decent position ahead of the rest of the weekend. It looks like it will be dry tomorrow and Sunday, so we’ll need to maximise tomorrow’s Free Practice 3 to be in good shape for Qualifying in the afternoon.”
Bottas: “We showed some progress from the first to the second session, both in terms of feeling with the car and of pace. It is a little tricky here with the traffic, as it’s a narrow track and there aren’t many places where to give way, but it has been the same for everybody this morning. Both sessions have been a bit mixed; I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance of the car during FP1, but we changed the setup ahead of FP2 and tested the new nose and front wing with positive results. Overall, I am feeling good ahead of the weekend: there is still some work to do and some time to find, but we are on the right path.”
Tsunoda: “We started with a difficult FP1 as I struggled with the rear, but I’m happy with our FP2 performance. There was traffic in FP1 caused by GPS issues which caused me to slow down a lot in the last sector, meaning the tyres were not up to temperature when I started my quick lap and I experienced a lack of grip. We don’t know exactly where we are compared to the rest of the field, but we will concentrate on what we have to do as a team to be able to put it together for tomorrow. It will be close and we are aiming for Q3, but first through to Q2. The midfield is tight so any small mistakes are costly, but the car is better than last year, so once we’ve reviewed the data, we see what we can do about tomorrow.”
Here’s FIA rule clarification: https://formularapida.net/fia-clarifies-penalty-rule-and-widens-grid-box-after-jeddah-findings/
Here’s how FP1 in F1 Australian GP panned out
Here’s how FP2 in F1 Australian GP panned out