The Friday in F1 Styrian GP ended up being a bit of an anti-climax, especially with no rain, despite the forecast, which allowed for solid running.
Among the Top 2 teams – Mercedes and Red Bull – it was a close outing after Friday running in F1 Styrian GP, where despite Max Verstappen’s fastest times in FP1 and FP2, the Dutchman noted that their German rivals seemed quick all-through.
Verstappen’s reason was Lewis Hamilton’s fast lap deletion in FP2, but the Brit seemed convinced that Red Bull has larger pace, whether qualifying and or races. The weather, though, could play a role as rain is still predicted for both the days.
Verstappen: “In the second practice Lewis was faster but his lap time got deleted, so it looks a bit different, I think, than what’s shown at the moment. But I think overall it’s been quite good for us, of course a few things still to look into but overall I’m quite happy with where the car is at the moment. If his lap time is possible already in FP2, I’m sure towards qualifying – well, we have to wait and see what the weather will do – but overall again I think it will be very tight.”
Hamilton: “I think one of my laps got taken away and it was a lot closer, so yes, it’s close. As I said particularly in the race pace, Red Bull were really, really strong and they’re punching – they’re throwing some really good punches right now – so we’ve just got to have our guards up, you know? And make sure we’re ready for the return. I will do everything I can during the evening to make the right steps in the right direction but generally, kind of eking most of it out of the car and I think – I don’t know if it’s a four-tenths gap – we’ll see what happens.”
It was not a good end to Valtteri Bottas’ day after a spin in the pitlane earned him a three-place drop for F1 Styrian GP. Mercedes tried a trick to leave the pit box on second gear, but it led the Finn into a spin in the pitlane, right in front of the McLaren mechanics.
While Bottas thought, that the stewards will not penalise him, but they took a difference stance, especially with the safety on the mind, where the McLaren F1 mechanics were all out of the pit garage and any slip-up could have resulted in a mishap.
On Red Bull’s side, Sergio Perez revealed that they went for a different set-up, which eventually cost him time, not only to Verstappen but also other F1 outfits. The Mexican said that ovenight, they will work to find the sweet option and go with it.
Bottas: “I would be surprised if there is any penalty. It’s a normal mistake, it happens, but yes, I’m sure they’ll understand what happened. I spun. We tried something different getting out from the box and yes, there were some variables to what we normally do with the wheelspin and that’s why I spun.”
Moving onto the mid-pack, it was once again a mix of F1 teams, with McLaren, Alpine and AlphaTauri in the front, where Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin were close as well. From among them, three teams managed to earn a Top 3 spot.
First up in FP1 was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who did no laps in FP2 after Honda found a sensor issue ahead of the session. The Frenchman couldn’t collect as much data and will have to rely on Yuki Tsunoda, who had a decent running but admitted to be struggling for the balance, especially on the long run pace.
It will be a task for both, while McLaren saw Daniel Ricciardo end up second in FP2 – the Australian’s first time in a Top 3 with his new F1 team. He felt pretty solid after Friday as teammate Lando Norris concurred, where they focused to get more from qualifying run.
Ricciardo: “It feels alright. I know it’s only Friday but for sure, I’d rather be in the top three than 10th saying we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight. So I think we do a bit of fine-tuning, but we’re certainly not lost. Far from lost actually, so I think we’re in a good place. Obviously low fuel pace was good this afternoon. I think we definitely picked something up from the morning. The high fuel, probably a little more to find relative to low fuel but definitely a productive afternoon.”
The third wheel in this pack was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who ended up third in FP2. His teammate Fernando Alonso was not far off either. But as the trend has been, the French F1 manufacturer does well to start the weekend, before they drop down the order.
Both were pleased by their runs, but only time will tell how quick they can be. They certainly will have the challenge from Ferrari duo, who had a mixed run. While Carlos Sainz talked about learning the compounds, Charles Leclerc felt the F1 team’s race pace seemed a bit better than their qualifying – which is opposite from recent trend.
Leclerc: “We learned a lot, having tried many solutions. Our long run pace seems quite competitive compared to our closest rivals. Where we did struggle a bit was with our qualifying pace, which it is not usually the case, so we will have to concentrate on this. It’s hard to say if we have found the way to get the tyres to work at their best but we look in better shape when compared to the previous race. There’s still a question mark over the weather, as it could rain and also be cooler and that could make the situation even more complicated.”
On Aston Martin’s side, Sebastian Vettel felt encouraged by their one lap pace, which has been lacking in recent times. On race pace, the German thought they could do more, while Lance Stroll concurred his teammate’s sentiments. For Alfa Romeo, it was another solid Friday running, even though Kimi Raikkonen just had one session.
Antonio Giovinazzi had enough pace to be in the Top 10 but noted that they need some more, while Robert Kubica admitted that it took him some laps to get going. For Williams, on George Russell’s side, it was another work towards Q2, while Nicholas Latifi got a bit greedy and stepped on the gas to spin around.
For Haas, it was another day of learning, where both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin felt good with the car. Off-track, team boss Guenther Steiner talked about the German’s crooked seat, about which he only came to know from his mother.
“Actually the first time I found out his mum told me in France, that there was something up with the seat,” said Steiner to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I said, ‘I’m not aware of it’, but then I think it’s another thing which has just escalated, because I would say he wants to make a new seat. But he said it himself that there is no urgency.
“I think he’s not completely straight, which means maybe there is some pressure or something. But he’s not sitting at 45 degrees, or his body’s not completely twisted, or the car is not straight. So I think there’s just a little bit of [an offset] because Sebastian looked in the car and then it was made a big story out of it, which I’m fine with.
“But I wasn’t even aware until his mum told me about that, so it cannot be this bad. We will make him a seat as soon as he wants one, and when he thinks we are in the right position to do so.”
Here’s how FP1 of F1 Styrian GP panned out
Here’s how FP2 of F1 Styrian GP panned out