RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull's Max Verstappen continued his flying start to the Styrian Grand Prix weekend as he topped FP2 at the Red Bull Ring, ahead of McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo and Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

    Conditions were tough on Friday: thick dark clouds loomed threateningly and a stiff tailwind blew multiple drivers off the track at Turn 3. But bar a few spots of rain, conditions remained mostly dry and Verstappen set the benchmark of 1m05.412s halfway through the session.

    After he was quickest in FP1 on Friday morning, the Dutchman began by clocking up unrivalled mileage on hard tyres, then used the softs to eclipse McLaren's Ricciardo by 0.336s, to go fastest with just over 30 minutes remaining. Alpine's Ocon finished third, just 0.042s behind Ricciardo.

    FP1: Verstappen heads Gasly in opening Styrian GP practice at the Red Bull Ring

    Lewis Hamilton finished fourth, barely a hundredth behind Ocon, while Valtteri Bottas finished 12th. Mercedes had their drivers on split programmes, the Finn beginning on softs and ending on hards contrary to Hamilton. Bizarrely, Bottas spun exiting his pit box with 18 minutes remaining – with McLaren's crew kindly pushing him back on track.

    AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, runner-up in FP1, was prevented from running in FP2 as Honda noticed a problem with his power unit ahead of the session.

    Formula 1 BWT Grosser Preis Der Steiermark 2021

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    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:05.412
    2 Daniel Ricciardo RIC McLaren +0.336s
    3 Esteban Ocon OCO Alpine +0.378s
    4 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.384s
    5 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine +0.415s

    Ocon's Alpine team mate Fernando Alonso finished under a tenth off Hamilton in P5, and a tenth faster than Aston Martin racer Sebastian Vettel. In turn, Vettel's team mate Lance Stroll was eighth in this session – McLaren's Lando Norris splitting them for seventh.

    That left Red Bull's Sergio Perez ninth, just ahead of Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi, with the top 10 split by just seven-tenths, P2 to P10 split by four-tenths of a second.

    WATCH: Carlos Sainz spins at Turn 1 and blocks pit exit in first practice for Styrian GP

    Ferrari's Carlos Sainz spun at Turn 5 early on in FP2 but carried on to finish 11th, just ahead of Bottas, who found himself sandwiched by Ferraris as Charles Leclerc took 13th.

    Kimi Raikkonen was the last driver within a second of Verstappen, putting his Alfa Romeo 14th – just over a tenth behind his 10th-place team mate.

    2021 Styrian GP FP2: Big spin for Sainz at Red Bull Ring

    Fifth place in FP1, Yuki Tsunoda could only put his AlphaTauri 15th in FP2 – ahead of Williams' George Russell in P16.

    Haas's pair lined up 17th and 18th, Mick Schumacher half a second faster than Nikita Mazepin. The Russian spun at Turn 5 – mirroring Sainz by collecting too much gravel on the outside of that tricky downhill corner.

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    Just before Mazepin's incident, Nicholas Latifi spun his Williams at Turn 6 just 20 minutes in by collecting the gravel at high speed – but he avoided the barriers. Latifi finished last of the runners, in 19th, as Gasly was confined to the pit wall throughout the session.

    Mercedes will have one eye on Verstappen and one eye on the sky as the clouds threaten to unleash rain over the Red Bull Ring – and the Dutchman threatens to continue his Championship-leading pace. FP3 beckons at 1200 local time on Saturday before qualifying at 1500. Stay tuned for live coverage and reaction on F1.com.

    FP2 Highlights: 2021 Styrian Grand Prix