What the teams said – Friday in Styria
An interesting day for the team, who might have expected to be ahead of the field after their imperious display last weekend. They had an excuse in first practice, choosing to run the medium compound tyres whilst their rivals ran the softs, but roll on FP2 and with plenty of speculation that the weather could wipe out Saturday and leave these times deciding the grid, the Silver Arrows seemed to go for it. But it was not to be, with Bottas beaten into second by Verstappen and Hamilton struggling with the balance of his W11 and winding up in sixth. If qualifying can run in the wet though, expect the reigning world champion to be right in the mix.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:05.120, P4; FP2: 1:04.348, P6
"It felt relatively normal out there today, but the pace was quite far off, so we have a lot of work to do this evening to try and figure out why. I was feeling good in FP1 and the start of FP2 felt pretty good too, but then it started to drop off. Others out there looked quick and Valtteri has good pace. It seems like the field is bunching up a bit more, but it's always tough to read into what happened in practice. We've got some work to do, to look into the data and find out what's going on. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be in a better position. It looks set to be wet tomorrow, but it's fun to be out there in those conditions so hopefully we can still drive in the rain."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:05.089, P3; FP2: 1:03.703, P2
"It was a very useful day of practice. We had quite a few things to try after last weekend. FP1 was mainly looking into whether we had fixed the reliability concerns from last Sunday. The team is still looking into that, but I think we have made some progress. We made some good set-up tweaks and I tried to use the learnings from last weekend, in terms of one-lap pace and driving style over a race distance. We are all getting to know this track pretty well now, but still it's always good fun to be on track here. I still feel really good in the car, which is good news, but in the end the next two days are the ones that count."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's been a busy week in the factory trying to understand and produce a solution for the electrical issues we had throughout last weekend. New looms arrived in time for the car build on Wednesday and they ran successfully today. We'd like a bit more running before we conclude that it's resolved, but it certainly seems to have improved our situation. On today's programme, first practice was quite straightforward. We had a few test items on the car, along with some high-downforce parts in preparation for Budapest.
"The second session wasn't so simple. We'd all received an email from Michael Masi at the FIA to say that the lap times for FP2 could be used to make up the grid, in the unlikely event we cannot run on Saturday or Sunday morning. That meant everyone was trying a bit harder, so we dropped the fuel a bit and pulled another set of softs from Saturday to Friday. But on reflection, we should have gone a bit further. For Valtteri, the car was less easy to drive than last week but not by much. We created a bit more degradation on the long runs, so we need to understand where that's coming from. But it shouldn't be too hard to solve.
"Lewis had a more difficult day, particularly in the second session. The car wasn't able to get close to the pace he had last Friday on both the single-lap and long runs. So, we've got some work to do tonight, to try and understand where the performance has gone. But we've already found a few clues that we'll dig into over the course of the evening. The weather doesn't look great tomorrow and we've hardly run this car in the wet, so it could be an interesting day if conditions allow qualifying to go ahead."
Verstappen complained about a loss of power on a mixed day for the team at their home circuit. The Dutchman did look quick though and topped second practice which could prove crucial if the rain arrives tomorrow. As for Albon, he struggled with understeer through the slower corners, and spun twice to boot. The Thai driver was perhaps guilty of pushing too hard in a bid to catch up to his team mate.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:04.963, P2; FP2: 1:03.660, P1
“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer to drive and we have made a good step. It is only Friday Practice and of course it is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but from our side I think we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and I think we are heading the right way which I’m pleased about. We have to see what will happen tomorrow with the weather but otherwise we will find out where we really are on Sunday. Normally our race pace is more competitive but already over one lap we can’t complain and actually the 11 laps I did in last week’s race didn’t look too bad, so it can only get better. Even if tomorrow the weather is too bad for qualifying I expect we will still have Sunday morning to do it, so I don’t expect to be on pole position with this lap.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:05.483, P6; FP2: 1:04.437, P7
“We’ve been getting a bit creative and trying some different things compared to last week’s running here, some of the changes worked and some didn’t, so it’s a bit of a mixed day. The weather for tomorrow is obviously a bit of an unknown so let’s see what happens and if we’re even driving, as every time it’s rained here it’s been a monsoon. We’ll still treat tonight like any other Friday though and look over the data to see what we can learn ahead of tomorrow. Late in the session I pushed a bit too much on the exit of the corner, nothing serious, and lost the rear. Max obviously had a good session and is comfortable with the car so hopefully we can learn a little bit from his side of the garage and take a step forward.”
After being off the pace last weekend, the Scuderia brought forward some upgrades that they had planned to run in Hungary. They worked to a certain extent for Leclerc, keeping him around the top 10 but Vettel struggled, seeing his fastest lap time deleted for exceeding track limits and failing to nail a second. With race pace that looks similar to the midfield, the team have some head scratching to do tonight to turn this around if they want another podium here in Austria.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:05.770, P10; FP2: 1:05.613, P16
"Today the car felt a lot better than last week. Right from the start, it was a different car and I was just able to get on with it. Now I hope it stays like this. If you look at the time sheet, I got my best lap deleted so obviously it wasn’t a great day for lap times, but there will be rain tomorrow, so we are just preparing in case quali is on Sunday.
"For us, the main thing was testing the upgrades that we brought. We put them on the car step by step and they seemed to work well. We still need to have a look and find the best window where the car is happiest. We tried quite a few things on the brakes and I still need to find the rhythm. Apart from that, we did our usual Friday homework. Let’s see how wet it’s going to be tomorrow, it might mix things up."
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:05.837, P12; FP2: 1:04.706, P9
"We had a difficult day, even though towards the end, we made some progress on high fuel load runs. Let’s see whether tomorrow or on Sunday, depending on the weather, we can also make progress in low fuel conditions.
"There’s potential in the updates we’ve brought here. We need to keep working on them to tune them and define all they can deliver. I am happy about the prospect of rain, so let’s see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully, if it rains, it won’t be too hard, so we’ll still be able to take on the track and see where we can be on the starting grid."
It was a good day for the team in pink, as they looked quick across both sessions. Perez topped FP1, while Stroll saw his quickest times deleted for exceeding track limits. Roll on the afternoon session and they were at it again, with the Mexican just having the edge over his team mate. Were they in full qualifying trim though, or do they have more to come tomorrow? Either way, they’ve raised a few eyebrows in the paddock once again.
Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:04.867, P1; FP2: 1:03.877, P3
“It’s been a promising day. We’ve been chipping away and learning about our car, and that’s been positive so far – exploring where we can make improvements and find performance. It’s very close among the top teams, but we’ve shown that both cars are in the mix for points, just like we were last weekend. Obviously, there’s signs of wet weather tomorrow so let’s wait and see what happens in qualifying.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:05.396, P5; FP2: 1:04.241, P4
“It’s been a good day and I’m happy with the car: the signs are that we look quite competitive. It’s unique circumstances to be racing at the same circuit two weeks in a row. We are getting to know the place extremely well. It’s still early in the season, so we were able to use today’s running to look at ways to improve the car and try some new set up ideas to progress from last weekend. We now need to wait and see what happens with the weather and qualifying, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
Another team to have a topsy turvy day, McLaren’s hero from last Sunday Norris was handed a three-place grid drop for the race after overtaking under yellow flags. He’s held his hands up to the rookie mistake, and it remains to be seen how costly that will be. Sainz had a better day of it in fifth, but the team very much give the impression that they weren’t going flat out today. They might be hoping for dry weather tomorrow to be able to unleash their one-lap pace.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:05.602, P7; FP2: 1:04.333, P5
“Repeating the same track for the second consecutive weekend helped us to compare a few set-ups. I tried a few experimental changes to get on top of the balance issues I had last weekend. Some of them were positive, others not so much, so we still need to keep analysing going into the weekend. It’s a bit of a special Friday because of the risk of qualifying being cancelled tomorrow. Many drivers went out on new tyres and tried to put a good lap-time in just in case. We’ll see what the weather brings, but it could get interesting!”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:05.908, P14; FP2: 1:04.541, P8
“I had a difficult day with a few setbacks. I didn’t complete as many laps as we would’ve liked to because of a couple of problems, but the car still feels good and I think we have decent pace. I think a few other teams have stepped it up a little bit more and extracted more than we could since last weekend, but we’re still in a good place heading into tomorrow and Sunday. The car feels nice and that gives me good confidence, but the conditions are looking like they’ll change for Saturday and Sunday, so we’ve got to be ready for that.”
Andrea Stella, Racing Director
“We had good performance and a good result last weekend, but what we also learned is that the competition is incredibly tight and we need to find every last millisecond of improvement in the MCL35, both for qualifying and race pace.
“So, back on track at the same venue today, we had a comprehensive programme of testing experiments, comprising aerodynamic work, tyres and set-up items. The car ran well, we got through the programme, and this evening, both here in Austria and back at the MTC, the task is to take as much knowledge as we can out of the data to improve the car overnight. The only negative note was a grid penalty for Lando, but we’re confident we can perform well in qualifying – whenever that may be.”
After a quiet start to the day, Renault grabbed headlines in FP2 for the wrong reasons when Ricciardo got it wrong into Turn 9, carrying too much pace and sliding heavily into the barriers. The Aussie was taken to the medical centre but given the okay, but the same can’t be said for the state of his R.S.20 which will need a lot of work. As for Ocon, he managed a decent second practice and was there or thereabouts.
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:05.874, P13; FP2: 1:04.746, P10
“It’s been a great day in terms of learning on our side. Our day ran smoothly, and we completed the planned programme, which was good. It was unfortunate to see Daniel not end the session, but the most important thing is that he is okay from a health point of view. There are a few little things to improve, but there are also some good areas and good points where we know we’re strong. It’s definitely been a useful day and we want more tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:05.769, P9; FP2: No time set, P20
“Unfortunately, it was a very short second session for us. That first push lap was going quite well up until Turn 9. It was a mistake, it all happened very quickly so I’m not sure what went wrong. I turned in and just lost the car straight away. I know these things happen with cars and in Formula 1, so it’s not out of the ordinary. I’m okay, however, I feel bad for the guys. We’ll just move on. The car felt fine this morning, especially towards the end. The second session would have been interesting, so we’ll just have to find out our pace tomorrow or Sunday.”
Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer
“Free Practice 1 went well for both drivers, who ran through some setup work based on what we found here last weekend. They worked through slightly different plans in the morning session, as Daniel missed a lot of high fuel running in the last race with his early retirement. Daniel’s afternoon was short, with an unfortunate spin into Turn 9 into the barrier ending his session. He’s okay, though, and the car will be ready to run again by tomorrow. Esteban had a very productive afternoon, and along with almost all other drivers ran an extra set of soft tyres, brought forward from FP3, because of the high chance of heavy rain throughout Saturday. Overall, it’s been a bit of a mixed day for the team, but the running that we did was productive and good preparation for the rest of the weekend.”
Kvyat spun in first practice but fortunately kept out of the barriers with no lasting harm done. But things were livelier in second practice as the team mates squabbled for track position and what appeared to be an all-important ‘tow' from each other. Gasly seemed the more put out, but as the Frenchman ended up ahead on the timing sheets, probably won’t bear a grudge into tomorrow.
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:05.698, P8; FP2: 1:04.757, P11
“It was a positive Free Practice day for us! FP1 was quite a busy session, but I think we ran all the necessary tests we wanted to do. We tried a different set-up compared to last week, which helped us understand our car a bit better and I feel like we made a step forward. So, all in all it was a good start to the weekend. Let’s see what happens tomorrow with the weather. If qualifying can take place and it’s wet, it could be an exciting one!”
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:05.815, P11; FP2: 1:05.050, P12
“It’s a different Friday today as we do not know whether we’ll be able to hit the track tomorrow or not, so we tried to do a large amount of work. I wasn’t entirely happy with the car and I think we still have to improve. However, this is normal on Fridays, when there’s always something to correct for the rest of the weekend. Let’s concentrate on today’s data to understand what we can do.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance
“After a good first weekend here at the RedBull Ring, we had a busy week preparing the cars. We had a lot of support from the factory and we were able to bring several fixes and updates to the cars for this weekend. Also, it was a unique opportunity for us to race again in the same location, therefore being able to test different things aimed at improving the limitations we had in last week’s race.
"Daniil spent his first free practice evaluating our new aero parts. Unfortunately, some small reliability issues prevented us from gathering all the data, but we could see that the updates we brought were going in the right direction. Pierre had an easier session and was able to test a few things on the setup side.
"Our programme in the second free practice was a bit different to usual. Due to the heavy rain expected for tomorrow and Sunday morning, there’s a real risk of not having a qualifying session. Therefore, we pushed to try and get the best possible performance in FP2, as these times may define the starting grid on Sunday. We did three runs on the option tyres with both drivers, to finish P11 and P12, which is probably where we rank at this stage in the season. Following the quali laps, we started a sequence of long runs during which we again evaluated our different aero configurations. We learnt a lot today and we have a lot of data to analyse now. Overall, this was a positive day and we are looking forward to some rain now to spice up the weekend.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“We are back at the same track as last weekend, when we had some issues with the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars. With the teams, we analysed their causes and together we came up with a solution that we have run today. All four of our cars had a smooth day, but now we will carefully check all the data overnight, including that which relates to the changes we made. As there’s a chance of heavy rain tomorrow, we ran a slightly different programme and it was nice to end up with Max topping the time sheet.”
Kubica jumped back into an F1 cockpit for the first time this season in place of Giovinazzi, the wily Pole gathering plenty of much needed data for the team. Indeed, data was the name of the game in FP1 with flow-vis and aero rakes seen on both cars. Come FP2 and the team put that to good use, showing much better pace than they did seven days ago. An encouraging start to the weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:06.441, P15; FP2: 1:05.152, P13
“It’s still early days in this second weekend here, but we can generally be a bit happier with how things have gone. We have understood the car, and how it behaves, a bit better, and I feel we have made a step forward. Of course, practice means nothing so we will need to wait until tomorrow afternoon to see where we stand. The hope is for a better weekend: it will be crucial to get to the chequered flag as it could be another race of attrition, but the aim is to be stronger and fight for the points.”
Robert Kubica – FP1: 1:06.797, P18
“It’s always a nice feeling to be in an F1 car after such a long time. It’s never easy to jump into any car after five months, but especially so in one as powerful as these. All in all, however, it has been an enjoyable day: the car is quite balanced after last weekend. We did some evaluation work and we tried to improve our package. The team knows where we have to improve, what we see in the data matches what we see on track, so we will need to keep working on extracting the maximum from what we have. For the rest of the weekend, weather conditions may be very different so understanding the best way to get the tyres in their working window will be very important.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP2: 1:05.365, P14
“I like to be racing here for a second week in a row. We have analysed a lot of the data from last weekend and our package seems to be working a little bit better. It’s still too early to know and we still have a long way to go, but we have made some progress. It will be interesting to see what weather conditions we get tomorrow: if it’s cooler or it rains, it would make quite a difference to the set-up. Like last week, the objective is to score points. It’s not going to be easy, but we need to believe in ourselves and give it a good try.”
After a double DNF last weekend, the American outfit were unable to bounce straight back. Magnussen sat out most of first practice with a battery issue, but was able to take part in FP2. But that VF-20 just doesn’t look quick, with the team mates propping up the timing sheets a couple of seconds off the pace. With overheating their downfall last Sunday, will the expected rain help them or hinder them tomorrow?
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:06.446, P16; FP2: 1:06.096, P19
“Today we had a bit of everything sadly. The balance wasn’t great this afternoon, we struggled with a lot of inconsistency. The high temperatures don’t help you when the balance isn’t great. But that’s the same for everyone, we just have to try to work better. We’re looking at all the parts making sure everything is under control. We’re going to try to put something together for the rest of the weekend.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: No time set, P20; FP2: 1:05.790, P18
“I didn’t get much running in FP1 but got a few more laps in this afternoon in FP2. We weren’t really as competitive as we’d hoped for but we’ll keep working on it. I didn’t really have a balance problem, the car felt pretty good to drive. It’s mainly grip and power. That’s very simple but very difficult at the same time. I still feel the car is more competitive in the race than in qualifying, which is encouraging of course. We would obviously like to find a little more qualifying pace, that’s for sure. The weather’s looking a bit iffy for qualifying, there could be a chance there. If there is, we’ll take it.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s been a challenging Friday. We worked on some testing on the brake cooling, obviously, after the problems we had last week. We tried some qualifying runs, as there’s a chance that it’s cancelled tomorrow, and maybe doesn’t even take place on Sunday morning – in which case the FP2 times will count. We don’t really know where we stack up as we don’t know what everyone else was doing. We’ve got a lot of work in front of us over the next weekends. We’ll keep on working hard trying to make it better. On the other side, I don’t think the hot weather helped us today, but we know that can happen. Hopefully things are cooler on Sunday.”
Aitken had his first session proper behind the wheel of an F1 car and acquitted himself well as the sole Williams on track. That was due to Latifi suffering gearbox issues that curtailed his morning. In the afternoon, Russell returned and put together a decent number of laps to wind up a credible 15th, ahead of a Ferrari to boot. Now, if he can just take that form into tomorrow…
George Russell – FP2: 1:05.588, P15
"This morning I was sat on the side lines for FP1 as Jack was in the car. This afternoon wasn’t quite as positive as we were hoping, and the track was absolutely roasting today. We did try a lot of things with the set-up and they weren’t as good as we had hoped.
"However, it was productive to understand why it wasn’t as positive and we learnt from that. I am quite pleased having this back-to-back at the same track, because it has given us the opportunity to try something quite drastic. I would like a nice and consistent rest of the weekend so I can go out there and show what I can do."
Jack Aitken - FP1: 1:06.768, P17
"Driving the FW43 today was simply awesome. Jumping into a Formula One car on a race weekend is always going to put a smile on my face! The first run I was just settling in, but I was able to push on in the second run and started to feel more at home. This is the whole purpose of me doing this as the team’s Reserve Driver.
"It’s a shame Nicky couldn’t run, but we took on some of his run plan and managed to tick a lot of boxes which was great. Overall, I loved driving today, and can’t wait for the next time where I can push even more."
Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:09.598, P19; FP2: 1:05.655, P17
"FP1 was not ideal as I had a gearbox issue, which ended my session after one lap. It is what it is, these things happen. We had quite a busy FP2 programme planned prior to the issue in FP1 because of the unknown with what’s going to happen with the weather tomorrow.
"In general, I was quite pleased with FP2, we tried somethings coming off last weekend, just to try and improve my confidence with the car and it seemed to go in the right direction. My relative pace compared to where I was in qualifying and where I was to George is better now. In general, the changes we made from last weekend and this weekend have helped my confidence in the car and we are going in the right direction."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Nicholas had a frustrating start to the weekend with a gearbox issue early in FP1. This meant that we had to reshuffle the plan for the rest of the day, but we still got through some interesting items.
"Jack Aitken made his debut with the team during FP1 and did an exceptionally good job, showing good pace and control, as well as providing valuable feedback to his engineers. All the preparation we have done with him since returning from the shutdown period paid off and Jack was able to complete a good and varied programme, taking some of the key items from Nicholas after he was forced to stop.
"The mechanics did a good job to rebuild Nicholas’s car with a different gearbox ready for FP2 and, with George back in his car, we were able to complete a full and intense programme. With the weather forecast looking bleak for tomorrow, we, like most teams, took the opportunity to use an extra set of the qualifying Pirelli tyres and this allowed us to push our qualifying simulation a little harder than normal. Both cars completed the session with some high fuel running as we took the opportunity to finalise preparations for Sunday’s race."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"Today was a slightly unusual situation, with the teams practising on a circuit that they had only raced on a few days previously. But it's interesting that the sessions had quite a different complexion to what we saw this time last week. There was an added urgency to FP2, as it's been suggested that these times might count towards the final grid positions if it's not possible to run qualifying as scheduled tomorrow, due to the expected heavy rain. This also made it particularly important for the teams to carry out their race preparations, with conditions on Sunday predicted to be dry, and to set an FP2 banker time in case it was needed in lieu of qualifying. From a tyre perspective, there were no real surprises: everything performed as anticipated and with wet weather likely tomorrow, the teams are expected to have a full allocation of slick tyres for the race, which opens up more possibilities for different strategies"