What the teams said - practice in Austria
A round-up of all the action from Friday's practice sessions at the Formula 1 Eyetime Grosser Preis Von Osterreich 2018 at the Red Bull Ring.
A smooth day for the team in silver. Hamilton topped both sessions, interestingly recording the fastest time in FP2 on the soft compound tyres, while Bottas wasn't far behind in either session either. With a full programme completed, Mercedes will be pleased with their day's work - although they will be well aware that Ferrari often sandbag on a Friday, and might well up the ante tomorrow...
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:04.839, P1; FP2: 1:04.579, P1
"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. It's really great to see the updates; the guys at the factory have been working so hard to bring quality components. The car feels better in certain areas around the track which is already a step forward from last week. The car felt immediately better coming out of the garage in FP1 and also at the start at FP2. It got a little worse during the afternoon session and we will try to figure out why in the debrief. But the car does feel good overall, so I'm sure we can rectify it. I'm going to keep pushing, trying to maximise a bit more out of it."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:04.966, P2; FP2: 1:04.755, P2
"It's been a good start to the weekend; we tried our new updates today and the initial feeling is that they work well. The team has done a really good job delivering the updates; every single person in the team has worked really hard on them. It worked exactly as expected which is down to all the hard work behind the scenes. Especially the rear end of the car was really stable today. Last year I had severe blistering on the rear left tyre which could potentially be an issue again as it is going to be warmer again this Sunday. So it's good that the rear felt stable today; however, we do still have a bit of balance work to do to get the most out of the car. Qualifying is really exciting around this track. There are not a lot of corners, so you need to nail every single one of them in order to make it to the front row."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We have come here with a fairly comprehensive aero kit and happily that all seems to be working as expected. Both drivers were quite happy with the car from the early runs of FP1 and we haven't had to make big changes to get it in the window. FP2 was more tricky, the balance wasn't quite as good and it didn't feel like we got the most out of the UltraSoft tyre on a single lap, Lewis even set his fastest lap on the Soft. Valtteri was happy with his car on the long run and his pace is encouraging. Lewis wasn't comfortable on the UltraSoft on the long run, but the Soft tyre looked strong. We normally see Ferrari take a big step forward from Friday to Saturday so we are not paying a lot of attention to the lap times from today, rather we will try and work on the issues that both drivers have highlighted and see if we can find a bit of pace for tomorrow. It's always a close grid at this track so getting every little detail right will be important."
A mixed day for Red Bull. Verstappen looked quick in first practice, but struggled with the set-up of his RB14 in FP2, complaining of front locking and running the gauntlet over the yellow kerbs. After spending much of FP2 in the garage, Ricciardo was out of sync on his qualifying simulation run but nonetheless looked solid.
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:05.483, P5; FP2: 1:05.031, P4
“It was pretty fun out there. It’s a quick lap round here but enjoyable for the minute and few seconds it lasts. The short lap also makes the times very close. I think this morning we may have been a little stronger than this afternoon and we still have a bit of time to find. We changed a few things between sessions but I think we can find a happy medium between the two set-ups. This morning I felt better on the soft tyre than the ultra and this afternoon I did a better time on the supersoft than the ultrasoft. I understand Lewis was quickest on the soft. It’s surprising but the tyres are all very close, so it’s going to be really interesting to see which strategy people go with tomorrow in Qualifying. I keep being asked about the kerbs; I actually damaged a bit of the front wing this morning on a kerb, but I think they are a good thing. It’s our job to stay off them and at least it’s a track limit. Some of these modern circuits that don’t have walls don’t really have a limit, I don’t think this is a bad alternative and at least it has an impact. It’s going to be really interesting to see which strategy people go with tomorrow in Qualifying.”
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:05.072, P3; FP2: 1:05.125, P5
“Today was a bit average. I sustained a bit of damage to the floor in FP2, running most of the session with that wasn’t ideal. I think it was sustained from vibration from the inside kerbs, not the big sausage ones. This compromised the feel of the car so resulted in a bit of a flat day. We need to work on the set-up as I feel we lacked a bit of speed through the corners, we know we are down on the straights so we need to make up for it where we can. This may have been a result of the balance not feeling quite right, we will look into the data this evening because at the moment I am not overly happy. The addition of a third DRS zone should help us come race day so if I can get the car where I want it then we should have fun. If the feeling is there with the car I think the tyres will work and everything should come easier. The kerbs are quite aggressive but they have been like that for the last few years so it’s not a surprise, they are the same for everyone so you need to avoid them. Of course they can damage the front wing but if a wall was there you would be in it, so you need to stay off them.”
Neither Vettel nor Raikkonen had a trouble free day, with both running wide and risking damage over the high kerbs. Nonetheless, no harm was done and both drivers were competitive if unspectacular. Much will depend on the extent to which the Scuderia had their engine modes turned down and whether their drivers can record a fully clean lap when it matters come qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:05.180, P4; FP2: 1:04.815, P3
“We can always improve, but today I’m happy. The car was pretty good, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. On this track it is true that the kerbs can be “aggressive” somehow, but today we didn’t have any issues and hopefully we won’t have problems tomorrow and in the race. We did a lot of laps, which is good, and usually on Saturday we can make a good step forward, so we should be well prepared for tomorrow and for Sunday."
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:05.776, P6; FP2: 1:05.265, P6
“It was a normal Friday session. Obviously, we have some work to do to find the right set-up for tomorrow, like at any other race. It’s hard to judge our performance compared to other teams, because we don’t know what the others were doing, but in general it was not too bad. Tomorrow we’ll see where we are."
Force India seemed to lack pace around the circuit, with Perez in particular struggling. The Mexican was also almost collected by Verstappen as they battled for space. With the midfield battle extremely close, it looks to be a tough ask for the cars in pink to both make Q3 come qualifying.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:06.455, P14; FP2: 1:06.354, P18
“I don’t think we really showed our true speed today, especially in second practice when our run was affected by the red flag. The sessions went to plan, but I’m not yet comfortable with the car balance. That’s where we need to work tonight to see if we can find something in the data to improve things before qualifying. If we can find a couple of tenths it will make a massive difference on this short track. Of course, we think it’s going to be much hotter tomorrow and the higher temperatures will impact on car balance again. We will have a lot of work to do in final practice to get on top of things.”
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:06.055, P8; FP2: 1:06.133, P13
“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. The morning pace was solid with P8, but second practice was a bit more challenging. We haven’t found the best balance for the car yet so we need to improve for tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer
“It was a busy Friday dominated by cool temperatures and overcast skies, which is not what we expect for the rest of the weekend. Despite a red flag in the afternoon, we had plenty of track time that allowed us to collect information on all the available tyre compounds and to run on both high and low fuel. The tyres are behaving as we were expecting, but we will need to adapt what we learnt to the temperatures we are anticipating for the rest of the weekend. Finding a good balance will be a challenge because this is not an easy track for optimising car set-up. We have a lot of work ahead of us tonight as the focus shifts to the final changes for FP3 and qualifying. As always, the margins here are very tight [because it’s such a short lap] and we will need to maximise all our potential to be at the front of the midfield pack.”
Sainz took a trip through the gravel trap at Turn 6 in FP2, using the escape road to rejoin the track, whilst Hulkenberg struggled to find an optimum set up for his R.S.18, complaining about the torque and braking difficulties. Renault bounced back from a difficult Friday last time out and will be confident of doing the same again in Austria.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:06.479, P15; FP2: 1:06.273, P15
“It’s been a fairly typical Friday. The balance isn’t quite there with the car so we’ve been tackling that as a priority. We didn’t make as much progress as we’d like between FP1 and FP2 and understeer has been our enemy here so far. Fortunately, it’s an enemy we know well so we have some good solutions to apply before we head out for qualifying tomorrow.”
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:06.427, P13; FP2: 1:05.999, P11
“We’ve been working hard today on getting the right set-up with the car and you could see we’re not quite there yet. Nevertheless, we have a decent number of laps on the board and we know what we need to improve to get a faster and more balanced car. I think we have the potential so I look forward to tomorrow.”
Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer
“Today we didn’t really find a good balance on the car. Neither driver was particularly happy as we had a lot more understeer than we would like which is hurting the front end, which consequently isn’t good for the tyres. We can make a big improvement on that for the rest of the weekend, especially if the track temperatures come up a little. The car ran reliably and the new MGU-K system works well. We have the information we need, now it’s about striking a better balance.”
Vandoorne damaged his front wing on the kerbs in FP1, having to pit for a new nose and later suffered from over-heating. Alonso had an uncustomary off day, laying down several scruffy laps and also having to pit after running over the high kerbs. He also lost time when McLaren made set-up changes mid-session.
Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:06.612, P17; FP2: 1:06.429, P19
“This was a pretty intense day as we had a lot of items to test on the car, especially aero parts. We completed the programme, now we just need to analyse the data and make sure we put the best parts on the car tomorrow to find a little more performance.
“Having an additional DRS zone is a good step: it will be difficult to get close to the car in front, especially in the middle sector, so three DRS zones will help to keep the group together. Hopefully, it should provide more overtaking in the race.
“We expected rain today, but none came; it’s now on the forecast for tomorrow, so we need to be ready to maximise every opportunity that comes our way if the weather proves to be unpredictable.”
Stoffel Vandoorne - FP1: 1:06.698, P18; FP2: 1:05.930, P10
“It was a pretty busy day today. The morning was spent evaluating a number of new parts and ideas, which meant that the real focus was on getting some consistent laps and some good, clean data.
“In the afternoon, I was able to get into more of a rhythm with the car, and, while we didn’t really manage to get the balance right, the times weren’t too bad. We still need to work hard, as we’ve seen before that we can look reasonably competitive on a Friday only to drop down the order on Saturdays.
“The most important thing is that we got some good learning done during the sessions, but it’s still too early to say where we are in the competitive order…”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“This was one of the most intensive and exacting days of free practice we’ve undertaken all year. We brought a raft of test components to the circuit this morning in order to evaluate a number of potential future directions for our aerodynamics team to study. That’s why Fernando’s car was fitted with aero rakes this morning, and why he undertook a number of shorter runs at the start of FP1.
“The afternoon was spent back-to-backing further new parts on both cars as we seek to refine the MCL33 for the races ahead. While these components aren’t raceable, they provide an extremely useful dataset for our engineers to study back at the MTC.
“Stoffel made good progress this afternoon, but Fernando struggled to string a quick-lap together. His task was made more difficult by a couple of component breakages, caused by his running over the yellow ‘sausage kerbs’ that line some of the corner-exits here.
“We learned today that it’s best to avoid those if you want to stay out of trouble…”
Grosjean looked to have put last weekend's disappointing race behind him, having a trouble free day to finish 'best of the rest' in both sessions. Magnussen's Friday was more eventful - he missed the end of FP1 after sustaining floor damage and a slow puncture, before being forced to stop in the pit lane in FP2 after a wheel was incorrectly fitted.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:06.028, P7; FP2: 1:05.429, P7
“It’s been a pretty good day. It’s a pretty cool track. I always love coming here. I love the layout in the middle of the mountains, and it’s a great atmosphere. The rain held off, which is good. We prefer dry days where we can get good mileage, and it’s good for the fans, and ourselves, for everyone. The car has performed very well, so we’re happy with where we are. The balance has been pretty good. We’ve got some more work to do but, generally, it’s good and I’m happy with it, but we can make some changes to it to make it even faster. I’m very much looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:06.404, P12; FP2: 1:05.559, P8
“It looks like we’re going well. It’s been a good day in terms of testing and getting things done that we had planned to do. The car has behaved as well as we expected. So far, it’s alright – we just need to get it done tomorrow, as well. The track is the same as last year. The car is a little bit different, obviously, but it’s been good at many races and it seems like it’s good here, as well. We need to get it all together tomorrow and then have a good qualifying session to get a good position for the race and, hopefully, score points on Sunday.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a good FP1 and FP2 – I think our best one this season. Both drivers did their whole program. There was only a small problem in FP1. We had one tyre going down on Kevin’s car because a piece of the floor got into it. Otherwise, I’m very happy and I cannot wait for tomorrow.”
Leclerc and Ericsson both ran wide at the tricky Turn 4, the Swede being forced to use the escape road. But when they stayed on track, they looked competitive and could certainly be knocking on the door of Q2 if not Q3 once again...
Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:06.400, P11; FP2: 1:06.199, P14
“We completed a good number of laps and ran on all of the three tyre compounds for the weekend. We built on what we learned in France last weekend, with a set-up that suits my driving style well. We were in the midfield today, which is positive. Tonight, we will work on optimising everything, so that we can have a strong performance tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:06.215, P9; FP2: 1:06.096, P12
“In general, it was a positive day for us. Our pace is quite good and we completed the programme we had planned. It was productive for us to test the different tyres we have for the weekend. I really enjoy driving on this track, and it is a good experience to complete my first laps in a Formula 1 car here. We are looking at our data and making sure we can have a strong performance during tomorrow’s sessions. Let’s see what will be possible.”
Gasly broke his front-left suspension running over the yellow kerbs, bringing out the red flags in FP2. Some quick work by the team meant he did make it back out on track. But the workhorse was Hartley who racked up the laps in the meantime to feed back crucial data for the team.
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:06.394, P10; FP2: 1:05.758, P9
“It was a good first day in Spielberg. I was in the top 10 for both practice sessions and I’m feeling pretty good with the car, hopefully we can keep the momentum for tomorrow! We need to be careful because we were quite fast in Paul Ricard on Friday as well, and then things changed. So I need to make sure we keep improving this time, also because this is a short track and the gap to the others is really tight. I had a bit of a moment in FP2 where the car got damaged, but the guys did a fantastic job to repair it and get me back out before the session ended. It’s a positive beginning and I’ll work hard with the team tonight to find some more performance for tomorrow.”
Brendon Hartley - FP1: 1:06.871, P19; FP2: 1:06.332, P17
“There were no issues on my side during the first day in Austria. We lacked a bit of pace in today’s practice sessions, which we will be working on tonight. I haven’t been particularly happy with the balance so there’s quite a bit of work to do to get the car where I want it to be. I’m confident we’ll find a solution and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“The Austrian weekend is a great event on the F1 calendar and the home of Red Bull. There had been a lot of discussions over the previous days with respect to the weather, as we had originally thought FP2 would be a washout and a chance of rain in both sessions, but eventually we had a dry FP1 and FP2. Being such a short lap, the sessions feel very busy with little room to breathe between laps and runs – it’s also quite a technical track so it’s beneficial to give the drivers as many laps as possible.
"We came to this event with a new aero package, which we fitted to Brendon’s car for today. FP1 was spent testing various options of aero configuration with him, to confirm both the wind tunnel and CFD results. So far, from the data analysis, the package appears to be behaving as expected and we are seeing the gains, so the plan will be to fit this to both cars from FP3 onwards. Pierre spent today’s first session carrying out mechanical setup work and starting to understand the tyre behaviour, so we had a good direction for FP2. This track is tough on cars, particularly given the number of exit kerbs, the yellow sausage kerbs are quite harsh as well, so with both drivers pushing hard and using every last part of the track we sustained some damage to bodywork components. More significant was the trackrod failure in FP2 at the end of Pierre’s long run. He was closing the lap and coming up on the two Force Indias - who were just starting their laps - when he had a big front wash out from their dirty air and hit the yellow kerbs. This overloaded the trackrod and caused the failure.
"The mechanics did a great job to get the car repaired and back out on track for the long run at the end of the session, so Pierre wasn’t compromised too much in terms of track running. Given that Pierre didn’t complete a lap on the Ultrasofts, his pace is looking competitive so we are positive looking ahead for tomorrow. We have some work to do to give Brendon the car balance he needs, and that will be the focus tonight in preparation for tomorrow.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“This track has a mix of high speed sections and slow corners and today we focused on setting up the PU to suit these features, while gathering as much data as possible. We lost a bit of track time with Gasly’s car in the afternoon, but apart from that, it was a straightforward day, as the rain we had expected in FP2 did not materialise. On Pierre’s car we ran a “Friday” PU, so we will be changing it overnight for one he used last Sunday in the French GP.”
Kubica took part in FP1 in place of Sirotkin, feeding back crucial data for the team. In FP2, the Russian was back out and looked to have a solid day, while Stroll struggled with car set-up and ran wide on more than one occasion.
Sergey Sirotkin - FP2: 1:06.326, P16
"It was a good session, we had a busy programme with a lot of things to try. I think we managed quite well. We completed all our planned runs, we tried all the things and we still had a reasonable long run pace which is a positive end to the session. I’m not saying that tomorrows qualifying will match today but we have covered many things and we are happy with the work and the results we are getting. It’s nice to be back in the car after missing FP1."
Robert Kubica - FP1: 1.07.424, P20
"It was good to be back in the car after nearly two months, and the feeling was good as I have not driven here for nearly 15 years. The track is short and looks easy however, it is quite a tricky track, but I found a reasonable pace straight away. We focused mainly on trying some extreme solutions just to gather more data and put the car in an extreme window to really highlight the areas where we might be struggling. It was quite strange to drive but I think it was worthwhile and overall a good session."
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:06.567, P16; FP2: 1:06.626, P20
"It was another practice day just figuring everything out and getting ourselves in the best shape for going into tomorrow. I think it was a good day where we learnt quite a bit going into qualifying. The kerbs have always been something here that us drivers have to watch out for as there are some big yellow ones on all the exits, so we have to know our limits. 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."
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer
"It’s been a productive day. The weather looked a bit threatening throughout but we have managed to avoid any of the rain that was around in the hills and complete our full programme. It was good to have Robert back in the car as it was the first time since the Barcelona test. As always, his feedback is invaluable especially after a few weeks out of the car. Moving onto this afternoon, Sergey was back in his race car and did a good job getting back up to speed having missed time this morning. Lance has continued to do a strong job in both sessions working through the programme. We had a number of aerodynamic tests running on both cars, based on some results that we learnt last week in France. We trialled new parts on the car that the guys in the factory managed to turn around very quickly in the last few days which is very impressive considering we are in the middle of a triple header. As usual, we have lots to go through tonight and hopefully we can move the car forwards for tomorrow."
Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing
“The performance gaps between the three compounds here are quite small, as is to be expected on such a short track, where the cars are very close to one another. This means of course that the tiniest detail counts, and the teams have been pushing hard to get the set-up exactly right. The cool conditions and the overnight rain from yesterday have also contributed to quite a high degree of track evolution, with a few drivers going off the line.
"As is often the case here, some drivers have fallen foul of the kerbs as well. Adapting the cars to the track temperature has been a key part of the work today, in conjunction with the usual assessment of tyres on both high and low fuel loads in these conditions. With everything so finely-balanced, strategy could make an important difference, so the teams will be studying tonight’s data particularly carefully.”