What the teams said - Friday in Austria

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Nikita Mazepin of Russia driving the (9) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari

Red Bull

It was more of the same from Verstappen in FP1, as he once again topped the timing sheets with what appeared to be minimal effort. Come FP2 and he had to settle for the somewhat surprise position of P3, after running wide on his flying lap and losing time sliding across the red and white kerbs. As for Perez, he was off the pace in both sessions which would be a concern if he hadn’t done exactly the same thing last Friday, before finding a big chunk of pace come qualifying.

READ MORE: Verstappen says Mercedes have ‘definitely improved’ as he pinpoints need to improve soft-tyre pace ahead of qualifying

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:05.143, P1; FP2: 1:04.740, P3

“From our side we didn’t have a perfect run in FP2 but nevertheless I felt good in the car and there are no real problems. Mercedes looked quite quick on the soft so we just have to make sure we have a little more pace on that compound because we looked stronger on the medium and in the long runs, which at the end of the day is the most important for the race. We also tested the new Pirelli prototype tyre which seemed to be fine. It did get quite greasy out there but luckily it was good enough to keep on driving so we had a good read on the long run pace. I think it will be tight again this weekend as it looks like Mercedes improved a bit but we will see tomorrow in qualifying and the most important thing is to make sure we look after the softer compounds in the race.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:05.726, P8; FP2: 1:05.516, P11

“The long runs were definitely more promising today but there’s still a lot of work to do. Both sessions were quite tough and I’m not feeling fully comfortable with the car on the softer compound yet. We need to analyse the data tonight to try and get the pace back to where we would expect it to be, ready for qualifying tomorrow. We seemed to be quite far away from the balance with the low fuel but we corrected that quite quickly, we were also seeing less degradation on these tyres too which is good. It’s good to see Pirelli bringing a new tyre to test this weekend before we use them at Silverstone. Overall, I learnt a lot from today and it’s great to see all of the fans here at the Red Bull Ring and hopefully we can have a good qualifying tomorrow and a solid race on Sunday.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: The Red Bull Racing team work in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Mercedes were off the pace of their Dutch rival in the first session, with both drivers complaining about their Achilles’ Heel – tyre warm up. But despite the conditions deteriorating in the second session, Hamilton and Bottas managed to grab the top two spots on the timing sheets as they got on top of their issues, both looking strong on the soft compound tyres although they weren’t a match for Verstappen on the mediums. Can they stay in front when Red Bull inevitably turn the wick up for qualifying?

READ MORE: Wolff ‘carefully optimistic’ about Mercedes chances in Austria, as Bottas says car feels better than last week

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:05.709, P7; FP2: 1:04.523, P1

"Red Bull have definitely got something extra in their bag but we've made some small steps forward and over a single lap, the car felt pretty good. FP1 was a bit of a struggle, we were trying different set up variations based on our work in the sim this week and the car wasn't happy. In FP2, we reverted to a similar set up as last week, with a few other adjustments, and the car felt much better. I probably won't change much now because most often if it ain't broke, don't fix it! So just tiny tweaks for me this evening. I still expect Red Bull to be ahead of us, but we'll be trying to make the gap as small as possible tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:05.445, P4; FP2: 1:04.712, P2

"Today was good fun - with the second week, every single margin in terms of cornering performance and driving performance becomes smaller so it's about fine-tuning rather than finding big chunks of time. I think we started OK in terms of how the car feels, much better than last week, so hopefully we can build from that. It's practice so you never what programs other teams are running - no doubt the Red Bulls are still strong and they are gaining on the straight which has been a bit of a weakness for us but we'll find out tomorrow when everybody turns their engine up.

"The softer tyre compounds make a big difference, it feels like the tyres are holding on better in the long-runs and I think the temperatures will be quite variable over the weekend so let's see what effect that has on the tyres. Max was a bit out of reach last weekend but it's a new week, we've learned a lot, I like to think we're closer but no doubt they'll still be very quick."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It's been an interesting day; we'd been busy this week trying to find improvements on both the chassis and the power unit and from today's running it does look like we've made some steps in the right direction. The conditions are quite different to last week, cooler air and a much cooler track which is certainly helping deal with the softer compounds. The single lap was encouraging in that we were extracting good grip from the tyres, not always something we have managed on the softest Pirelli rubber, but we're under no illusion that Red Bull will have plenty in hand for tomorrow."

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Friday - Steve Etherington


After using last Friday to experiment with set-up, having two races at the same track seems to be paying dividends for the Scuderia as they put those findings to good use to secure decent slots in FP1. But in the afternoon session, both drivers seemed to struggle more with the lack of grip, Leclerc having a big moment on the kerbs and doing well to keep his car pointed in roughly the right direction. They will be hoping for a dry track tomorrow and a repeat of their FP1 performance.

READ MORE: Ferrari race pace as good as last weekend insists Leclerc, despite P16 in FP2

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:05.409, P2; FP2: 1:05.708, P16

"It was a busy day, because of the packed programme we ran. We still have lots of things to work on, and I don’t think our times are representative.

"The main improvement we need to find is on the rears and we also have to tune the car better for tomorrow. We used the C5 compound for the first time, and have to understand how to extract the maximum from it.

"Looking at our race trim, I’d say it looks solid. In terms of qualifying pace, we still haven’t found the small step we need in order to be further ahead. We will keep working on it and hopefully secure strong starting positions tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:05.431, P3; FP2: 1:05.620, P13

"An interesting day at the office. Today we went on track with a very similar car to last week’s, but it felt completely different due to the wind and the change in track conditions.

"We have been trying different things, and we were not focusing on the timesheet. Our main goal was refining our run plan, playing with the set up and trying to understand both the new Soft compound and the new tyres Pirelli will introduce at Silverstone."

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Stroll had a tricky first session, spinning twice, and was fortunate to stay out of the barriers. He did wreck a set of tyres though, which didn’t help his session. But he atoned beautifully in the afternoon, nailing his second flying lap to grab a ‘best of the rest’ P4 on the timing sheets. With Vettel just behind, could Aston Martin dream of getting both cars into Q3 for the first time this season?

READ MORE: ‘We were maybe more aggressive than others’ – Aston Martin duo play down impressive Friday pace in Austria

Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:06.444, P15; FP2: 1:05.268, P5

“Firstly, it was very nice to see fans at the track again and that they are keeping safe. It was interesting conditions out there today because we have a softer range of tyres this weekend and it was much cooler conditions. There was also some drizzle at the end, although it did not affect us very much. We have done our homework after last weekend’s race and we tried a few different things today, too. It was nice to be in the top five in the afternoon, but the focus is on making sure we show some good pace in qualifying and reach Q3 to give ourselves the best possible chance of points.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:06.203, P13; FP2: 1:05.139, P4

“It has been a good day for us. The morning was a little more eventful for me, but I think we managed to put together plenty of clean laps and we have learned a lot. One of the key factors this weekend will be the softer range of tyres that Pirelli has chosen. I think it is a good call because it could mix things up on Sunday and create some strategy variance. In a tight midfield battle, that could be exciting. On our side, the car feels good on the softer tyres. All in all, we can be happy with our work today. Now it is about extracting the maximum for qualifying tomorrow.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)


AlphTauri picked up where they left off last weekend, looking quick from the off despite Tsunoda making one trip through the gravel. They backed that up in the afternoon session, with the Japanese rookie getting the beating of his team mate once again. Gasly did lose a quick lap time to track limits but even so, had no real answer to the pace of Tsunoda today.

READ MORE: Tsunoda eyeing third Q3 appearance after stellar Friday showing for AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:05.726, P9; FP2: 1:05.379, P7

“I was playing catch-up a little bit today, having missed FP2 last time out and obviously the race, so we spent time working on our long-runs and trying to understand the tyres. I think there were a lot of positives today and the pace is still there. However, we were slightly struggling in these different conditions, so we have a few things to look at tonight with the engineers and then we can make some changes for tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:05.474, P5; FP2: 1:05.356, P6

“We’ve had a decent day and are happy that we’ve maintained the pace from last week. We have worked hard on our longer running, as that was something we found we struggled with during the race, and I think this has been really positive. They weren’t the easiest conditions out there, the circuit is much colder this week and then we had some rain towards the end of FP2. My main objective today was to gather as much data as possible ahead of qualifying and the race, by slowly building up my lap times and I’ve achieved that without making any mistakes, so I’m pleased with that.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“We were able to show that the car was competitive at this track during last weekend’s race and the post-race analysis highlighted some areas where we felt we could improve the car and balance even further, so this formed part of the learning process during the morning session. In addition, we have available a compound of tyre that is one step softer this weekend, so we needed to understand how to maximise its performance over the short-run, then the life and degradation over a long-run.

"On top of that, each driver had an additional two sets of prototypes, which we needed to use to gather data for Pirelli and ourselves, in preparation for their introduction in Silverstone. FP1 was a very busy session, but we were able to show a good performance and the new tyre appeared to work well. Pierre didn’t have a clean run on his softs, so there was room to improve for FP2. The temperatures were quite different to last week and this had an impact on the tyres, so moving into FP2 we did some fine-tuning and again the drivers did a good job over the short-runs. The longer stints were more of a challenge, especially given the very light rain for the last 15 minutes of the session. We appeared to have more degradation than our competitors, so this will be the area we need to spend the most time analysing tonight.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Sparks fly behind Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)


Zhou made his Formula 1 debut in FP1 and performed very well, coming home only a few tenths down on his much more experienced team mate and more importantly, keeping the car in one piece. Alonso took the wheel in FP2, and was immediately frustrated by traffic in the form of Raikkonen disrupting his runs. He did come home in the top 10 though in a decent showing, while Ocon once again is hunting for a few tenths here and there as he looks to try and get on the pace of his team mate.

READ MORE: 'I definitely proved myself' – Chinese star Zhou delighted with pace on F1 practice debut

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:05.980, P11; FP2: 1:05.527, P12

“It’s been a very busy day with lots of different tests completed. We had the prototype tyre to test out and that was interesting. We also ran the C5s, softs, which is different to what we had last weekend with the C4. We did some valuable runs on those on both low and high fuel. The conditions were also a lot different to last weekend, much cooler, so the lap times were a little quicker. The long runs were in line with what we expected too, and there’s more work required tonight to analyse that. All in all, a busy, but productive day.”

Fernando Alonso - FP2: 1:05.393, P8

“It was good to be back in the car this afternoon especially with the C5 tyre compound, that we didn’t have last weekend. It was good to try some laps on them on both short runs and long runs. I think that we still need to do some work to fine tune the set up of the car; with this tyre compound, maybe, we have a different balance. It was quite a smooth FP2 for us and there’s more to come tomorrow hopefully.”

Guanyu Zhou - FP1: 1:06.414, P14

“It felt special to drive FP1 today. I’m really happy with all my runs and I was able to get familiar with the tyres early on. I didn’t expect to be up to speed so quickly and the pace was definitely there on the mediums. I felt good this morning, and I was getting more confident on each lap. I just wanted to build it up steadily and grow into the session. I’d like to thank the team for the opportunity, it was certainly very special. Hopefully I made everyone proud and there will be more moments like this later in my career.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“We’ve had a productive day and it’s been a different Friday to usual. Firstly, we had Zhou in the car this morning. He did a very good job, didn’t make any mistakes and put in some competitive lap times. He can be pleased with his performance and work, and we’re very happy for him. We also tested the prototype tyre in both sessions in preparation for the next race, which was good. An important part of today was learning as much as possible on the C5 compound. The tyres are a step softer this weekend and we have the information now to analyse. We’ll work through everything tonight to see what choices we can make for the rest of the weekend.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Alpine A521 Renault during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


McLaren don’t always show their full hand on Friday and once again that looked to be the case, with both drivers down the order in the two sessions. Norris was at least on the fringes of the top 10, although he did spin towards the end of FP2 and wind up on the grass to blot his copybook. As for Ricciardo, was he focused on set up work, or off the pace? Either way, he’ll hope to make headway in FP3 to gain some confidence ahead of qualifying.

READ MORE: Norris reveals key difference between Sainz and Ricciardo as team mates

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:06.181, P12; FP2: 1:05.698, P15

“It’s been an interesting day – from the classification it doesn’t look like a good day, but we actually made some progress in a few areas. We’ll just try to make another step tomorrow and maybe that puts us in the fight. If I didn’t know the classification, I’d be more optimistic with the day, but I think just some fine-tuning is needed. We’ll keep chipping away to find a few more tenths overnight and I think that’ll put us where we need to be. We’ve got some work to do, but we’re looking alright.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:05.880, P10; FP2: 1:05.466, P9

"A positive day because we tested a lot of different things, but we just haven’t put everything together really. Of the things we tested, some were good, some not as good, and we now have a better understanding of the car than we did last weekend. Hopefully we can choose all the best things from the work we did today and progress tomorrow to make sure we’re that little bit quicker than we were last week. Today was a productive day and let's see what we can do tomorrow."

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“A busy day today, with a programme containing lots of running and lots of tests. The tyre allocation this weekend is softer than it was for the Styrian Grand Prix, and it was important to understand the degradation and behaviour of the softest tyre, which we haven’t run at this circuit before. There was also a change in conditions, with a much cooler track today, when compared to last weekend.

“We also had Pirelli’s new prototype tyres to test today, plus, as usual, we had a few new parts and wanted to do all the normal set up work to improve the pace of the car. So, a very busy day. We’ve gathered lots of information and tonight we’ll look at what we’ve accumulated, with a view to capitalising on it in our qualifying performance tomorrow and our preparation for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Ilott had Giovinazzi’s cockpit in FP1 and did a decent job once again for the team, before the Italian took over in the afternoon. With Raikkonen coming home in the top 10 in FP1 and Giovinazzi doing likewise in FP2, could Alfa spring a surprise tomorrow? They certainly seem to have made a step forward since last weekend, and haven’t featured in Q3 in qualifying since Monaco.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:05.586, P6; FP2: 1:05.624, P14

“It was a fairly regular Friday. Of course, everyone knows the track really well after last week so we won’t find out until tomorrow where everyone really is. I am quite confident, but we know the margins are so small that anything can happen. In the end, we will need to find something tonight because we know everyone else will and we have to make a bigger step ahead than the others. We just focus on ourselves and on doing our best and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Callum Ilott - FP1: 1:06.564, P16

“I really enjoyed the session today: I feel I made a good progression and we were able to try and learn a good amount of things. Jumping in the car when everyone else had a full week of running here is never easy, but I still feel it was a very positive session. We were able to address directly some of the key aspects the team wanted to check from last weekend and in the end we were able to do a run on soft tyres, which was fun. I felt more familiar with the car and with how everything works: I’m getting used to it and this allows me to work better, so I am satisfied with my day.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP2: 1:05.511, P10

“It was quite a smooth FP2 for me, we finished the full programme we set out to do including some laps on the prototype tyres and some high-fuel runs. In general, it was a positive session. The midfield seems very close, as always, so we will need to keep working hard to find that little extra performance to be at the edge, especially on Saturday. We still have one session before qualifying to refine our package and then we’ll give our maximum in qualifying.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Callum Ilott of Great Britain driving the (98) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)


Nissany was on his best behaviour in FP1, coming in ahead of Latifi in a composed display. Roll on the afternoon and Russell took over, also beating the Canadian who had a slight off-day out there. So far there are no signs of the pace that Williams showed last weekend, the cooler conditions not seemingly suiting them, but tomorrow is a new day and Mr Saturday does tend to save his best for qualifying.

George Russell – FP2: 1:05.819, P17

"It can sometimes be tough missing a practice session, but there are only seven real corners here and we did plenty of running last week, so if you’re going to miss FP1 then this is the track to do it at. Our main focus from today was getting some mileage on the new tyres that are coming in Silverstone and, even with a bit of rain, I think we’re all feeling like we got a good read on those. In terms of qualifying and race preparations, the pace looked ok, but things often change slightly come Saturday afternoon. As always, the goal tomorrow is to qualify as high as possible. Q2 is the minimum we’re hoping for, but we’ll wait and see what the day brings."

Roy Nissany – FP1: 1:06.683, P18

"Today was great, it definitely felt like one of the most productive sessions I’ve done for the team and the pace felt strong. I love this track having driven here so often and in lots of different categories, but going through the fast section in the FW43B was the best feeling yet. We gathered a lot of data which we’ll spend the evening analysing and learning from, so I’m feeling really happy with today."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:06.978, P19; FP2: 1:06.014, P19

"It was a very busy Friday in Austria, trying to fit in the two extra sets of tyres in what is already packed hour sessions. However, it was very valuable to gather the information as these are the tyres that we will be using from Silverstone onwards. Overall, today was a tale of two sessions, with different feelings between FP1 and FP2. The first practice session felt much better compared to the second, so we have to understand why that is as we made minimal changes. That is what we are going to go through now, to ensure we end today on a positive note."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"With a second weekend at the same venue, we were able to do some tests that would normally struggle to justify a place on a busy Friday programme. We looked at a few different set-up avenues, which have produced some interesting results. We also took the time to complete some high-quality testing of the new rear tyres, which will be introduced at the next event in Silverstone.

"All three drivers had trouble-free sessions and were able to complete their programmes successfully. Roy provided some very useful feedback, and having had two FP1 sessions within a few weeks, was able to provide some clear guidance over how the car is feeling here at the Red Bull Ring.

"The tyre behaviour is similar to last week and the softer C5 compound, which we have this weekend as the Soft tyre, was working quite well straightaway. There is a bit more to come from fully optimising the outlap and driving style, but we are not too far away and will finalise our approach tomorrow morning."

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Williams Racing FW43B Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Mazepin struggled in FP1, spinning once and running wide on multiple occasions, including managing to hold a moment where his car beached itself on the high yellow kerbs, sending him sideways into the run-off area at speed. He ran wide again in the afternoon but generally had a quieter session. As for Schumacher, a second go at the same track seems to be helping the rookie and he managed a full programme trouble-free as he seeks a strong qualifying tomorrow.

READ MORE: Mazepin gets his own back on Haas boss Steiner for ‘Maze-spin’ present

Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:06.583, P17; FP2: 1:05.911, P18

“Today’s running was quite different - we saw lap times dropping quite quickly compared to last week. I think we’re a bit faster compared to last week and I think that’s just because you know where to put the car. In general, it was interesting, especially in the long runs as that’s probably the weather we’ll find in the race. We collected good data and now it’s about analysing and seeing what we can do better for the race on Sunday.”

Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:07.316, P20; FP2: 1:06.173, P20

“This car has a difficult aero package – one of the most difficult I’ve driven. Coming from junior formulas, more aero balance means more oversteer, but in F1 it definitely doesn’t mean that, with things like the different way the tires work during the lap and all sorts of things that affect the warm up. It’s quite extreme and not very straightforward I’d say. But we’re using these Friday practices to experiment with the set up, and then try and divert both cars into something that could potentially give us a good gain. Free practice time has been reduced from last year, we’re just trying things – so, tomorrow should be more equal and finalised let’s say."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“Well, we got in 129 laps today, so it was a good day with no issues. As always, we were just trying to get the best out of what we’ve got for this weekend. Obviously, we’ve got some data from last weekend, so we didn’t start off unprepared – we’ve just been trying different things and then we also tried the new prototype tyre for Pirelli. Overall, it hasn’t been a bad day.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 02: Mick Schumacher of Germany driving the (47) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 02, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"There were two main priorities for the teams today: assessing the soft compound in C5 version, which has never been to Austria before, and trying out the new prototype tyre, in medium C4 compound, in the most representative conditions for the teams. We are gathering all the information we need on this new rear tyre, which features a more robust construction, and we'll analyse the data with a view to using it from Silverstone onwards. The feedback we've had from the drivers so far is generally positive and indicates that it feels quite similar to the existing tyre that was exactly our target: keep the same level of performance with an increase of the robustness. As expected with the softer compounds, we had some graining on the soft tyre in particular, which suggests that we might see some quite different strategies compared to last weekend: the whole idea behind changing the nomination for the second race weekend here."

HIGHLIGHTS: See all the key moments from FP2 ahead of the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring



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