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What the teams said - Friday in Styria

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Becky Hart
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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Mick Schumacher of Germany driving the (47) Haas F1 Team VF-21

Red Bull

Verstappen had a pretty perfect Friday at his team’s home track. Top in both sessions, no real incidents and plenty of running mean the Dutchman is well placed heading into the weekend. The same can’t be said for Perez, who struggled for pace on the red-marked soft tyres and wound up much further down the order. He has been more of a slow starter this season for his new team so it will be interesting to see if he can pick up the pace tomorrow.

READ MORE: ‘Lewis was faster’ – Verstappen predicting tough battle despite topping both Friday sessions

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:05.910, P1; FP2: 1:05.412, P1

“Overall it’s been quite a good day for us and although there are a few things to look into, which is very normal for a Friday, I am quite happy with where the car is at the moment. In the second practice Lewis had a faster lap time that was deleted so it looks a bit different to what is shown at the moment on the timesheets but we expect to see both teams at the top. The weather forecast looks like it is changing all the time, so let’s see what it is actually like tomorrow, but I think it will be a very tight battle again.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:06.696, P13; FP2: 1:06.089, P9

“Track conditions were tricky at the start of FP2 but they improved throughout the session. From our side we need to do a bit of fine tuning as there’s definitely some more potential in the car and finding a few tenths here makes a huge difference. I’m still learning the best set up adjustments for the car and as usual, taking my time with the engineers to get that right. I think we do have good pace and the long runs seem to be promising. So, if we’re able to find a couple of tenths overnight then we should be in the fight tomorrow and hopefully we can put a good lap together in Q3.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing looks on from his car during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Mercedes

They didn’t top the timing sheets but Mercedes weren’t a million miles away on Friday, with Hamilton in particular reasonably happy with his running. As he sets about for a long night trying to work out how he can close the gap before qualifying, his team mate was left scratching his head a tad more. Bottas has a strong record at this track, but he ran a contrary strategy in FP2 which dropped him down the field and that was compounded by spinning in the pit lane when released on the harder C2 tyres. A messy day for the Finn, which he’ll want to bounce back quickly from tomorrow.

READ MORE: Bottas handed three-place grid drop and penalty points for ‘dangerous driving’ in pit lane spin

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:06.332, P3; FP2: 1:05.796, P4

"Overall, a work in progress - it's been a beautiful day, a few drops of rain at the start of the second session but the track is awesome. We're a little bit down, particularly over a single lap, but generally the car felt relatively solid. I'm happy with where we've got the car to, I've been working hard all week trying to figure out where I want the car and I hope the hard work starts paying off soon. Red Bull are throwing some good punches at the moment so we've just got to have our guard up and make sure we're ready for the return."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:06.386, P4; FP2: 1:06.251, P12

"FP1 felt overall a bit better but in FP2, we had just one run with lower fuel and that was a little messy so the lap time on the board was nothing amazing. But the focus for today was on the long runs, trying to find the long run performance - we prioritised that well today and hopefully that will pay off on Sunday. Lewis and I were running quite different set ups so we have lots to analyse tonight to find the best bits to take into qualifying and the race."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It's been a productive day for us and a lot drier than we'd expected from the forecast. The drivers were fairly happy with the car throughout the day; the first session was odd as we looked off the pace but the balance of the car wasn't far off where we expected it to be. There were a few tweaks to the setup going into the afternoon and encouragingly, our pace looked a bit better both on single lap and long run, although it could have been a mixture of conditions coming towards us and improving the car.

"It's a tricky circuit to set the car up for as the track warp in the slow speed corners makes it difficult to find a consistent balance and on such a short lap, any mistake can be very costly. However, we've got some good direction from today and can no doubt make further steps forward. The forecast remains unsettled so there's every chance we'll still get some wet running."

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

McLaren

It was a mixed day for McLaren, who were well off the pace in FP1. Roll on the afternoon session and both drivers looked much more competitive, with Ricciardo managing his first top three appearance of the year. Norris was a little further back, but is one driver who normally makes a big step forward for qualifying. On this pace, they could be right up there at the sharp end of the field tomorrow.

READ MORE: Ricciardo credits ‘three schnitzel’ diet for P2 in second practice at Styrian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:06.669, P12; FP2: 1:05.748, P2

“So, a good day. I’d say strange. Strange because we were expecting a lot of rain, especially this afternoon and it didn’t quite arrive. We weren’t expecting two dry sessions. Whether that’s going to stay for the weekend, we’ll see.

“I think it was a productive Friday for sure. In the morning we were a little off the pace. We made a few adjustments for the afternoon and I think that was better. Obviously, the time sheets certainly show it was better. We made a step in feeling and confidence in the car, but I do feel there’s another step we need to make to stay in a strong position for tomorrow. A bit of fine-tuning tonight but otherwise we should be pretty good. I’m happy with the day and we’ll go from there.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:06.861, P16; FP2: 1:05.994, P7

"A positive day. We started FP1 not looking too good, but we made some changes and definitely made the car better going into FP2. Hopefully we can make another step into FP3 and gain even more lap time, but it’s going to be extremely close. It's all about putting the lap together and doing that consistently. I think we can be confident we have a decent car, but it’s going to be tight no matter what."

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“It’s been a productive Friday. Despite there being rain around, it didn't affect the programme and we could go through our run plan. That revolved around set up work, some aerodynamic tests and, of course, understanding the tyres in preparation for the race – we saw in France what a difference tyre degradation can make. Overall, the car seemed reasonably competitive. We’ll keep an eye on the weather – which remains unsettled – but we’re looking forward to qualifying and the race.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alpine

Alpine had another good start to a weekend, having performed well in France last time out. Alonso took the intra-team honours in FP1 while Ocon returned the favour in FP2, all of which bodes well going into tomorrow. The Spaniard doesn’t have the best record at this track though, so will be hoping for some luck as the weekend hots up.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:06.551, P7; FP2: 1:05.790, P3

“It’s been a busy Friday for us with lots of things completed. Having both cars well into the top 10 is positive but it is only Friday and we need to stay focused and keep working on the areas that we can improve. Nevertheless, it’s been a productive day and we look forward to tomorrow. It’s nice to be third on the timesheets and hear ‘you’re P1’ on the radio for a short moment, but it’s only FP2 and tomorrow is when it counts.”

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:06.519, P6; FP2: 1:05.827, P5

“It was a smooth Friday for us today. We were all expecting a wet free practice session, but the weather stayed on the dry side, so we completed our normal programme. The car felt good straight away in FP1 and I think there is more pace to come as we didn’t quite put everything together. That gives me confidence heading into qualifying tomorrow so hopefully we should be in for a competitive weekend.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It has been a productive day. We were expecting rain in the afternoon so we had to adapt and be flexible with our programme, but we were able to get through everything we wanted, including long runs with different tyres to collect a lot of information to analyse overnight. Of course, there is room for improvement, but the race and qualifying pace is not so bad for both drivers, so we are hopeful for tomorrow and Sunday.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 Team and Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy and Alfa Romeo Racing talk in the Paddock before practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri looked absolutely rapid in FP1, with Gasly grabbing second and being ably backed up by his team mate. But then a PU issue was detected between sessions, meaning the Frenchman was unable to take part in FP2. It was left to Tsunoda to fly the flag for the team and be chief data gatherer, and while he managed a fair haul of laps, he wasn’t able to extract the same sort of pace from the AT02 that he had in the morning.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a big shame’ – Power unit issue keeps Gasly out of FP2 after he went second quickest in first practice

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:06.166, P2; FP2: No time set, P20

“This morning was great, the pace and performance of the car was strong and everything went well, so it was a really positive session for the start of the weekend. Unfortunately, the team spotted an issue on the PU and didn’t want to take any risks, so have spent the afternoon checking this. There were some things we wanted to try during FP2 so it’s a shame to have not been able to do that but at the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do about it and we just need to look forward to tomorrow now. Yuki didn’t feel as comfortable in the car this afternoon as he was in FP1, so we need to go away and analyse all the data we have ahead of tomorrow, then we can piece everything together for Qualifying.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:06.397, P5; FP2: 1:06.451, P15

“I’m fairly happy with today. We saw in FP1 that the short run pace of the car is definitely there, and I was able to put in some good lap times during the session. However, on the longer runs in FP2 I struggled quite a bit with the balance of the car, so I need to work on that tonight. I know there’s a chance of rain tomorrow, but I would prefer dry conditions if I’m honest. I don’t have a lot of experience in the wet in Formula 1 so that would make things trickier for me. If it’s dry, I just need to put everything together step-by-step in Qualifying and increase my confidence as I go through the session.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“Given the risk of rain in FP2 we brought forward our typical plan to FP1, so both drivers focused on short run performance across the mediums followed by the soft tyres. We then split the cars, with Pierre completing long stints on the soft tyre and Yuki doing the same with the mediums. As the focus was on tyre understanding there was little room for setup testing and optimisation, but we were able to hit the ground running with the car and the performance was looking promising.

"Additionally, the soft tyre over the long run behaved reasonably well, even with the high track temperatures. During the break, Honda spotted something strange in the data on the PU and did not want to take any risks, we chose to investigate the issue fully this afternoon and therefore Pierre didn’t run in FP2. It’s an unfortunate situation because FP2 ended up being almost completely dry, so Pierre did lose out, but at least the performance was looking strong in the morning and I am confident he will be able to repeat it in FP3.

"For Yuki, again we completed a typical FP2 plan, but unfortunately he was not able to show his full potential in his first push on the Softs, meaning the final classification today is not fully representative. Putting it all together we know there is more to come tomorrow.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Sparks fly behind Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ferrari

After their tyre graining issues last weekend, Friday served as an experimental day for the Scuderia as they looked for alternate set-ups that might mitigate those problems headed into the weekend. The result was both drivers finished well down the order, with Sainz spinning in both sessions for good measure. Their competitiveness remains an unknown as it stands.

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

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:06.629, P10; FP2: 1:06.270, P13

"We learned a lot today, 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 tonight and tomorrow. 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."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:06.630, P11; FP2: 1:06.147, P11

"It was an intense Friday. In the morning, we tried various set-ups to find the best direction to follow regarding the tyres. Our main aim in both of today’s sessions was to understand the behaviour of the various compounds.

"Tomorrow we will concentrate more on enhancing the car’s performance on flying laps with the aim of qualifying well, but it will not be easy. Our race pace was not bad, but we are cautious and we will continue to analyse all the information and data gathered today."

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 drives in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

A much better Friday for the team after looking slightly off the pace of the midfield when the weekend started in France last time out. Both drivers managed to keep their sessions clean, and their early foray onto the soft tyres in FP2 paid dividends when they briefly led the session. While both drivers did get bumped down the order, sixth and eighth is very respectable and could see them get two cars into Q3 for the first time this season.

Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:06.708, P14; FP2: 1:05.934, P6

“I think we have made a decent start to the weekend. Our pace over one lap is looking encouraging and I think we can squeeze out more from the longer runs. We have a good idea of where we can make those improvements, which is the important thing. Racing in the mountains means it can be really tricky to predict the weather, so it is going to be about making sure we are on the right tyres at the right time and reacting well to the conditions. We have not had much wet running this year, so it would be good to experience the car in the rain.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:06.584, P8; FP2: 1:06.079, P8

“The car felt good from the first lap and both sessions were positive for us. We know where we can make some improvements, such as the balance in the low-speed corners, so we will go away tonight and review the data to see where we can find some further improvements. There has been a lot of talk about rain, but it only slightly drizzled at times today, so it was not really a factor. I love driving in wet conditions and it always mixes up the field - so I will not complain if we get some rain tomorrow or Sunday.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Kubica had a run out in FP1, and bar an early spin on cold tyres, managed to feed back some valuable data to the team. Raikkonen took back his cockpit in the second session, but he wasn’t able to get on the pace of his team mate. Giovinazzi was on the fringes of the top 10 in both sessions and looks well placed for a decent run tomorrow as the team celebrate their 111th anniversary.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP2: 1:06.297, P14

“I was able to do a good job in the afternoon session and the car didn’t feel too bad: of course, you can always improve on it but that’s what we need to work for ahead of tomorrow. Traffic is an issue around this short track and it made it quite tricky today: in qualifying, it will be important to pick the right time. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow: in any case, especially on such a short lap, we’ll need to put all the corners together as every tiny mistake matters.”

Robert Kubica – FP1: 1:07.823, P19

“It’s always great to be back in an F1 car, although today hasn’t been the smoothest day. I’ve been racing in other categories since I last drove the C41 in Barcelona and it’s not easy to get a feeling when you only have a couple of laps to get up to speed. Still, I enjoyed the opportunity and hopefully brought the team some useful data. It’s hard to compare how much the car has moved forward since I last drove it, as we are always testing different things in varying conditions, but the general feeling is positive: the team has been doing well lately and you can feel the confidence building. We know we can be in the fight if we do a good job, so we have to make the most of our package and of any opportunities.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:06.614, P9; FP2: 1:06.145, P10

“It was a good Friday today, the car balance felt good from the first laps in FP1 so we have a good base to build on. We are happy with the day but we also know that tomorrow will be more difficult: we need to keep working tonight, find some speed in a few little details and hopefully have the same positive feeling when we head out in FP3. Putting a lap together here is a challenge, traffic and track limits will be key topics in qualifying: but if we get everything done, we can have a good Saturday too.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy driving the (99) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Williams

Latifi had a big moment in FP2, losing the rear after taking too much kerb and sliding backwards across the grass. That limited his session somewhat, but at least Russell managed a decent afternoon. He looks to be on the fringes of Q2 as it stands, but with a strong wet weather pedigree, will be hoping the heavens open tomorrow afternoon.

George Russell – FP1: 1:06.848, P15; FP2: 1:06.628, P16

"It was enjoyable out there; the car felt good and our high fuel runs are looking really strong, so there are plenty of positives. The conditions were difficult at the start of FP2 with some rain, so I didn’t push too hard as it wasn’t worth the risk, but I think we’ve definitely got some more lap time in the pocket. We’ve been very consistent with our qualifying efforts this season, so I’m hoping for Q2 tomorrow. However, we’re also focussing on finding a balance which translates that qualifying performance into race pace, as that’s where the points are scored."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:07.180, P17; FP2: 1:07.669, P19

"The track limits were a little tricky out there today, and in FP2 I overstepped a little bit and dipped the wheel on the edge of the gravel which caused the car to spin. The car set-up felt good though, which is definitely an improvement from France. In terms of tomorrow, it’s a little difficult to say what the expectations are, especially due to the changing conditions, but we’ll go away tonight, analyse the data and make sure we’re ready for qualifying."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"We have had a good day here at the Red Bull Ring. There was rain in the area this afternoon, but it was difficult to predict if it would hit the circuit. We made some adjustments to our programmes in both practice sessions to give us the best chance of collecting the key data ahead of the race. Although only a few drops fell early in FP2, this approach worked well, and we are happy with our day’s work. The car is working reasonably well here as we continue to understand the new parts that we have fitted over the last couple of events.

"Nicholas had a spin during FP2 but there was no significant damage to the car, and he was able to complete his session as planned. George did a long performance run on the Soft tyre early in FP2 during the light rain before moving to high fuel to finish the session.

"The rest of the weekend will probably be dominated by the weather, with more rain predicted for Saturday and Sunday. Our job now will be to make the most of the conditions no matter what finally comes our way during qualifying and the race."

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Nicholas Latifi of Canada driving the (6) Williams Racing FW43B Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Haas didn’t have a totally clean day out there, with Mazepin spinning after he put a back wheel in the gravel, and Schumacher being caught out by the strong gusts of wind and running wide at the tricky Turn 3. Nonetheless, they kept out of the barriers and the valuable lap time will be crucial heading into what should be a very tight qualifying session.

Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:07.473, P18; FP2: 1:06.886, P17

“Overall, we had steady improvement over the day. We got to do everything we wanted, and I feel like we’re in a pretty decent place. There were a few raindrops at the beginning of FP2 but they didn’t do any harm. There are always things you can improve, whether that’s with driving or the car. It’s not far away from what I want in the car, it’s just about finding a little percent here and there to try to get it to exactly where I want it to be. I wasn’t expecting a Q2 appearance at Paul Ricard but we were there, so hopefully we’ll be able to make a surprise appearance again here.”

Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:08.081, P20; FP2: 1:07.404, P18

“The first few laps in FP1 were a lot calmer in comparison to tracks I know less – such as Portugal, Baku and Monaco for example. Overall, it was quite a chilled working day. I was pretty surprised this morning when I woke up because I expected it to be pouring down with rain and it wasn’t. We got some dry running in, some understanding of the set up, but I’m not sure if we’re going to be using much of that knowledge tomorrow subject to the weather. I’m trying to be happy regardless of the factors I cannot control. I can learn a lot from the conditions that we had today, but it’s also a great learning opportunity for me and the team to get this car around in the wet conditions. Let’s see what the weather brings.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“Not a bad session for our cars today. We did a lot of running which is the most important thing for the guys to do at the moment. In FP2, we were a little bit concerned about rain, so we went out straight at the start to do as much as possible and then came back in, before coming back out at the end to do a practice start. I would say it was quite a boring session for us, but boring sometimes is good because we did everything that we wanted to do.”

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 25: Nikita Mazepin of Russia driving the (9) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Styria at Red Bull Ring on June 25, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"The changeable weather influenced the action today at the Red Bull Ring, with the teams in a hurry to collect all the data that they needed before any rain fell – which was the case on FP1 and particularly at the beginning of FP2, although it was never enough to seriously affect the action other than track evolution in FP2. This uncertain weather is expected to remain for the rest of the weekend, which could provide an extra element of unpredictability in terms of strategy. The information collected today on the medium and soft compounds will also be valuable for next week, when they become the hard and medium selections for the Austrian Grand Prix, while the C5 arrives as the softest compound".

HIGHLIGHTS: See all the action from Styrian GP second practice at the Red Bull Ring

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