Magnussen said he was happy with improvements the team made to traction, braking and grip, while Palmer suggested that even when it as raining there was a surprising level of grip until the moment that the car actually spun. All in all, both thought they’d had a positive day.
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:09.707, P15; FP2: 1:09.525, P15
“A pretty good day. We made some positive improvement with the car and now have better traction, better braking and more grip. It feels a lot more stable in the high speed corners so that’s good too. We’ve still got some work to do but I feel much happier with the car than I have recently.”
Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:09.851, P17; FP2: 1:10.020, P16
“It got a bit fruity out there with the downpour even if there was a surprising amount of grip in the wet right up until the point the car spun! The car actually seems pretty good here and it was a solid day for us. It feels like we’re making some good steps forward.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“Despite being interrupted by some pretty heavy showers in the afternoon, it was a reasonably productive two sessions for us. The new track surface is impressively smooth, free of bumps and gives good grip. Both drivers were happy with their cars today. The rain interruption does mean we are short of long-run data which is something we hope to rectify tomorrow.”
While Vettel said he had a decent day, Raikkonen described his as “messy”. Late on in FP2 Vettel lost control and spun a long way into the gravel at Turn 2, due to a brake bias problem. Raikkonen had a big off at Turn 5 at the start of FP2, which necessitated a long drive out, but was the first to improve his time as the track later began to dry out. The big news, apart from a single-token spend on an MGU-K update here, is that Vettel will likely have a five grid place penalty for replacing the gearbox, after metal filings were found in it after Baku.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:08.022, P3; FP2: 1:08.589, P4
“It was a decent day. It is not entirely clear where we stand, as we didn't have a lot of running due to the weather, in particular in the afternoon, but in general the car feels good. When I span at the end of the second session, I had an issue with brake distribution. It caught me by surprise, but it didn't matter too much, as I only lost a couple of minutes, and in the end it didn't make a lot of a difference. My plans for tomorrow? For sure I will watch the soccer match with the team. Italy is playing stronger than expected, Germany is quite strong as well, so it should be a good match.”
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:08.222, P4; FP2: 1:08.820, P8
“It was quite a messy day, but overall I had good feelings. In the morning we managed to have a few runs while in the afternoon, because of the weather conditions, we did not get to do many laps and never really got a proper qualifying simulation done. The day could have been a lot better, the situation now it's a bit unknown, but it's not too bad either. There is no point now in starting to guess where we are, we still have tomorrow morning to know, and I'm sure it will be ok.”
Both drivers were reasonably happy with the way their days went, weather interruption aside, and with upgrades due to arrive overnight the team are optimistic of doing well in FP3 and qualifying whatever the conditions.
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:08.998, P10; FP2: 1:08.941, P9
“It was a bit of a tricky day in terms of car balance. Obviously with the rain in FP2, we struggled to set-up the car, but I’m sure before FP3 tomorrow we can still improve the car and our lap times. I think it was a good idea to go out in the rain to check the balance, because there’s a possibility of rain for the rest of the weekend. We now have a good idea of how the car works in wet conditions and we will know what adjustments we need to make if it does rain.”
Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:08.824, P7; FP2: 1:09.184, P12
“It wasn’t a perfect Friday due to the weather, but at least we had some laps in the wet as well as the dry to understand the car in both conditions, so it wasn’t bad. We couldn’t learn everything we would have liked because of the weather, but the feeling of the car was ok in the wet, with half the track very wet and the other half quite dry, so it was actually a reasonable Friday to understand the car. The track is much quicker than before because the asphalt grip is a little bit higher and the kerbs are flat, so you can use them a lot more than in the past. You can have a tricky moment if you use too much, but it’s up to you how much you use. Now we need to wait until tomorrow to understand where we are once everyone is on similar tyres and fuel loads.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
“It was a bit of a disjointed session because of the weather. We ran at the start of FP2 to try to beat the weather like everyone else, but it wasn’t possible. It rained very heavily for a long period before we decided to go out on the intermediate tyre, where we tried different set-up options. Once we managed to get a clear lap in, we were reasonably competitive. I’m quite happy with how competitive we are on the dry tyres. We were able to go out at the end of the session and learn a little bit about our set-up for qualifying and the race, and if we’d been able to get our laps in before the virtual safety car we would have finished the session higher. There are a lot of unknowns going into the rest of the weekend, as there always are on disjointed days like today, but that’s good because we’ve got some upgrades coming tomorrow which we’re going to try and get on the car that should move us forward. The new asphalt offers a little more grip than before, but not a huge amount. The kerbs are a lot lower and the drivers reported that the track is particularly quick because of that. We’re still learning about the asphalt and its interaction with rubber, and we will continue to do so as it evolves throughout the weekend. We understood it today, but the trick with new asphalt is understanding how it evolves, what it’s going to be like on Sunday and therefore what the delta is going to be between tyre compounds, and the degradation.”
Both drivers were satisfied that they’d gathered plenty of data for overnight evaluation, and that the STR11 can be competitive here. With sixth in both sessions, Sainz went some way to showing why Red Bull have recently taken up the option on his contract for another year.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:08.803, P6; FP2: 1:08.713, P6
“I think today was a very good day for us. Obviously it’s a bit difficult to make any conclusions as it’s only Friday, everyone’s run plans were different and we even had some rain, but we can be happy. It seems like every tyre is working well on this new tarmac - there’s a lot of grip and lap times are very quick compared to last year. It feels nice to drive here, it’s one of the smoothest surfaces I’ve ever driven on and the car feels great around here! Tonight we will continue to work hard and prepare for the rest of the weekend.”
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:08.990, P9; FP2: 1:09.207, P13
“We can be satisfied with today, our practice sessions were very useful and I’d say we have enough data to be in good shape tomorrow. There was a lot going on in both FP1 and FP2 – we had some dry running, then it rained, then the sun came out again… So it’s been interesting! I’m feeling okay in the car and I think we can be positive for tomorrow.”
Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer
“There was definitely a bit of everything today: we changed our plans slightly this morning, as we saw there was a chance to have some rain in FP2. In the end, I think this was probably the right thing to do as the rain did come. It meant we used the ultrasoft in FP1 instead of FP2 as we usually do. As anticipated, the new tarmac has certainly given faster lap times than last year and this has given the tyres a much harder time. To that end, the long runs we did in FP1 look quite tricky for the tyre. We saw quite a bit of rear graining and this will need some careful consideration regarding the set-up for the rest of the weekend. In the wet both drivers took quite a measured approach, building up their pace lap by lap and they were quite happy with the car.”
Paul Hembery, motorsport director
“The new smooth surface and the ultrasoft tyre combined to produce the fastest lap ever recorded at the Red Bull Ring this morning, which could mean that a sub-1m06 lap is possible in qualifying if it stays dry. With the heavy rain keeping the cars off the track for a large chunk of FP2, this didn’t provide a proper opportunity to gather representative running data on this track.”
McLaren had a fairly inconclusive day, but did get a brief opportunity for Alonso to try their distinctive new rear wing endplates in FP1, in readiness for Silverstone. Both drivers were also very quick in wet conditions - which could be a factor in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:09.567, P14; FP2: 1:09.075, P11
“I quite like the new track surface - it’s very smooth and there are no bumps. We were also able to exploit the grip, which was quite good. This afternoon, we had the opportunity to run on the track after the rain - it only took 30 minutes for the circuit to dry out enough for us to fit dry-weather tyres.
“I think we need to be ready and focused for any opportunity if it rains on Sunday like it did this afternoon - we should try and take advantage of that.”
Jenson Button - FP1: 1:09.365, P13; FP2: 1:08.994, P10
“Even with the new asphalt, the camber changes in the corners make it tricky to drive around here. Plus, there are a lot of big, wide kerbs that you can use, but they wear the floor, which makes it difficult for everyone.
“We use all three different types of dry-weather compound today - and I still think it’s a bit up-in-the-air about which tyres will be best in the race. Then, on the Inters, we were one of the quickest cars, which was a positive.
“There are a lot of fast cars out there, so it’ll be tough for us to get into Q3 tomorrow, but there’s rain forecast for the rest of the weekend, which should give us some useful opportunities.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“A tricky day for the team as we juggled our programme to adapt to the changing weather conditions. This afternoon’s mid-session shower was quite incredible in its suddenness and sheer intensity, but, happily, it quickly dried out and we were able to get some running under our belts before the end of FP2.
“Nonetheless, the wet conditions robbed us of the opportunity to gather as much useful long-run data as we’d normally like, so there’s still a bit more work to do tomorrow - weather permitting - to best prepare us for qualifying.
“The morning’s session was spent undertaking a number of aero tests as we work to introduce new components. Both drivers were satisfied with the car’s balance, despite the lack of running, but we still need to make some improvements if we’re to challenge for Q3 tomorrow and points in Sunday’s race.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
"Today as a whole became a busy Friday for the team due to the sudden rain in FP2. From a power unit point of view, we have carried over almost all components from the European GP, so we focused on our set-up for the weekend as well as support the team's run plans.
"Last year, we were hampered by lack of deployment on the final straight and the steep inclines of Turns 1 and 2, but I am happy to say that our new turbo's upgrades have been working well this weekend.
"The weather forecast still shows instability and rain for the weekend, so we hope to be prepared for whatever nature throws at us."
Rosberg and Hamilton were happy with their cars’ balance, though Hamilton said it took him longer to get the time out of the revised track and that there was a lot more to come from him. Both had moments; Hamilton spun ahead of Grosjean at Turn 3 in FP1, then went off at Turns 1 and 8, while Rosberg also spun in FP1 and went off at Turn 1 in FP2. But overall, it was a positive day in the Silver Arrows camp.
Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:07.373, P1; FP2: 1:07.967, P1
“There are some changes to the circuit this year with the new asphalt and kerbing; from my point of view those changes are pretty cool and it's still a really enjoyable track to drive. The new asphalt seems to be suiting our car quite well, maybe better even than the old tarmac, but tyre usage will be the decisive factor this weekend as we saw quite a lot of graining during our dry running. In the wet this afternoon, I found a good balance with the car, so overall I'm pretty happy with our first day.”
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:07.730, P2; FP2: 1:07.986, P2
“It was a tricky day getting up to speed and getting laps out on track. It started coming together this morning but then the rain in the second session meant we had to adapt our programme. Luckily, the high track temperatures meant the circuit dried out very quickly, so I was able to get more running on the ultra-soft tyre before the session finished and to get a feel for the balance and performance. We didn't have any problems today, which is definitely a positive, and there's definitely more to come. So I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“It's been a good day as we managed to do quite a lot of work despite the disruption of the rain. We had a couple of spins this morning, one for each car but no real damage was done. We needed to do a little bit of work on the balance of both cars but overall the drivers are happy with their respective performances. It's amazing how hard it can rain and yet within an hour the track can be completely dry again. I've never seen anything like that - ever!”
Grosjean had to spin at Turn 3 in FP1 to avoid Hamilton, who had looped his Mercedes, but had an otherwise fruitful morning but a more frustrating afternoon. Gutierrez had an electronic problem which cost him time in the morning, then inadvertently held up the world champion by going very slowly in FP2.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:09.078, P11; FP2: 1:10.400, P20
“FP2 was a tricky session with the weather. The morning was not too bad. I was pretty happy with the car. This afternoon we focused more on the long run on high fuel. The car doesn’t feel too bad. It’s all about understanding the tires and avoiding the graining, and then getting them in the proper working range. We’re getting better and better with that.”
Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:10.110, P19; FP2: 1:10.138, P18
“It was a very tricky day for us. It was not easy to have consistency, especially with the first practice. I managed to do some laps, but then we had a problem, which interrupted the whole session. It was the same in the second practice. We had only done a few laps and it started to rain, then at the end of the session I got held up by another issue. So, overall it was not a great day today, but we will try to do our best to recover for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and qualifying.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“FP1 was productive for Romain. We achieved our program and got a lot of data from the session. We were prepared for the rain in the afternoon, so it wasn’t a normal Friday morning as we did a little of the FP2 program as well. We wanted to do the same with Esteban, but he had an electronic issue which resulted in him only being able to go out to do an installation lap at the end. We were expecting the rain in FP2 and we got as much done as we could. We then waited for the rain to pass but, unfortunately, we had the same electronic problem for Esteban that he experienced in FP1, which resulted in stopping his program early. We are making a few changes and, hopefully, that will resolve the issue. Romain, however, managed a long run and we completed everything we wanted to achieve.”
Nasr struggled with a power loss in FP1, while Ericsson received a reprimand after going too quickly into the pits, understeering wide, and forcing Ricciardo to go off in avoidance through Turn 9. Those incidents aside, it was a 'decent' day for the Swiss team.
Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:09.929, P18; FP2: 1:10.140, P19
“It was a decent day. It’s Friday, so we needed to run as many laps as possible in both practice sessions. The track is quite different with the new surface as well as the new kerbs. There was a lot to learn today. We were able to test three different compounds - the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres. It was good to see the steps between them. FP2 was not ideal with the rain interrupting our programme. Nevertheless, we gathered some data today, and I am sure we can optimise things for tomorrow.”
Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:10.314, P20; FP2: 1:10.444, P21
“In FP1 we were able to cover a decent mileage. I was able to see how the car behaves on the new surface on soft and supersoft tyres. It was important to understand the new tarmac and how much it is affecting the tyres. In terms of the car set-up, I am satisfied with the balance so far. I ran the practice engine, so I am sure there is more to come when I go back to the race engine from tomorrow on. In FP2 the heavy rain compromised our programme as we could not do high-fuel runs as planned. It is a bit of an unknown for us, but other teams were compromised as well. We will have a busy FP3 session ahead of us.”
Ricciardo was pleased that he wasn’t having to fight the RB12 and that pace came quickly. He’s looking forward to a wet race, believing that “anything could be possible” in such circumstances. Verstappen lost an endplate in FP1 after going over one of the controversial yellow kerbs, but it was when he went over the one at Turn 5 later that the real trouble occurred. That damaged his right front suspension, sending him into the gravel at Turn 6 and losing him track time in both sessions as repairs were effected.
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:08.528, P5; FP2: 1:08.649, P5
“I think we’ve had a pretty good day and didn’t fight the car too much today. This morning we got up to speed pretty quickly, which was important. Then this afternoon was crazy. The level of rain was really high during the session, but it was actually good to experience two different conditions. The rain was so local and came in really hard at Turn 8 and 9 so that part of the track was especially tricky. If in the race you get that part of the track first before the others then you could be quite unlucky. It’s been a track where we struggled a bit in the past, but I felt pretty comfortable from lap one so I think we are more or less there and won’t be here until midnight tonight trying to find a set up. We are pretty close to where we need to be so that’s a good start. If it rains tomorrow then anything is possible. It’ll be very interesting.”
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:08.962, P8; FP2: 1:08.761, P7
“The first session today was a bit shorter than I would have liked, so we lost a bit of time there and also at the beginning of the second session. The car wasn’t quite ready due to the damage we suffered in the first session so that put us on the back foot a bit. We would have liked to run more but I’m pretty happy heading into Saturday with the laps I did, it wasn’t too bad. I actually didn’t expect to be that close so I’m quite happy. The kerbs are pretty high and can cause damage as we saw, but it’s up to us to stay off them and respect the track limits. I didn’t know they would be so hard on the car, perhaps one longer kerb instead of lots of smaller ones would be better. Looking ahead at the weather for the rest of the weekend I hope it rains because our car is really good in the wet, so let’s see what happens in qualifying.”
Force India had yet another strong day, with Hulkenberg on strong form to depose Vettel in the closing stages of FP2. Perez, meanwhile, lost track time thanks to the weather, to add to the FP1 session he’d missed as Celis was given another run.
Sergio Perez - FP2: 1:09.226, P14
“It was one of those days when the wet weather really limited our programme. I didn’t drive this morning so the wet session this afternoon was not ideal. I feel that I’m a little bit on the back foot and it’s going to be important to maximise what we can get out of final practice tomorrow. Nico has shown that the car is competitive here and hopefully I can find some more performance in the morning to be ready for qualifying.”
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:09.280, P12; FP2: 1:08.580, P3
“Definitely a solid day. The car feels okay, but we still have some homework to do tonight to improve the balance. It was quite a strange day with the changing weather, especially this afternoon when the big storm arrived, and the knock-on effect means we don’t have very much long-run data - but it’s the same for everybody. We were able to do some laps on the intermediate tyres, which is important because we don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow and whether the rain will return. Overall, I think we are in good shape heading into the weekend.”
Alfonso Celis - FP1: 1:10.860, P22
“It was a straightforward session for me and I’m pleased we had a smooth day. I only ran on the soft tyres, so there was definitely extra performance to be found on the supersoft or ultrasoft, but the team’s programme was to focus on understanding the soft. We also did a few test items and procedural checks, and everything went to plan.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“An encouraging day despite the changeable weather. We knew rain was expected this afternoon so we focussed on understanding the soft tyre this morning alongside some aero and mechanical tests. The storm arrived very early into the afternoon session and meant the track was constantly evolving and it was difficult to learn much, even when we switched to dry tyres. The drivers are relatively happy with the car, but there is room for improvement on a track where we typically see a very tight grid.”
Both drivers received reprimands for indiscretions in FP1; Haryanto for the manner in which he rejoined from a spin at Turn 9 right in front of Ricciardo, Wehrlein for speeding under the Virtual Safety Car as Verstappen’s car was recovered. Aside from that, both enjoyed their first runs on the resurfaced track, even if Haryanto was unable to set a time in FP2.
Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:09.775, P16; FP2: 1:10.034, P17
“Well, we were expecting [the rain]; the forecast was pretty accurate. Everything was okay for me. Of course, we wanted to drive more and work through more of the test programme, but at the end of the day it’s the same for everyone. We didn’t manage to complete a run on the ultrasoft tyre but at this stage I’m happy with the car, particularly at the end of the day. I’ve known this track for some time and I like it. It’s high speed with fast corners and good opportunities to overtake, so in general it’s nice to drive.
Rio Haryanto - FP1: 1:10.493, P21; FP2: No time
“This morning we tried a few different set-up changes and everything was going well but then unfortunately I made a mistake, spun off and that destroyed the tyres. On the positive side we knew we had a reasonable balance and we were confident in the direction for FP2. This afternoon the weather changed and conditions were very tricky, but 20 minutes before the end we had a reasonably dry track to play with and we could start to make good progress again. For the last run I took on the ultrasoft tyres but the yellow flags came out for the spin by Vettel. Although I wasn’t able to improve the lap time because of that, I think we’re in a good place for tomorrow. My first impressions are that the track is much smoother and generally better than in my previous years of racing here in another formula. I think there is more grip all round, so yes, I’m enjoying it.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“Today was one of those days where we had a bit of everything. We had great weather for FP1, although quite a slippery track to start off with, and then for FP2 just enough time for one quick run on a dry track before the heavy rain stopped play for a bit. We finished off on a rapidly drying track that was good enough for slicks in the final 15 minutes or so. Great stuff and very enjoyable - challenging for the drivers and certainly challenging for the team. Taking everything into account we are quite comfortable in that we know we have made good improvements to the car since Baku and I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow, which hopefully will be dry.”