It was a strong opening to the 2020 Formula 1 season for six-time defending champions Mercedes as six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton topped FP1 and FP2. Valtteri Bottas finished P2 in both sessions as the Brackley-based team showed their superiority once again. Pole position looks very likely to be heading their way tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton: ‘’It’s great to be back. It’s been a long time coming. The new car obviously feels different than the 2018 car we got to test at Silverstone a few weeks ago, but I think we have also been able to continue to improve the car compared to last year, so that’s a big positive. The track was a little bit greasy and while the grip will pick up, it feels like the track only improved a very small amount. It was looking good out there today, but you can never take too much from practice. You never know what power and fuel other teams are running. So we will take today’s result with a pinch of salt, try and improve the car tonight and come back for the fight tomorrow.’’
Day 1 back behind the wheel. Man I love it. Great effort from the team today and in the build up to what really is the most unusual circumstances. I’m grateful to everyone whose hard work enabled us to be back today. Sending you all positivity 👊🏾#AustrianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/kV9mtFEwBR— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 3, 2020
Valtteri Bottas: ‘’It’s fantastic to be back in the car. I’ve really enjoyed every single lap, every single run. We’ve been making good progress throughout the day, step by step, as it is to be expected after such a long break. It was a decent day overall, although we had a small problem with my car towards the end. The grip level was pretty low today, but I’m sure the track will ramp up over the course of the weekend. We need to stay on top of that as that can change the set-up quite a bit on this track. The main challenge will be to get the balance right for both high-speed and low-speed corners and fine tune the car for that single lap on Saturday, while keeping our race pace in mind as well. It’s only Friday, the lap times will come down tomorrow with the track improving, with additional performance items from all the teams and with the drivers pushing hard, so it will be interesting to find out where we stand.’’
Felt so good to be back reunited with the @MercedesAMGF1 #W11 today. And to see the whole team on it! Looking forward to quali tomorrow 🏁— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) July 3, 2020
Read about today:https://t.co/Mcv6rQUpwE#VB77 #F1 #AustrianGP #StrongerTogether @F1 pic.twitter.com/TYHQ0FlfRk
Following a strong showing in Winter Testing, Racing Point have carried that form into the season-opener. Lead driver Sergio Perez finished P5 in FP1, before improving to P3 in FP2, just ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Lance Stroll backed Perez up with P7 in the second session.
Sergio Perez: “It's been an interesting day. Everything is really close out there, especially on such a short track. The car feels good and I’m happy. In the factory, the team has done a tremendous job and we have a car underneath us that is working well.
There's still a lot of work to do – tonight and tomorrow morning – but we are in decent shape. The margins are extremely close, so it’s going to be really important to put together some really tidy laps in qualifying tomorrow.”
Max Verstappen didn’t have the smoothest day in his RB16. While the Dutchman finished 3rd behind the two Mercedes’ in the morning, he had a spin. On his qualifying simulation in the afternoon, he broke his wing after an off-course excursion proceeding that. It left him down in P8. Nonetheless, the Dutchman is positive for the rest of the weekend.
Max Verstappen: “It felt good to be back in the car and after a few laps you are quite easily back into the rhythm. Overall it was a positive day, the car was handling well and I’m pleased with the number of laps we did which is really important after such a long break.
"The lap times don’t really say anything because I broke my front wing on the push lap, so we had to fit a different wing. I think we were a little too aggressive for that and I had a spin and a little off, but nothing major. The kerbs are what they are here and it’s the same for everyone, the front wing doesn’t really like the yellow kerbs so we do have to be careful. We are I think confident and there are always things we can do better but overall it was a good day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
We are back! My front wing broke in my fast lap, so lap times don’t tell the full story. There is always room for improvement, but we had a good day, are confident and look forward to tomorrow #KeepPushing 🇦🇹 #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/dAnSyq9UHy— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 3, 2020