After the first practice session of the Austrian GP at Red Bull Ring, Max Verstappen was the fastest driver with the lap time of 1:05.143s. He was closely followed by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with times of 1:05.409s and 1:05.431s respectively. The rest of the top ten of the session were: Bottas, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Perez, Gasly and Norris.
Just after a week we go racing again at Red Bull Ring, a track surrounded by the beautiful Styrian hills, that came back to the F1 calendar in 2014. Although the race last week was deemed by many as not the most exciting ever, the track located in Spielberg usually produces quite intense GP’s. Today, we began the weekend of the Austrian GP (last week we had the Styrian GP) with cloudy skies, and 17C air temperature, which is not as warm as it usually can get.
Most of the drivers went out on the track immediately, to do some testing of the prototype tyres, due to the change in the compounds for this GP and the addition of prototype. Another important change for FP1 is the fact that instead of Fernando Alonso in Alpine, it was Guanyu Zhou driving the car, as well as Roy Nissany and Callum Ilott instead of George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi in Williams and Alfa Romeo.
Already in the first stages of session, it was the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri cars who topped the leaderboard, continuing their strong performance we’ve already seen in the previous weekend. Also immediately in the beginning, we’ve got lap times deleted for exceeding track limits, another thing that continues since the Styrian GP and is taken quite seriously by the FIA.
In the first 10 minutes of the session, the top 10 was: Verstappen, Gasly, Perez, Tsunoda, Stroll, Raikkonen, Leclerc, Sainz, Ocon and Norris. Lance Stroll travelled to the grass at turn 6, but was able to keep it out of the barriers and continue. Raikkonen had a little trouble on track due to Mazepin going slow in turn 9, but he was able to avoid a collision. The colder conditions on the track as compared to the weekend before, seemed to have an even better impact on the good performance of the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri cars. The tempo of the first 20 minutes of the session was purely dictated by those two teams. Or is it just the magic of Red Bull Ring?
The top ten has also seen the two McLaren cars, and Ferrari at that stage was able to produce times that put them on 9th and 11th.
Half an hour into the session, the top 10 was: Verstappen, with the lap time of 1:05.558s, followed by Gasly, Hamilton, Sainz, Tsunoda, Perez, Leclerc, Stroll, Raikkonen and Ocon. Lance Stroll caused a yellow flag momentarily again at turn 10, but was able to avoid the barriers and continued on track after. At that time of the session Valtteri Bottas was able to score only the 8th fastest time. Some of the drivers struggled with getting their tyres up to temperature, which resulted in spins or travelling outside of the track, but beside a few yellow flags there were no serious accidents on track.
In the last 15 minutes of the session, the Ferraris were able to get in top 3 of the session, proving they do still have the momentum going from the previous weekend. During the Styrian GP Sainz and Leclerc were able to score 6th and 7th, but without some initial issues in the race (Leclerc dropping down the grid and having to climb back up, after he also unfortunately ruined the races of drivers like Gasly). Last weeks results and the pace in the last part of the free practice session proves both Carlos and Charles are trying to squeeze the absolute most out of their cars.
The rest of the session went without any issues, and the final classification after the first practice session of the Austrian GP was: