Max Verstappen was fastest after going two tenths faster than the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly in first practice for the Styrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver set a 05.910 on the soft tyre which put him ahead of the Frenchman and title rival Sir Lewis Hamilton who was four-tenths behind in third.
The next two weekends at the Red Bull Ring are expected to be a close fight between Mercedes and Red Bull. Verstappen’s fastest time could have been beaten by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, however that time was deleted when he ran too wide through the final corner, which left him down in fourth.
Mercedes had set the pace during the middle part of the session, Bottas jumping up the order from the bottom. Hamilton then went faster despite clouting the kerbs before Red Bull went to the soft tyre.
This weekend marks the start of the double header in Spielberg replacing the Canadian Grand Prix, and then the Turkish Grand Prix which were cancelled due to the pandemic. However, the race in Istanbul was reinstated ahead of the session replacing the cancelled Singapore race.
It was a strong morning for Red Bull’s sister team Alpha Tauri, Yuki Tsunoda going fifth fastest just over a hundredth behind Bottas. However, Sergio Perez struggled to get a lap together, the Mexican spun the car at Schlossgold on his soft tyre run which left down in thirteenth.
Fernando Alonso put his Alpine sixth going three-hundredths ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon. The Spaniard was one of those drivers who had several lap times deleted, but his time is still encouraging for the team.
The French team looked to be strong last weekend in Le Castellet a similarly high speed circuit with long straights, the Red Bull Ring being a similar type of circuit.
Lance Stroll put his Aston Martin eighth going a hundredth faster than the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Charles Leclerc was tenth fastest going just a thousandth ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. But both Ferrari’s had their moments during the session, Leclerc having oversteer at Castrol Edge running over the kerb and Sainz losing the rear and spinning over the kerb blocking the pitlane exit.
The lunchtime session was busier than normal, the forecast for FP2 is for heavy rain. This meant that many of the drivers had to cram in as much as possible, this also creates the possibility of mixed strategies going into the race.
Daniel Ricciardo put his McLaren twelfth, in what was a low-key session for the team with Lando Norris going sixteenth. Behind Perez was Sebastian Vettel the Aston Martin driver going fourteenth fastest, ahead of George Russell. Nicolas Latifi was seventeenth ahead of Mick Schumacher and teammate Nikita Mazepin.
Robert Kubica stood in for Kimi Raikkonen, the Polish driver splitting the two Haas’s after going over a second and a half quicker than Nikita Mazepin.