Sergio Perez was fastest in first practice ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, the Racing Point driver was nine hundredths faster than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Last weekend, Racing Point proved to be a competitive midfield car, with the Mexican finishing sixth.
Perez set his fastest time on the soft tyre, which put him ahead of the Red Bull. The team has been competitive since testing there 2020 was influenced heavily by last years Mercedes, they were a quarter of a second faster than the German Manufacturer.
There were plenty of teams up and down the grid testing new parts in a bid to improve their 2020 cars. Ferrari, who have fast-tracked two major upgrades to their car, was of particular interest as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc tested a new front wing and floor.
Mercedes are still expected to be the team to beat this weekend, Valtteri Bottas third-fastest two tenths off the pace and two hundredths faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The team, however, didn’t do any running on the soft tyre.
The lap times were nearly two seconds off the pace of Valtteri Bottas’ pole position qualifying lap last Saturday, hinting at the focus on development over pure lap time.
The conditions were warmer than they were during last weekend’s race, however, there are threats of heavy rain for qualifying on Saturday. This forecast could mean that FP2 could set the grid for Sunday as the rain is expected to continue until Sunday lunchtime.
Lance Stroll was fifth fastest a tenth faster than the Red Bull of Alex Albon on the softs. While Mercedes didn’t set there fastest times on the soft, they remain the strong position going into the rest of the weekend given the dominance displayed on Sunday.
Carlos Sainz was seventh for McLaren, the Spaniard seven-tenths off the pace but expected to be in the fight with Racing Point having finished fourth on the road with Lando Norris last Weekend. Sainz was almost a hundredth faster than the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly, who lost his fastest lap for exceeding track limits.
Daniel Ricciardo was ninth ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari has brought its Budapest upgrade a week early to try and turn around the difficult weekend last week, although they have played down the significant the update didn’t improve performance.
Red Bull also had updates aimed at solving an issue that was stalling the car’s downforce in corners at the first race. But just to underline its dominance, Austrian Grand Prix race winners Mercedes also brought a modified rear wing to the session to aid its own development.
Daniil Kvyat was eleventh ahead of Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Kimi Raikkonen. The Russian and Sergio Perez having a spin at Remus, Kvyat losing the rear as he turned in well away from the apex.
Jack Aitken and Robert Kubica finished eighteenth and nineteenth in their FP1 cameos in place of George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams and Alfa Romeo respectively.
Kevin Magnussen did not set a time and only completed three laps as Haas was forced to inspect a possible battery problem on his car for much of the session.