Formula 1 finally got back down to business on Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix, and it was a smooth day of practice from a Honda point of view.
At 11am local time at the Red Bull Ring, the pit lane opened and the sound of F1 cars filled the air to start the 2020 season after a lengthy delay while the world dealt with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The order of the day for both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri was to carry out systems checks, test new parts and prepare for Sunday’s season-opener.
At Red Bull’s home race, it was a strong start for Max as he set the third fastest time in the opening session, with Alex just over 0.2s adrift of his team-mate but a little further back in seventh as a result.
The AlphaTauri pair of Pierre and Daniil were 16th and 19th respectively, but Pierre was within half a second of the top ten as drivers got back up to speed after so long without an official F1 session.
FP2 saw Max ending up in eighth place – 0.3s off the top three – although he did have an off-track moment on his high fuel run that saw him take a trip through the gravel. All of the drivers had spins as they pushed to find the limits of their machinery, with Alex having a moment at Turn 1 as he finished 13th in the second session.
Daniil was up in 12th – 0.01s ahead of Alex – in the afternoon despite his own spin at the first corner, while Pierre ended up 17th. We now have plenty of data to analyse overnight ahead to work out how to get the most out of the cars when the serious action starts with qualifying on Saturday.
Toyoharu Tanabe, Technical Director, Honda Racing F1: “Finally, after such a long break, we are glad to see the cars running on track again for the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. There are many restrictions in the paddock and the circuit in terms of what we can do and where we can go.
“In the case of Honda, it is slightly inconvenient that our members from our two different teams cannot have any contact. But it’s a minor issue and does not affect us getting on with our main job of ensuring our cars run well. It’s strange having no fans and we miss them.
“Today, we had no PU issues with our four cars and now we will continue optimising our PU settings in preparation for qualifying and the race.”