An encouraging day of practice for the Styrian Grand Prix ended with Max Verstappen fastest for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, with a result that could end up seeing him start from pole position.
Saturday’s weather forecast is for severe thunderstorms, raising the possibility of no track running and a delay of qualifying. Should it not be possible to run qualifying on Sunday morning, then the results from FP2 will be used to set the grid.
That meant FP1 was used for more long-running and FP2 saw an increased focus on qualifying simulations. In the opening session, Max was second fastest and Alex Albon sixth, while Scuderia AlphaTauri had a slightly trickier spell of running.
Pierre Gasly lost some bodywork when running over the kerbs at Turn 9, and then Daniil Kvyat had a spin late on at Turn 3 but both drivers still showed encouraging pace to finish eighth and 11th respectively. In the afternoon session, a number of drivers went for qualifying-style attempts, getting close to their lap times from last weekend’s qualifying session.
Running was delayed after Daniel Ricciardo suffered a big crash but once it resumed, Max set the pace with a 1:03.660 to lead Valtteri Bottas, while Alex was seventh as he suffered a couple of spins during the session.
The AlphaTauri drivers were again closely matched and ended the session in 11th and 12th, with Pierre leading Daniil and falling just 0.011s short of a place in the top ten.
We will now analyse all of Friday’s data and look at what we learned from last weekend’s grand prix to prepare for qualifying and the race, in the knowledge we might need to react to difficult weather conditions throughout Saturday and Sunday.
Toyoharu Tanabe: Technical Director, Honda Racing F1: “We are back at the same track as last weekend, when we had some issues with the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars. With the teams, we analysed their causes and together we came up with a solution that we have run today.
“All four of our cars had a smooth day, but now we will carefully check all the data overnight, including that which relates to the changes we made. As there’s a chance of heavy rain tomorrow, we ran a slightly different programme and it was nice to end up with Max topping the time sheet.”