Spielberg, FP1 & FP2: Racing returns in Austria and Hamilton seizes the advantage
"It’s great to be back. It’s been a long time coming"
Motorsport fired up once again in Austria today as the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championshop at last got underway at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
And it was defending champion Lewis Hamilton who seized an early weekend advantage with the Mercedes setting the quickest lap of the day in afternoon practice session.
Hamilton finished almost two tenths of a second clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez claiming third place. Mercedes’ expected challengers, Red Bull and Ferrari saw their drivers finish well off the pace with Sebastian Vettel more than six tenths of a seconds behind Hamilton in fourth place and Max Verstappen in eighth, almost a full second behind Hamilton.
"It’s great to be back. It’s been a long time coming," said Hamilton afterwards. "The new car obviously feels different than the 2018 car we got to test at Silverstone a few weeks ago, but I think we have also been able to continue to improve the car compared to last year, so that’s a big positive. The track was a little bit greasy and while the grip will pick up, it feels like the track only improved a very small amount. It was looking good out there today, but you can never take too much from practice. You never know what power and fuel other teams are running. So we will take today’s result with a pinch of salt, try and improve the car tonight and come back for the fight tomorrow."
Six-time champion Hamilton was a late starter in the session but when he headed out after 25 minutes on the mediums he quickly worked his way to top spot with a lap of 1:05.095s.
Soon after the field began to make qualifying runs on soft tyres and Sergio Perez and teammate Stroll were immediately to the fore. Perez took P1 with a lap of 1:04.945s, but Stroll made a mistake through Turn 8 and lost time. The pair were then edged out by Bottas who set a new benchmark with a lap of 1:04.501. Sebastian Vettel looked like he might challenge that but in the end his flying lap saw him slot into P3 behind Perez.
It was then Hamilton’s turn and he grabbed P1 with a lap of 1:04.304. The Briton’s effort put him 0.197s clear of Bottas, with Perez and Vettel shuffled back to third and fourth.
Max Verstappen, winner of the last two Austrian Grands Prix, finished in eighth place as the lead Red Bull driver, but his flying lap was 0.911s slower than Hamilton’s best. Alex Albon finished 13th in the second Red Bull Charles Leclerc finished ninth to end a muted opening day for Ferrari.
|01||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W11||1:04.304||42|
|02||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W11||1:04.501||37|
|03||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||1:04.945||48|
|04||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari SF1000||1:04.961||48|
|05||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault RS20||1:04.972||36|
|06||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:05.087||38|
|07||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||1:05.135||49|
|08||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:05.215||41|
|09||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF1000||1:05.298||46|
|10||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:05.352||37|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Renault RS20||1:05.415||42|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:05.443||34|
|13||Alex Albon||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:05.453||47|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:05.608||49|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:05.678||44|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:05.908||50|
|17||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:06.016||51|
|18||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:06.125||40|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:06.278||44|
|20||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:07.124||45|
|01||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W11||1:04.816||42|
|02||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W11||1:05.172||38|
|03||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:05.418||37|
|04||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:05.431||41|
|05||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||1:05.512||33|
|06||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:05.621||41|
|07||Alex Albon||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:05.701||29|
|08||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault RS20||1:05.860||28|
|09||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:05.907||27|
|10||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF1000||1:05.924||31|
|11||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||1:06.074||34|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari SF1000||1:06.077||32|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Renault RS20||1:06.270||22|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:06.360||24|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:06.365||28|
|16||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:06.404||25|
|17||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:06.495||27|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:06.906||31|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:06.943||19|
|20||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:46.361||6|