Friday’s second practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix spelled disaster for two of the event’s former winners, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, who both ended their sessions early in the barriers. At the end of a heavily disrupted session, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc emerged quickest overall.

Verstappen was the first driver to come to grief falling victim to windy conditions. The Red Bull Racing driver lost the back end of his RB15 as he rounded the final corner, spinning his car and sliding backwards into the barriers. It was a heavy impact, prompting the officials to bring out the red flags.

“I was already complaining all my laps about the wind being really tricky. In some places, [I was] just losing the rear. I got into that corner and suddenly, you can see in the data, the rear turned around,” Verstappen explained later.

“Crashes can happen unfortunately, but maybe it’s a good thing because they’ll take the whole car apart so [fit] a few new parts on it!”

The session was restarted with 45 minutes to go but suspended again just a few minutes later when 2017 race winner Bottas crashed at Turn 6. The Finn’s Mercedes broke free at the rear on the approach to the left-hander, spearing him into the gravel before he could catch the slide. He crashed nose-first into the barriers – the impact measured 23G – heavily damaging the front end of his car but was thankfully uninjured.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 W10 - 2019 Austrian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas compromised his weekend’s preparations with a heavy crash at Turn 6.

It looked as though the session was heading for its third red flag interruption when, just minutes after the second restart, Sebastian Vettel appeared to replicate Verstappen’s high-speed spin at the final corner. The German somehow kept his Ferrari out of the barriers, sheepishly returning to the pits with heavily flat-spotted tyres.

The disruptions and yellow flags coincided with the time when drivers typically aim to perform their qualifying-style runs ahead of longer, higher-fuel runs later on. The net effect, therefore, was a rather inconclusive result on the timesheets with Vettel and championship leader Lewis Hamilton both unable to post a representative lap time that would indicate their true one-lap pace.

Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc ended the session fastest overall with a time marginally quicker than the lap time posted by Hamilton to go fastest in FP1. Bottas finished second-fastest despite losing half of the session, while Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly – who had his own trip off-track at Turn 4 – was third-quickest in the sole remaining RB15.

With Hamilton fourth-fastest, an impressive fifth-quickest was the McLaren of Carlos Sainz who repeated his strong form in FP1. Despite the knowledge that he will be starting Sunday’s race at the back of the grid due to taking on a raft of new Renault power unit elements, the Spaniard continued to push hard and even had his own off-track moment at Turn 6 at the end of the session.

Completing the top ten were Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen – ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari in P8 – with Verstappen ninth-fastest ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:05.086 37
2. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:05.417 + 0.331 12
3. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing RB15 1:05.487 + 0.401 33
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:05.529 + 0.443 43
5. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:05.545 + 0.459 44
6. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:05.701 + 0.615 38
7. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:05.728 + 0.642 37
8. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:05.871 + 0.785 34
9. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:05.879 + 0.793 13
10. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:05.952 + 0.866 48
11. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:05.960 + 0.874 41
12. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:05.964 + 0.878 43
13. Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:06.064 + 0.978 46
14. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:06.119 + 1.033 37
15. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:06.148 + 1.062 38
16. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:06.249 + 1.163 27
17. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:06.418 + 1.332 30
18. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:06.829 + 1.743 40
19. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:07.217 + 2.131 27
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:08.508 + 3.422 38

Images via Scuderia Ferrari

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.