Max Verstappen’s goal of returning to race-winning form had a boost on Friday afternoon’s second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix, with the Dutch driver posting the fastest overall time at Red Bull Racing’s home venue.
The Dutch driver narrowly beat last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix race-winner Valtteri Bottas to top spot to the tune of just 0.043 seconds. His fastest time, a 1:03.660, was still around seven-tenths of a second slower than Bottas’ pole-winning time from last weekend.
The Racing Point Mercedes’ continued to match the pace that had seen Sergio Pérez fastest of all in today’s earlier FP1 session, with the Mexican heading teammate Lance Stroll to third- and fourth-fastest on the timesheets.
Carlos Sainz Jr was the quicker of the McLarens and wound up fifth-fastest overall, while Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton appeared comparatively out of sorts in his Mercedes W11 and placed sixth on the timesheets – nearly a whopping 0.7 seconds slower than the Finn.
Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon struggled with a tail-happy RB16 and demonstrated this with a spin at Turn 3 followed by another rotation through the Turn 7/8 sequence. Nonetheless, he finished seventh-fastest but nearly eight-tenths down on Verstappen’s benchmark time.
Lando Norris’ prospects of matching his career-best qualifying performance last weekend are dead after the Briton was handed a three-place penalty for a yellow flag breach in FP1. The English youngster finished the session eighth-fastest, with his lap tally hindered by an onset of pains in his chest for which he is receiving treatment.
Updates to the Ferrari SF1000 do not appear to have improved the Italian team’s fortunes greatly. Charles Leclerc was the better-placed of the duo, lapping ninth-fastest, while teammate Sebastian Vettel was an unrepresentative P16 after having several lap times deleted for track limit violations.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon completed the top ten, however teammate Daniel Ricciardo was sidelined after a heavy crash at Turn 9 on just his second lap of the session. The Australian couldn’t catch a snap of oversteer as he turned into the high-speed right-hander, sliding backwards into the tyre wall on the outside of the track.
Ricciardo banged his knees in the impact and visited the circuit medical centre for a check-up, but perhaps worse is the extensive damage to his R.S.20 which will require lengthy repairs tonight.
With very wet weather forecast for tomorrow, there is a chance of no running at all on Saturday which could lead to the cancellation of qualifying. With a packed event schedule meaning a postponement to Sunday is unlikely, the starting grid order could be determined by the results of FP2.
This would put Ricciardo at the back of the grid behind the two Haas Ferraris of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean – both struggled for pace and neither was able to lap within two seconds of Verstappen’s session-topping effort.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX GROβER PREIS VON STEIERMARK 2020 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:03.660||27|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:03.703||+ 0.043||36|
|3.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:03.877||+ 0.217||43|
|4.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:04.241||+ 0.581||43|
|5.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:04.333||+ 0.673||45|
|6.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:04.348||+ 0.688||27|
|7.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:04.437||+ 0.777||29|
|8.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:04.541||+ 0.881||31|
|9.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:04.706||+ 1.046||35|
|10.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:04.746||+ 1.086||32|
|11.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:04.757||+ 1.097||37|
|12.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:05.050||+ 1.390||34|
|13.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:05.152||+ 1.492||23|
|14.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:05.365||+ 1.705||36|
|15.||George Russell||Williams Racing FW43||1:05.588||+ 1.928||34|
|16.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:05.613||+ 1.953||40|
|17.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||1:05.655||+ 1.995||49|
|18.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:05.790||+ 2.130||36|
|19.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:06.096||+ 2.436||38|
|20.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||no time||1|
Image via Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Fox Sports