Red Bull Racing have started their first of two home races at the Red Bull Ring in supreme fashion, with championship leader Max Verstappen leading both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two.
The opening day of the Styrian Grand Prix has been as close to perfect as it could possibly get for the championship leader, the closest competitor to Verstappen is impressively Mclaren F1 Team’s Daniel Ricciardo, but even he is just over +0.3s off!
Verstappen has certainly carried the momentum from last weekends French Grand Prix into this weekend, the Dutchman is of course eager to please the Red Bull bosses who will almost certainly be keeping a very close eye on proceedings.
The only difficulty for Verstappen across the opening day was getting stuck behind Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi in both of Friday’ sessions, the Canadian failed to observe the blue flag. Verstappen has possibly got more time to find therefore come Saturday, where the chances of rain are increasing by the second.
“Overall it’s been quite a good day for us and although there are a few things to look into, which is very normal for a Friday, I am quite happy with where the car is at the moment.
“In the second practice Lewis had a faster lap time that was deleted so it looks a bit different to what is shown at the moment on the timesheets but we expect to see both teams at the top. The weather forecast looks like it is changing all the time, so let’s see what it is actually like tomorrow, but I think it will be a very tight battle again.”
“There’s definitely some more potential in the car” – Sergio Pérez
For Sergio Pérez it was a lot less plain sailing than it was for Verstappen. The Mexican ended the opening day in ninth place, just over +0.6s behind Verstappen, which on a circuit where lap times are just over a minute, is a lot of time to find!
Pérez in the opening session joined the club of Red Bull drivers to spin at turn four, the Mexican just caught the gravel on the exit of the corner sending him into a thankfully harmless spin, nevertheless ruining his run on the soft tyres.
The Azerbaijan race winner was unable to make much progress in the afternoon session, with circuit conditions becoming tricky due to the unpredictable forecast. Pérez will be hoping to find some improvements Saturday morning, before qualifying.
“Track conditions were tricky at the start of FP2 but they improved throughout the session. From our side we need to do a bit of fine tuning as there’s definitely some more potential in the car and finding a few tenths here makes a huge difference. I’m still learning the best set-up adjustments for the car and as usual, taking my time with the engineers to get that right.
“I think we do have good pace and the long runs seem to be promising. So, if we’re able to find a couple of tenths overnight then we should be in the fight tomorrow and hopefully we can put a good lap together in Q3.”