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What we learned from Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix



What we learned from Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix

What we learned from Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix

Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix contained as much action, if not more, than the entire weekend at the previous round in France as a car from each of the big three teams came a cropper in Spielberg.

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas prompted red-flag sessions with heavy crashes into the barriers in FP2, before Sebastian Vettel also lost control of his car in spectacular fashion, although he was lucky to come to a halt before reaching the wall.

Teams up and down the grid effectively had to give up on running significant qualifying simulations, ramping up the pressure for the weekend.

Here's what to look out for in qualifying and the race…

Ferrari close gap on Mercedes

The Red Bull Ring was expected to play into Ferrari's hands more than most other tracks and that played out as the Scuderia swapped purple sectors with Mercedes throughout.

Following on from a strong weekend in France, Charles Leclerc seems to be more comfortable than Vettel, topping the timesheets – for what little that is worth – in FP2, although the German was closest to Lewis Hamilton when he was fastest in FP1.

Although we've had few clues on the outright pace of any car, it certainly seems as though we could have a fight between at least two teams at the front.

McLaren mighty again

There's little doubt that McLaren are the 'best of the rest' right now and once again they look to be closing up to Red Bull in a fight for third place.

With Ferrari's mighty engine seeing Vettel and Leclerc at the top of the speed-trap standings, Lando Norris slotted in behind them in third place, highlighting the steps made by Renault, who now have an impressive qualifying mode to boot.

Carlos Sainz is serving a grid penalty this weekend, putting a bit of pressure on Norris to lead McLaren's charge, but he is a driver with a point to prove, having lost out on points in France due to a mechanical fault.

Renault have been the team to push McLaren in recent weeks, but they were way down the timesheets in FP2 and both Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg caught the eye in bizarre circumstances, the DRS flap on both Renaults oscillating wildly when engaged, something that will surely have to be fixed overnight.

Carbon fibre takes a battering

It wasn't just those going into the wall who racked up damages across the day, with the 'sausage' kerbs at the Red Bull Ring also coming into focus.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner estimated that his team were facing a £250,000 bill for FP1 alone, having lost three front wings to the kerbs – a figure that will have skyrocketed in FP2!

Having lamented the lack of punishment across Paul Ricard's vast run-offs a week ago, these punishing kerbs are the perfect deterrent.

The teams don't like them, but the solution is simple – don't drive over them!


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