Today’s two hours of free practice for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Spielberg circuit were particularly busy. Looking at the time sheets, especially the one from FP2, nothing much appears to have changed compared to a week ago, on the first day of practice for the Styrian Grand Prix. Actually, this Friday was subtly different in many ways that still need to be assessed. The main factors were that the Pirelli tyres were all one step softer than last week, it was definitely much cooler, plus it was mandatory for all teams to try the new type of tyre that will be introduced at the next round, the British Grand Prix. On top of this busy schedule, Scuderia Ferrari also had some aerodynamic solutions to compare for possible future use. For the moment, no clear picture has emerged and the engineers have plenty to do now to prepare for qualifying and a race that looks like being very close, given that even today the gaps between those behind the top two teams are very small.
FP1. In the first session, both drivers started off on the Hard tyre compound, but soon switched to testing the prototype tyre. The next job was an evaluation of the Soft C5 Pirelli compound, the only one of the three that was not used in the previous event at Spielberg. Charles and Carlos completed 33 laps each, setting very similar lap times, with respective best times of 1’05”409 and 1’05”431, which secured them second and third places on the time sheet.
FP2. In the afternoon, rain complicated matters slightly. As usual the team worked on race preparation, sending Sainz and Leclerc out on different compounds and fuel loads. Between them they did 70 laps – 37 for the Spaniard and 33 for the Monegasque. The lap times – 1’05”620 for Carlos and 1’05”708 for Charles – meant little, given that they were set just when track conditions were affected by a bit of drizzle.
Charles Leclerc #16
"It was a busy day, because of the packed programme we ran. We still have lots of things to work on, and I don’t think our times are representative. The main improvement we need to find is on the rears and we also have to tune the car better for tomorrow. We used the C5 compound for the first time, and have to understand how to extract the maximum from it. Looking at our race trim, I’d say it looks solid. In terms of qualifying pace, we still haven’t found the small step we need in order to be further ahead. We will keep working on it and hopefully secure strong starting positions tomorrow."
Carlos Sainz #55
"An interesting day at the office. Today we went on track with a very similar car to last week’s, but it felt completely different due to the wind and the change in track conditions. We have been trying different things, and we were not focusing on the timesheet. Our main goal was refining our run plan, playing with the set up and trying to understand both the new Soft compound and the new tyres Pirelli will introduce at Silverstone."