Nico Rosberg and Sebastien Vettel were the two fastest drivers in Practice for the Austrian Grand Prix today. As expected the Mercedes and the Ferrari drivers were flirting at the top of the timesheet, with the Super Soft runs proving to be quite telling in both teams pace in relation to each other.
It wasn’t without issue for Ferrari though. In the first Practice session Sebastien Vettel ran into transmission issues which forced him to stop 25 minutes into the session. The team managed to get the car back to the garage, however not before we saw a shot of team boss Maurizio Arrivabene nearly get ran down by former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa in the pit lane.
Within that first half hour we saw Mercedes comfortably quickest on the Soft tyre from nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen by around 1.2 seconds. Maldonado was also looking quick in the Lotus in P5 along with Bottas in the Williams, two teams we expect to see fighting during the race. Felipe Massa was also running with upgrades to his car in the form of a new monkey seat and barge boards on his Williams, ending the session sixth fastest.
Sauber meanwhile were struggling with power output issues whilst their drivers went out after the intermission. We also saw a lot of drivers running wide down at turn 8, namely Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton who were being caught out with their corner entry speed. Button meanwhile had issues with tyre temperatures, causing him to oversteer into some of the corners.
Teammate Fernando Alonso was due to trial new parts on the McLaren in Practice One, however engine issues meant that he only managed ten laps after coasting into the pit box with power output problems. McLaren managed to get him back out with 20 minutes left in the session, although he didn’t run the new Red Bull-style front wing until the afternoon session – and even then he only completed 17 laps.
Elsewhere Kvyat showed some early pace in the Red Bull along with Riccardo, whilst Verstappen in the sister team Toro Rosso was complaining about his car being undrivable, particularly though turn 8 where a number of drivers had issues.
At the end of that session Rosberg was quickest on a 1:10.401, which was three tenths ahead of Hamilton and six tenths ahead of Raikkonen. P5 to P15 meanwhile was separated by five tenths of a second on the Soft tyre, which bodes well for the Race.
In Practice Two we saw Vettel quickest from Rosberg by 0.011 seconds, ahead of Raikkonen who was third 0.260 seconds behind, Maldonado by 0.314 seconds, and Hamilton 0.537 seconds. Rosberg at this point shown some consistent pace around the Red Bull Ring, whilst teammate Lewis Hamilton was struggling with corner exit speed.
Raikkonen meanwhile had to cut short his long runs on the Super Soft tyre early because of a flat spot early on causing his front right to wear down to the canvas. This was after setting the fastest time of the session, five hundredths ahead of Rosberg. Teammate Sebastien Vettel do some long runs, however a gearbox oil leak put an early end to his running again, meaning Ferrari will be going into Practice 3 tomorrow without any sort of representative times on that tyre.
We also saw more drivers skating off the circuit with tyre temperature issues, Carlos Sainz being the first down at turn four getting into the gravel before just keeping it out of the barrier. It was a similar affair for Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado 20 minutes later down at turn three. Other drivers meanwhile went off at turn one, with some still using the astroturf down at turn eight.