Reaction round-up: Austrian Grand Prix practice

Reaction round-up: Austrian Grand Prix practice

The on-track action at the Red Bull Ring kicked off on Friday, ahead of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. The Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dominated once again.0992LB1D0935

Rosberg set the pace in the first session, before Hamilton topped practice two. Here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions following Friday’s running at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve:

Sebastian Vettel

“I think this morning we struggled a little bit, this afternoon it was better. We’ve seen that people struggled a bit to get the primes, the harder tyre, to work but it should be a different story tomorrow when it’s a bit hotter.

“I think everyone is looking forward to a great weekend, we’re not the favourites going into this weekend, we’d love to be but we’re not quite there yet. Today was very productive, we seemed to make progress throughout the day, but if anything, the fact that this is our home Grand Prix is an extra motivation.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“We learnt actually a hell of a lot today. We came in the morning with a few ideas and some worked, some didn’t, as always on a Friday, it’s never really a perfect Friday. But yeah, coming into P2 we tried a few more things and I feel we improved a lot from P1.

“We’ve still got a bit more I think in our pockets, but yeah, we gathered up enough information tonight to make progress for tomorrow. I don’t think we’re as quick as the Mercs, we didn’t really expect to be, but hopefully we can be the next best again.”

Nico Rosberg

“I did a lot of laps today and on a new track every lap is important for the learning process, so I’m quite happy with that. In general it was a complicated day for me, so there is still some lap time to find compared to my teammate and there is a lot of work required from me tonight.

“My car is bouncing a lot down the straights and that continues into my braking zones, so it was difficult there. But I’m sure we can improve on that. It is really great to be back on this wonderful track again, Austria definitely needs an F1 race. There we so many fans out there already, which is great to see.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It didn’t feel bad out there today considering this is a new track to me. Already after the first few laps I was feeling comfortable and always seemed to be finding time with new lines and improvements. To be as quick as I was considering others have already driven this track is a great feeling. It was very windy out there today, but we got a lot of running and we feel set for the race on Sunday.

“The high speed corners were working the rear tyres hard but they seemed to cope well. The feeling was good for both sets of tyres, even in the long runs, so if the car is like this for the race, I’m in a good place. The goal for tomorrow will be pole position but there is still a long straight up to turn two so anything can happen in the race.”

Fernando Alonso

“It’s nice to be back racing here, the track has many changes of gradient and that always makes for enjoyable driving. In both sessions, Kimi and I were on different programmes and now we must put all the data together to choose which of the elements we tested have worked best. There were no surprises on the tyre front, the Supersoft seems quicker and will definitely be the tyre for qualifying, but for the race, it’s impossible to establish now what the strategy will be.

“It was always cloudy today and there were even a few drops of rain, but the next days are meant to be sunny and so tyre behaviour could change. The good forecast means that anything is possible and hopefully that means the chance to put on a good show for the fans who were already here in large numbers today.”

Kimi Raikkonen

“Today was particularly busy, which is normal when you go back to a track for the first time in many years. Despite the changeable weather reducing the amount of track time in the first session, we still managed to complete our programme, which today centred on analysing new aerodynamic parts brought for this race.

“Along with Fernando, we concentrated on different set-up tests, me on the front end and him on the rear, so as to compare the data from the second session. In the afternoon, I had a better feeling from the car, but for various reasons, including a lack of grip, traffic and the wind, I didn’t manage to put together a good lap, or to improve in the final sector.”

Romain Grosjean

“It was good to discover the circuit at the wheel of the E22 for the first time today. We have done a lot of work, completed 74 laps however it is fair to say that we have also struggled in the sessions. I wasn’t happy with the handling and the set-up of the car but we will work hard to rectify the different areas that need working on. It was good to learn that the longer run pace was stronger, we just need to unlock that pace for qualifying tomorrow.”

Kevin Magnussen0992LB1D0582

“This is a really cool track, with some nice corners and interesting changes in gradient. This is exactly the kind of place I like: fast corners and big braking zones. And, to be honest, our car didn’t feel too bad through the high-speed stuff – there are still a few things we need to look at ahead of tomorrow’s running, but it’s been a positive day.

“We still need to look more closely at the results of today’s aero tests – and we’ll have a clearer idea of where we are by tomorrow – but the car felt good, so I’m positive. Turn Eight is a bit tricky – [to enter the pits] you have to stay right before the corner, which requires you to be slower at the apex, so we might have to have a look at that during the drivers’ briefing tonight.”

Sergio Perez

“It was a good day. We followed our programme and managed to learn a lot about the way both tyre compounds behave over long runs. The track is very challenging and it doesn’t offer many overtaking opportunities, so grid position will be crucial for a successful weekend. There are still good margins of improvement we can extract: getting everything out of the car and doing the necessary changes to use the tyres in the best way will be our main objectives for tonight.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“We had a good day. We used the time on track efficiently as we managed to get through our programme. From that point of view the sessions went well. Although, we still need to work more on the consistency of our lap times. The driveability of the car is also a factor, which is quite important during the long runs. This is our priority at the moment.”

Jean-Eric Vergne

“I think it was a positive Friday and I’m happy with my car. We brought many new parts and updates here in Austria, which means we had a lot to test and understand today. I have to say that the situation looks good. We have to put all the data together overnight but I believe we have a good potential for improvement for FP3 and particularly for qualifying tomorrow.”

Valtteri Bottas

“It’s a really nice track; I think it will become one of my favourites. It’s an old-school track with some high speed sections and no room for mistakes. With long straights it should also make racing here interesting too.

“It’s not an easy track to set the car up for as you face different issues with each corner, Turn One is an uphill right-hander and Turn Three is a downhill right-hander, both at different speeds, so we will have to analyse the data to find what works best for us. Qualifying will be very tight so it will come down to who can put the lap together best.”

Jules Bianchi0992LB1D40955

“Overall we have ended the day with a lot of good information, which will be very useful in helping us to improve for tomorrow. I lost some time due to a radio problem, which kept me in the garage, but we started to recover quite well and I think there is more to come. This is a nice track and the early signs are that we can do well here as we have already showed some good promise versus the Saubers. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Kamui Kobayashi

“We completed 24 laps in FP1 and even though a bit of rain did interrupt the session we were still able to work through the plan – obviously something that’s really important normally, but even more so on a new track like this.  In FP2 the car was immediately better after the setup changes we made over lunch, especially on braking. On the first run the traction had improved, the car had more grip and even though there was some understeer it was a good step from FP1.

“We went onto supersofts for the first performance run, and then the long run, starting on the same compound. I found six-tenths on that set in the performance run but it was a bit weird – the grip levels felt the same as the softs and even though I wasn’t expecting a massive step, it was still a bit strange that there wasn’t more grip.

“We started the long run on supersofts and I was up to lap ten of that first stint when I started feeling the car pull right under braking. It didn’t feel right so we boxed so the guys could take a look to see if there were any problems – there wasn’t anything obvious, and the data didn’t point to anything specific but we decided to end the session with about 15 minutes left so we could have proper inspection and avoid any issues on track.”

Images courtesy of Octane Photographic

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his F1 paddock debut for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle, RumbleStripNews, Formula1Blog, PureF1 and F1 Plus, as well as running a popular blog.