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Max Verstappen completed a practice double for the Styrian Grand Prix as Valtteri Bottas spun in the pit lane.
Verstappen, who leads Lewis Hamilton by 12 points ahead of the eighth round, here at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, followed up his fastest effort in the first running by finishing quickest in the concluding running of the day.
The Dutch driver was three tenths ahead of McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, with the Alpine of Esteban Ocon third. Hamilton was fourth, 0.384 seconds adrift of his championship rival.
Hamilton's team-mate Bottas is under investigation by the FIA after he bizarrely lost control of his Mercedes in the pit lane.
The Finn, already 72 points off the pace in the championship, spun after he pulled away from his garage. He narrowly avoided the pit wall before coming to a standstill next to the McLaren garage.
The McLaren pit crew assisted Mercedes in helping a red-faced Bottas recover from his curious predicament, but then complained to FIA director Michael Masi.
"Michael that's absolutely ridiculous," said McLaren team manager Paul James. "He could have taken our guys out there, and the pit wall." Masi was in agreement, with Bottas called to see the stewards.
Mercedes have dominated Formula One, winning the past seven drivers' and constructors' championships.
But they are facing a stern examination of their credentials, with Verstappen's triumph at Circuit Paul Ricard last Sunday Red Bull's third in succession.
On the evidence of the action at the Red Bull Ring, the Dutchman remains the man to beat, but Hamilton will draw some comfort from posting a time quicker than his rival, despite it being deleted after he ran wide at Turn 10.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Alpine ahead of the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel.
Lando Norris, an impressive fifth in the standings following a strong start to the season, ended the day in seventh, half-a-second off the pace.
Styrian Grand Prix, second practice classification
Max Verstappen, Red Bull 1:05.412
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren +0.336
Esteban Ocon, Alpine +0.378
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes +0.384
Fernando Alonso, Alpine +0.415
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin +0.522
Lando Norris, McLaren +0.582
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +0.667
Sergio Pérez, Red Bull +0.677
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo +0.733
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +0.735
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes +0.839
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +0.858
Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo +0.885
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +1.039
George Russell, Williams +1.216
Mick Schumacher, Haas +1.474
Nikita Mazepin, Haas +1.992
Nicholas Latifi, Williams +2.257
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri (no time)
What to make of that, then?
Hard to say these days, given how close it is between Mercedes and Red Bull. That's something to be thankful for, of course. Such a short lap that I think the drivers could have more of an influence than somewhere like Paul Ricard. There, Red Bull looked quicker on one-lap pace (and Mercedes looked a little faster on Sunday) but I do not think that is the case here.
We'll have Phil Duncan's practice report up soonish.
Thanks for joining us and remember to tune in with us this weekend for qualifying and the race.
GAS (no time)
FP2 ENDS - VERSTAPPEN QUICKEST
He ends 0.336s ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and 0.378s ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon. Hamilton down in fourth 0.384s behind his rival but there was a bit of pace in the Mercedes that wasn't shown, especially as Hamilton had at least one, if not two, hot laps deleted.
FP2 - Ricciardo struggling after 15 laps on the soft
Front left looks pretty angry. Car does not look compliant in the slightest. Hamilton comes out on the softs with the chequered flag about to fall, assume it's because he will be doing a practice start on the grid at the end of a session, along with a few others.
FP2 - As ever, the order is not changing
As drivers finish off their longer runs. Just a couple of minutes remain in the session.
FP2 - McLaren not happy with Bottas's pit lane spin in front of them
They get on the radio to race director Michael Masi.
"Michael that's absolutely ridiculous. He could have taken our guys out there and the pit wall."
Masi says he agrees, twice. We know it'll be looked at. Wonder if it'll be a fine... but it wasn't really reckless. He was attempting to spin his rears up when he left the pit box, to leave some rubber there for some extra grip throughout the weekend.
In any case, it's been fascinating having the access to the team-FIA radio the last few races.
FP2 - Hamilton comes in...
And he changes his soft tyres for some hard tyres which he will finish the session on.
FP2 - Nine minutes remain
A few stint bests...
Hamilton (11 laps, soft): 1.09.313
Alonso (10 laps, medium): 1:09.663
Vettel (14 laps, medium): 1:09.658
Norris (15 laps, soft): 1.09.658
Ricciardo (7 laps, soft) 1:10.372
Stroll (15 laps, medium): 1.10.418
Pérez (8 laps, soft): 1:09.575
Bottas (7 laps, hard): 1:09.575
Ocon (12 laps, medium): 1.09.895
Verstappen is four laps into a stint on the hard tyres with a best of 1:09.435, so not especially comparable.
FP2 - Bottas was quite close to the McLaren mechanics in the pit lane when he spun
Will be an investigation by the stewards though not sure what will come of that. He lit the rears up leaving his pit box and went around. Can't remember that happening before, though I am sure it has.
FP2 - What's happened here?
Looks like Bottas has somehow spun in the pitlane, in front of the McLaren garage. How strange.
FP2 - The rain has stayed away, largely
It hasn't had much of an effect on this session, in any case, though we did have a few spits and spots.
Here's the full order with 18 minutes remaining.
GAS (no time)
FP2 - Have said it before and I'll say it again
I think, rain or not, qualifying is going to be fascinating tomorrow. And I expect some unexpected results. Short track, very few corners and the field has tightened up immensely this season. The second row is within reach for the likes of AlphaTauri, McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine and maybe even Aston Martin. Any more? It's possible...
FP2 - We're onto the longer runs now
With more fuel. So unlikely that the times are going to change but good to keep an eye on what sort of lap times are being posted in race trim. Hamilton's last time was 1:09.393 with Verstappen's a 1:05.562. Hamilton a lap earlier into his stint.
FP2 - Bottas only down in 12th
He's done 12 laps, fewer than most, but has seemed to be running a slightly different program to the other drivers around him.
FP2 - Latifi had an off too
Not the best session from the Canadian so far.
FP2 - Timing and order update
Pérez having a rather typical Friday afternoon for him, adrift of Verstappen by several tenths.
FP2 - 31 mins remain
Ricciardo has set a time quick enough for second, but it's a fair way adrift of Verstappen. 0.336s in fact. The only gaps bigger than the one between first and second are the 0.5s between Mick Schumacher in 17th and Mazepin in 18th and the 0.5s between Mazepin and Latifi, in 19th.
FP2 - Hamilton goes top of the pack with a 1:05.355s...
Verstappen then posts a lap time 0.077s slower. However, Hamilton had his quickest lap deleted for exceeding track limits in turn 10 and drops back down to third, behind Verstappen and Ocon.
FP2 - Alonso into third
Within a tenth of his team-mate in quickest. Pérez goes seventh, 0.396s off Ocon's time. Vettel fourth, Norris fifth. The sole AlphaTauri in this session (Tsunoda) is struggling to make as much of an impression in this session as he did in the first. He's down in 12th, 1.116s off the pace.
FP2 - A couple of yellow flags
Mazepin has spun it into the gravel, eventually gets it going though.
FP2 - Ocon with a blistering time!
0.006s quicker than Hamilton. Not sure they will be challenging for pole but that's a little surprise at this stage. Same tyre compound, too.
FP2 - Hamilton now quickest with his first run on the soft tyres
0.138s quicker than Vettel. Norris up into third, two-tenths off Hamilton.
FP2 - Top 10 and gaps after the first runs – Vettel goes fastest
Bottas still circulating on the softs, though he may come in soon. Indeed he does.
The two Aston Martins making the most of a clear track and soft tyres to lead the timing sheets with 42 minutes left on the clock. Nice work. The qualifying simulation runs are now starting in earnest.
FP2 - Bottas likes it around here
The first driver on the soft tyres, though, and he is about to go quickest – but by how much? Tell a lie, he actually goes second by 0.059s. Mercedes look to be struggling relative to Red Bull in the final sector. Verstappen's quickest time on the hards, Bottas's on the soft...
Hamilton dips a couple of left wheels onto the gravel but keeps it going.
FP2 - Verstappen goes quickest
0.166s ahead of Hamilton. Bottas has finally emerged from the pits onto the soft tyres straight away. Interesting...
He's 0.053s up on Verstappen after one sector...
FP2 - Rain still quite light, though the skies are darkening
Hamilton goes straight on at turn three again. Alonso up in third looks impressive but he's the only runner in the top six who set their time on the medium tyre.
FP2 - Sainz spins
Dipped an outside wheel into the gravel and the rear goes around. Still no sign of Bottas, not sure what's going on there.
FP2 - Verstappen goes quicker still
0.008s quicker than Alonso. But Hamilton then beats that by nearly 0.3s. Here's the early top 10 and gaps.
FP2 - This is where the weather is coming from
Pérez locks up his hard tyres and goes straight on at turn three. The clouds are darkening.
FP2 - Still no sign of Bottas
Alonso going well again in sector two. Pérez says "it's raining a bit but the track is okay".
Can Alonso improve? Yes. He goes quickest by 0.071s. One man who won't mind a rainy session is Gasly, then. He's sitting this session out and was mighty quick earlier on.
FP1 - Don't think anyone will waste any time today
Verstappen out on the hard tyres and goes quickest, 0.262s ahead of Alonso, who was on the mediums. The rain is getting a bit heavier according to Carlos Sainz...
FP1 - 58 mins remain
Everyone out on track bar Gasly, who is not taking part in this session, and Bottas (we don't know why). Alonso the first man to set a lap time – a 1:06.984. That's two-tenths ahead of Carlos Sainz at this very, very early stage.
GREEN LIGHT: FP2 BEGINS
Should be a mad rush out of the pit lane, given what we know about the weather.
80 per cent chance of rain for the session
Track temperature falling. A rainy session is one thing but, given this session is an hour long, I am not sure if we got, say, a dry first 15 mins and then a rainy final 45, we'd see much running in the wet.
Problems for Gasly, he's out of the session
He was pretty impressive in FP1 as he has been all season.
Looks like the rain has held off for now, actually
A few sports earlier and some dark clouds in the distance but fairly sunny and no rain at the moment.
W Series is part of F1's support bill for the very first time this weekend...
...as it will be next weekend. Ahead of this momentous season, I previewed the year ahead. How W Series is returning bigger, better and on F1 support bill after near 700-day absence.
Definitely some rain about
First practice highlights
The airwaves were blue, let us say.
Rain forecast to begin in the next hour or so at the track
So the conditions could be a little different in second practice. It's not super warm at the track but you'd expect it to dry up fairly quickly if it stops and the cars get out there. But we will see. Second practice starts at 2pm BST so not a great deal of time.
I'll be back around 1.20pm to lead you into that. See you then, we'll have a full practice report up for you very shortly.
FP1 - SESSION ENDS
So, just 0.124s between Ocon in seventh and Vettel in 14th...
FP1 - One minute remains
Encouraging session from Alpine as well, though really six-tenths off they are in that massive group from 6th-14th between 0.6 and 0.8s off Verstappen's time. AlphaTauri in second and fifth, on today's showing, looking the more hooked up of the midfield at this stage.
FP1 - Another slightly curious session from McLaren today
Down in 12th and 16th. We've seen this in first practice a few times this season. And we saw it in pre-season testing. They rarely go for the headline lap times but are there at the end of qualifying. Shouldn't be anything to worry about, but who knows at this stage?
FP1 - Bottas goes straight on at turn one
And he also squeezes Antonio Giovinazzi off the track on the run up to turns three and four. Bit of an eventful 10 seconds or so for the Finn.
Verstappen still leads Gasly, by the way.
FP1 - This is how you get out of the way
What this picture doesn't show is how much Gasly slammed on the brakes at the same time.
FP1 - Not much change in the order now
And unlikely to change with eight minutes left, as drivers fill up with fuel and try and get data for race simulations. Very important with rain forecast for later this afternoon.
FP1 - Turns out it is George Russell in the Williams
I thought so...
Anyway, he's 15th at the moment, 0.938s off Verstappen's time. Hamilton has a lap deleted, though it was on the mediums and wasn't a "hot" lap as it were. Though hot enough for him to run massively wide.
FP1 - Not sure what happened to Norris, down in P16
He, I think, is running a bit out of sync with other drivers. He crosses the line on a hot lap, running wide at the final turn and doesn't improve anyway.
FP1 - Gasly annoyed at Sainz
"Carlos is a ----. He's ----- blind," he says on the radio. Lots of effing and jeffing on the radios recently.
Oooh Pérez spins at turn four, dropping it on the exit. Perhaps dipped a wheel into the gravel.
19 mins remain and Verstappen leads Gasly, followed by Hamilton and Bottas.
FP1 - I'm still not sure it's Roy Nissany in that Williams
It's what we've been told, the timing screens show Russell and whoever it is also 0.3s quicker than Latifi... fair play if he is but, naturally, we've not seen much of either Williams car on the broadcast pictures.
FP1 - Updated and full order after 35 mins
Pérez seemed to hit a bit of traffic on his hot lap, hence him being a way off the pace. Well, that was part of it. He wasn't looking especially rapid before he hit traffic.
FP1 - Verstappen onto the soft tyres now
This will be interesting. Gasly goes quickest overall in sector one, though. AlphaTauri looking hooked up here.
Where does the Frenchman end up? He goes quickest by 0.166s. How long will that last? Bottas on another quick lap, two tenths up after two sectors.
Verstappen puts in a blinding finals sector to go quickest but Bottas has a poor last sector and ends up 0.245s behind the Dutchman. But he has his lap deleted anyway, running very wide in the fianl turn.
FP1 - Hamilton improves again
Quicker than 0.054s.
Here's another quick update.
FP1 - Bottas to the top
Just 0.004s quicker than Hamilton. Yuki Tsunoda – who really needs a good weekend – is third, 0.100s off the pace. Encouraging.
FP1 - Oh, Alonso has had his lap time deleted
Never mind. The pace is still there, though. Unless he took a really big short cut...
FP1 - Bottas up to fourth - 0.331s off Hamilton
A bit of rain possible in this session and it has been a very busy start. Alonso now up to second, just 0.085s off Hamilton's time. Interesting. I wonder if we could see a Red Bull or Mercedes a bit further down the grid this weekend.
FP1 - Hamilton up 0.110s after two sectors
On his soft tyres, that is. Goes fastest by 0.121s. Norris improves but is still half a second off Hamilton after his first run on the red striped tyres. Ricciardo a couple of tenths or so quicker.
FP1 - The soft tyre running starts...
Hamilton and Norris the first two men to bolt them on.
And we have a yellow flag in sector one... there's a Ferrari that has spun at the end of the pit lane... Hamilton, I think, is also leaving the pit lane but has to stop. Sainz gets it going again. He dropped it on the kerbs at turn one. Said the car was stuck in false neutral, somehow.
FP1 - Tsunoda up to fourth
Which makes it a Honda 1-2-3-4...
FP1 - Full order after 18 mins
Bottas surprisingly at the bottom after 12 laps on the medium. Assume he must be testing some part or another or doing some kind of testing run.
Verstappen has improved again to a 1:06.511. To compare with last year, the 2020 pole time was 1:02.939.
FP1 - Gasly goes second
Just 0.059s off top spot. He is driving superbly this season, once more. 37 points and a podium already after seven races. That's more than six points per race.
FP1 - Pérez improves to go third on the medium tyres
0.130s off Verstappen's quickest time. Or rather, it was until Verstappen improved to a :1.06.581.
Gasly going well, too...
FP1 - Alonso circulating on the hard tyre
Does a time quick enough for fourth on them, 0.342s off Verstappen. That seems decent.
Roy Nissany is supposed to be in the Williams for this session in place of George Russell... but the timing screens are showing Russell's "RUS".
FP1 - Hamilton set his lap time on the hard tyre
Sergio Pérez gets a lap on the board and goes fourth on the medium tyre, 0.888s off his team-mate.
FP1 - Top 10 and gaps
FP1 - The rhythm and pace in this year's hour-long practice sessions...
... is very different to the old 90-minute ones. And good. Lap times dropping rapidly now. Hamilton goes quickest before being again beaten.
FP1 - Hamilton goes quickest... beaten then by Verstappen
The Briton first man in the 1:07s. He's two tenths ahead of Leclerc. Verstappen goes 0.355s quicker than his championship rival, though. Pérez uyet to set a time. Mick Schumacher locks up and goes straight on at turn three, but avoids spinning.
FP1 - Early lap times
Norris leads the way of the six drivers who have set a time. He's into the 1:08s already, 0.256s ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
FP1 - Sainz says his throttle got a bit stuck
He doesn't come back into the pits, though and carries on.
Looks like Robert Kubica has spun early at turn three on cold tyres. He gets it going again, though.
FP1 - Sainz the first man out
He is closely followed by Alfa Romeo's Robert Kubica, who is stepping in for driving duties in Kimi Raikkonen's car. Always good to see Robert in an F1 car.
GREEN LIGHT: FP1 IS GO!
Risk of rain for this session 40 per cent, apparently.
First practice is nearly ready to get going
As ever, likely to be a frantic one.
I don't want to get everyone's hopes up for a wet race
But this is the current forecast for the hours around the race on Sunday.
What do we know about the Red Bull Ring?
Circuit length: 4.318km
First grand prix: 1970 (as the Österreichring)
Race distance: 306.452km
Race lap record: 1:05.619, Carlos Sainz – 2019
2020 winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Number of corners: Officially 10 but it's really nine as turn two is a complete non-event
Overtaking chances: Best chances are into the heaviest braking zones on the track, turn one and turn three, both uphill right-handers which have the opportunity for contact if someone misjudges it all.
Mercedes must avoid Valtteri Bottas's discontent coming at Lewis Hamilton's cost
Are we finally seeing Valtteri Bottas 2.0? A sweary man who has had enough and doesn't give a damn who knows? His expletive-laden team radio message at the French Grand Prix was uncharacteristic of the Bottas we have previously seen.
Though he denies his relationship with Mercedes is breaking down, there has been a significant change in how the Finn acts with his team, with instances of very public criticism. I have a look at how this could end up costing Lewis Hamilton here.
BREAKING: Turkey rejoins 2021 calendar... again
Lewis Hamilton fears 140,000 capacity crowd at Silverstone is 'premature'
Lewis Hamilton is worried for the safety of the British public following what he described as a “premature” decision to allow 140,000 fans to attend next month’s grand prix at Silverstone.
Circuit organisers have been permitted to sell out for the entire July 16-18 weekend, paving the way for the biggest UK crowd since the start of the pandemic.
What happened last time out... in France
Driver standings - Top 12
Good morning F1 fans
And welcome to our coverage for the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix from the Red Bull Ring, in Spielberg, Austria. The 2020 Styrian Grand Prix should have been the only edition in existence, but coronavirus still looms large over the sporting calendar. After the Turkish Grand Prix was cancelled, the French Grand Prix moved forward a week and we ended with yet another F1 triple-header and another double-header in Austria.
This, I guess, is no bad thing. The track is short, picturesque and quite unusual. It also happens to produce good racing. The last three races here have been decent in one way or another. Throw in some unpredictable weather into the mix – a fair chance of rain for Sunday, currently – and you have a potent combination. Let's hope the 2021 season continues to deliver in the next 10 or so days.
How is the championship looking? Well, it has been a fairly miserable three rounds for Mercedes. They scored just seven points in Monaco and Baku combined after a litany of various issues, some of them particularly strange (brake magic button and a wheel that wouldn't come off, anyone?). The good news is that they were back challenging for the win at Paul Ricard. The bad news was that they looked off the pace until qualifying and were then outsmarted by Red Bull's aggressive two-stop strategy in the race. They conceded more ground to their rivals in the championships.
So, what of the Red Bull Ring? It is a track where their results have been mixed, but they did win both races in last year's double-header. The previous two before that were won by Max Verstappen, but that was after four years of Mercedes wins. So, six wins out of eight at this track isn't too shabby. It's a short lap, though, which means any performance issue or mistake from the driver in qualifying can be costly. There is a real risk of the midfield threatening the second, if not the front, row here this weekend and next.
How likely is that? We'll have to find out and first and second practice should give us some idea. First practice gets going in just about an hour. We'll be here for that and second practice later in the day, too.