Austria GP Verstappen Tops with Reliability Concerns

FP1 : McLaren, Mercedes Lurk as Verstappen Leads in Austria


Verstappen dominates Austria’s practice despite reliability issues, while McLaren, Mercedes, and Ferrari prepare to pounce.

The Austrian Grand Prix kicked off with Free Practice, the only non-competitive session of the weekend due to the Sprint format. F1 drivers used these 60 minutes to prepare for both the qualifying and the race, before the Sprint Shootout scheduled for 4:30 PM this Friday.

In terms of developments, Mercedes F1 introduced a new beam wing with less downforce, while Ferrari changed the gills on its sidepods for enhanced cooling. McLaren brought a new front wing and front suspension. RB F1 has new rear brake ducts, and Stake F1 also introduced a beam wing with less downforce.

From the start of the session, Lando Norris mentioned a strange steering: “It’s like in Miami, it’s harder to turn right but easier to turn left.” The Briton had eventually triumphed in Florida, a promising sign at the very start of the weekend.

George Russell posted the provisional best time of 1’07″392 on hard tyres, with Lewis Hamilton just 0.029 seconds behind his teammate. Norris clocked a time a tenth off Russell, and five thousandths ahead of Max Verstappen, who was on medium tyres.

Yuki Tsunoda missed the first corner on his first fast lap, running wide, and complained of “strange” steering he disliked. Hamilton improved to 1’06″925. Verstappen did better with 1’06″645 on mediums, before being immediately overtaken by Russell and his hard tyres at 1’06″386.

Nico Hülkenberg was pushed off the track by Charles Leclerc, whom he had just hindered, although it was unclear if the Monegasque’s slightly wide move was intentional. The Haas driver, meanwhile, complained about the “babies” moaning about track traffic!

Hamilton initially came within a few thousandths of his teammate, before setting the best time at 1’06″254. The Ferrari and McLaren drivers subsequently improved their times, moving into the top 10.

Shortly after mid-session, the Red Bull car number 1 stopped on the straight, Verstappen reporting an engine issue! A red flag was waved, and when the session resumed, Verstappen was back on track. It was likely a software glitch that triggered a safety mechanism.

Nothing serious for the RB20 of the world champion, but Red Bull needs to understand the cause of this unexpected stop. If such a problem recurs during the race, it would likely be impossible for the team to fix it remotely, potentially leading to the driver’s retirement.

Tsunoda had a scare when Alex Albon pulled in front of him while on a fast lap. Fortunately, the Williams driver quickly aborted his move. The Japanese driver, meanwhile, still complained of steering issues and requested a steering column change, which the team couldn’t perform during the session.

The soft tyre runs began about ten minutes before the end of the session, with Lance Stroll placing second and Tsunoda fourth. Leclerc set the fastest time at 1’06″055, beaten by Verstappen at 1’05″685. Sainz was third and Esteban Ocon fifth.

Norris was faster but ran wide at turn 4, cancelling his fast lap after a long stint in the gravel. Hamilton did not switch to soft tyres, staying on hard compounds until the end of the session. Russell did the same.

Oscar Piastri placed his McLaren second, and Sainz moved up to fourth. But with the Mercedes and Norris on hard tyres and Pérez on medium compounds, it is difficult to establish a concrete hierarchy.

Verstappen thus set the best time of the session ahead of Piastri and the Ferraris. Hamilton was fifth ahead of Ocon and Stroll, then Russell, but the Mercedes seemed fast with relatively slow tyres. Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10.

2024 F1 Austrian Grand Prix – Friday Practice Results

01Max VerstappenRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:05.68528
02Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:05.96132
03Charles LeclercFerrari SF-241:06.05531
04Carlos SainzFerrari SF-241:06.12831
05Lewis HamiltonMercedes W151:06.25439
06Esteban OconAlpine Renault A5241:06.29730
07Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:06.38427
08George RussellMercedes W151:06.38632
09Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:06.57930
10Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Mercedes AMR241:06.60330
11Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault A5241:06.73428
12Sergio PérezRed Bull Honda RBPT RB201:06.78324
13Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes MCL381:06.88030
14Guanyu ZhouStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:06.91928
15Valtteri BottasStake F1 Kick Sauber C441:06.92529
16Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT VCARB 011:06.96231
17Nico HülkenbergHaas Ferrari VF-241:06.96631
18Alex AlbonWilliams Mercedes FW461:06.99528
19Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari VF-241:07.14531
20Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes FW461:07.25929
Austria GP: Verstappen Tops with Reliability Concerns

Austria GP: Verstappen Tops with Reliability Concerns Austria GP: Verstappen Tops with Reliability Concerns

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