Austrian GP FP1 Report: Verstappen Tops F1 Session as Mazepin Annoys Hamilton & Raikkonen

Published 07/02/2021, 6:31 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during practice REUTERS/Lisi Niesner


The Austrian Grand Prix welcomed the F1 drivers to a rather gloomy FP1 session, as Max Verstappen yet again started his weekend at the Red Bull Ring off on a flier.

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Behind the Dutchman were the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz closing out the top 3. Meanwhile, Mercedes drivers failed to impress yet again, as Valtteri Bottas had to settle for P4, with Lewis Hamilton further behind in P7.

And Nikita Mazepin endured quite a tough FP1 session, as the Russian ended up impeding the 7-time world champion and also Kimi Raikkonen. While Hamilton didn’t react much, the Finn did flip the bird at the Haas driver.

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Early struggles for the F1 drivers

Most of the drivers joined the track on soft tires and eventually switched to Pirelli’s prototype tires that are set to take over from the British Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly initially topped the list with a 1:06:054 on medium tires but was soon pushed down by the championship leader on the prototype tires. The new ones did look pacier than expected, with several drivers clocking impressive lap times on them.

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

But the biggest talking point over the initial 15 minutes of the session were the dramatic spins and struggles to bring the tires up to temperature. Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll suffered high-speed spins. But both managed to keep the cars away from the barriers.

Meanwhile, drivers like Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, and Daniel Ricciardo suffered flat spots after locking up their wheels around the tricky turn 1 and turn 3.

The Monegasque in specific struggled to keep his car on the track going into the first turn. He further complained to his team about the lack of grip going into that turn. Hamilton, meanwhile, found himself exceeding the track limits several times, especially around turn 9.

F2 drivers join the F1 session

Three drivers from Formula 2 took part in the first practice session on Friday. Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou, replaced his idol, Fernando Alonso at Alpine Renault. Similarly, at Williams, it was Roy Nissany in place of George Russell.

And the final driver swap took place in the Alfa Romeo garage. Ferrari’s test driver, Callum Ilott, replaced Antonio Giovinazzi for the 60-minute session at the Red Bull Ring.

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 Williams’ Nicholas Latifi during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Zhou turned out to be the best of the three, as he secured P15, ahead of Ilott, who grabbed on to P16, with Nissany right behind him in P18.

How the top 10 looked like

Verstappen topped the timesheets with a 1:05:143, followed by Leclerc, who ended up being over 0.2s slower than the Dutchman. The other Ferrari driver, Sainz, secured P3, with Bottas holding on to P4 on the prototype tires.

Tsunoda secured a decent P5, and Raikkonen clocking an impressive lap to push himself up to P6. Hamilton and Perez had an average session to secure P7 and P8, respectively.

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Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Meanwhile, Gasly, who was mostly lurking amongst the top 5 in the session, ultimately ended up in P9, with Norris rounding off the top 10.

Overall, it was a rather tricky morning at the Red Bull Ring, with most of the drivers struggling to handle the tire temperatures. Hence, following a session of spins and tire lock-ups, how are the drivers going to improvise over the upcoming FP2 session?

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Rohit Kumar

941 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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