It could be two twin races, Styria and Austria, but for now it’s pointing to something else. The switch to softer tires and the huge drop in temperatures at Spielberg present a different grand prix at the same circuit as last week. Now Mercedes has a couple of tenths of a margin over Red Bull in race pace, also to a turn. Hamilton led Bottas and Verstappen, with two tenths of a margin, in a tense day due to the tightness of the circuit and the constant traffic. The leader of the World Cup, behind.
The pilots did not even agree to conclude when it was raining. “Several drops,” Norris said; “completely dry”, settled Alonso. The Asturian missed morning training to give his Alpine to Chinese development driver Guanyu Zhou, and work piled up in the afternoon session. It did not matter, he was faster than Ocon although he had to improve his time with previously squeezed tires: when he came on a fast lap he met an Alfa Romeo in the last sector that stopped him completely. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. These do not have mirrors. Who was it? “He said over the radio. It was Raikkonen.
The eighth in Fernando’s timesheets is not positive because Aston Martin has made a leap in quality, with Stroll and Vettel leading the middle zone, and the Alpha Tauri are still very comfortable in the energy drink circuit. The Asturian was faster than McLaren, but the Woking cars tend to wake up on Saturdays, like Sergio Pérez (11th). If Alpine goes down several notches even as it starts the weekend in the top-5, the outlook is not encouraging when from the first kilometers of the weekend they are further behind.
Doubts with Ferrari
The track starts were a constant, although there were no red flags. Norris for the grass, Hamilton for the gravel, also Leclerc. The Monegasque had been second in the first training session, followed by Carlos Sainz, but Ferrari’s good restart at the Red Bull Ring was tainted by graining problems with the front tires. The soft lasted ten laps, too little, and the SF21 became “unconducible” as the tires were degraded, in the words of the Madrilenian. Perhaps that is why they have focused since then on solving the management of the wheels, although it is foreseeably going to cost them pure performance.
The second session of Maranello is difficult to analyze, because they rode the soft rubber late and the raindrops were already clouding the timesheets. Neither Leclerc nor Sainz improved their Free 1 laps. In any case, it was good for the drivers to work the fine rain, because the forecast says that Sunday can be a constant in race conditions.