Everyone expected the rain flying for the second free practice session of the Styria, but the weather granted a session entirely dry, which allowed the teams to complete the work schedule and to play also particularly long long runs, seeing as all the work plan had been anticipated just waiting for the rain.
Verstappen first, but Hamilton with the best time
It still emerges from the ranking Max Verstappen in front of all but the absolute best time session actually gets it Lewis Hamilton, with his ride deleted for having gone beyond the limits of the track at the last corner. For performance purposes i track limits (especially if at the last corner) they have no influence, which is why we compared the canceled lap at Hamilton with the one that won first place at Verstappen.
Unlike the morning session the speed in draw this time they are generally similar. Let’s see though to decrease Verstappen’s top speed compared to the first free practices, while staying about stationary that of Hamilton (311 km / h). The first doubt that arises is therefore whether at home Honda several horses have been kept at rest, seen above all Gasly’s inconvenience which may have led to a session very cautious in terms of power. As already pointed out, on this track Hamilton tends to work hard much to find the performance in the first 3 curves (1, 3 and 4) and even in the past years we have always seen a crescendo in the speed of the seven-time world champion during the weekend, who starts regularly with an initial approach that is a bit difficult in those sections. Verstappen for his part in the first two sectors it’s clean and smooth and the performance between the two cars turns out practically equivalent, with 33 thousandths of advantage for the Dutch in the first sector e 27 for the British in the second. You notice one always slightly anticipated braking Verstappen in the first three sharp braking sections, sometimes accompanied by a downshift of a few cents longer. This suggests that the world leader you are still keeping a few generous tenths in your pocket too from the driving point of view. The third sector he sees one instead prevalence of Hamilton more marked. It is clear how the reigning world champion manages to turn 6 and 7 first, and 9 and 10 then, ad take your foot off the accelerator less and to use the brake less at all, with Verstappen even forced to touch the brake pedal at turn 7, unlike Hamilton who manages it entirely with the gas pedal. The Dutchman is even forced to get off in fifth gear in that stretch. The perception however, seeing the speed of travel also in the other sections of the track is that it is not there any kind of difficulty particular for the RB16B number 33, if not that of do not push still in depth in the guided sections.
On the other hand, we also looked at the data of the other motorized Mercedes, and for example the McLaren (which we will see shortly) showed important speeds on the straight, much taller than Mercedes officers, thus giving the impression that the two teams in battle are actually still both very conservative on the Power Unit front and that we will see the limit only in qualifying.
Ferrari on a particular day
Difficult the interpretation of the day of the team Maranello. Far behind on the flying lap, out of the top 10, but with long long runs and with a discreet step compared to the rest of the group. Unlike usual, the SF21 appears to lack single lap performance, which may also mean one trim choice of the car aimed at looking the correct working point overall from the point of view of downforce, giving up “hiding” the lack of a few horses in the first part of the track. On a track where overtake it is not complicated and in a year where we have said several times that the tire management sometimes more important than the power of the propulsion unit, the choice might be correct. We compared Carlos’ lap Sainz (11th) with that of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo (second).
It is immediately evident that McLaren is much faster in the stretch. Ricciardo’s maximum speed is 317 km / h against the suns 309 of Sainz and in the three main extensions the differences are always of at least 5 km / h. It is also noted how the scissor always opens around the 250 km / h, sign of a SF21 with more resistance and obviously less power at the top. Recall that the speed at high revs it is also heavily dependent on the management of the hybrid part of Power Units and we know that Ferrari often chooses to anticipate the disbursement of the hybrid to bridge the gap in traction, where the release is more effective in terms of lap time and yield of the electric motor. Sainz is anyway very fast at turn 3, confirming the skills in the strait of the Maranello car, while the last sector is particular: the Spaniard of Ferrari adopts it from turn 7 a driving style that we have sometimes seen also used in Leclerc, with the curve travel which is managed through the gas partialization together with the use of the brake, also at the same time, to maximize the reactivity of the car and the driver’s control. This is very evident curve 9, where Sainz also finds a good speed reading compared to Ricciardo (+4) without even downshifting, so trying to optimize the travel phase keeping “at bay” the rear of the car. This would also square with a slightly trim more oversteer than usual, in an attempt to protect the front tires during the race. It should be noted, however, that compared to Ricciardo precisely second, the the difference is all in the first sector, that of engine, with over 3 tenths earned in that stretch by the Australian, and only 56 thousandths in the second and even only 18 in the last stretch, the one driven. Considering the engine gap that we see between McLaren and Mercedes it seems likely that today we have chosen to release in Woking a few more horses for the second free practice session.
It is therefore difficult to find the scale of values in the field, and looking at the data, the first impression is that the very first of the class were well below their potential. Self Honda should give the green light to the full exploitation of the Power Unit, RedBull generally seems to have the potential to lengthen the pace on Mercedes in the first two sectors and equal it in the third, thus finding a performance advantage, which however is theoretical only and goes demonstrated on the track. Behind them it is difficult to make predictions. McLaren seems a viable candidate for the third force, but the race pace he was not excelled. Alpine showed an excellent qualifying performance with Or with and a very good race pace with Alonso, but it is difficult to understand if they will manage to make ends meet, given that in the last few races they have struggled a bit to get the most out of it. Ferrari it’s still totally an unknown factor, remembering that the rain or the drop in temperatures the next few days could considerably change the balance on the track.