Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two ahead of Verstappen in second practice

2021 Austrian Grand Prix third practice

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Friday morning pace-setter Max Verstappen fell to third place behind the Mercedes drivers in the afternoon session at the Red Bull Ring.

Mercedes’ drivers snuck in their performance runs before light rain arrived at the Red Bull Ring to set the pace in second practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

As in first practice, Verstappen didn’t take long to put his Red Bull at the top of the time sheets on the medium tyre, and looked comfortable in that position until the start of the qualifying simulations in the middle of the session.

That window of time, when the track only had a handful of cars and the rain had not picked up in the Styrian Alps, was used by Mercedes to send out Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on the soft tyres, and seemingly a higher power mode, to go one-two.

Hamilton was the faster of the pair by 0.189 seconds, with Verstappen a further 0.028s back in third place. The world championship leader only clocked up three laps on the softs before returning to the mediums and focusing on long-run pace on the low-grip surface as rain started to fall.

Verstappen ran for 25 laps in his final stint, while team mate Sergio Perez extended his own final run on mediums to 30 laps after originally planning to go for 21 timed laps.

Guanyu Zhou, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix practice in pictures
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth. The pair set their personal bests just before the rain picked up, and were four tenths slower than Verstappen in third.

The AlphaTauri drivers were split by just 0.023s in sixth and seventh, and both did long runs lasting over 20 laps on the softs as well as the medium. Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10.

Alpine driver Alonso had several problems at the penultimate corner where he encountered drivers going excessively slowly, while Norris had a spin exiting turn one at the end of the session on Pirelli’s prototype C4 tyres but admitted it was a driver error.

Perez put the second Red Bull car in 11th place, over three quarters of a second slower than his team mate, ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz Jnr who was the top Ferrari driver in 13th.

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix third practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’04.52331
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’04.7120.18934
333Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’04.7400.21735
418Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’05.1390.61633
55Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’05.2680.74537
622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’05.3560.83337
710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’05.3790.85638
814Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’05.3930.87034
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’05.4660.94334
1099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’05.5110.98832
1111Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’05.5160.99339
1231Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’05.5271.00435
1355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’05.6201.09737
147Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’05.6241.10133
153Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’05.6981.17532
1616Charles LeclercFerrari1’05.7081.18533
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’05.8191.29636
1847Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’05.9111.38835
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’06.0141.49138
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’06.1731.65035

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’04.523

+0.189 Valtteri Bottas – 1’04.712

+0.217 Max Verstappen – 1’04.740

+0.616 Lance Stroll – 1’05.139

+0.745 Sebastian Vettel – 1’05.268

+0.833 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’05.356

+0.856 Pierre Gasly – 1’05.379

+0.870 Fernando Alonso – 1’05.393

+0.943 Lando Norris – 1’05.466

+0.988 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’05.511

+0.993 Sergio Perez – 1’05.516

+1.004 Esteban Ocon – 1’05.527

+1.097 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’05.620

+1.101 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’05.624

+1.175 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’05.698

+1.185 Charles Leclerc – 1’05.708

+1.296 George Russell – 1’05.819

+1.388 Mick Schumacher – 1’05.911

+1.491 Nicholas Latifi – 1’06.014

+1.650 Nikita Mazepin – 1’06.173

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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32 comments on “Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two ahead of Verstappen in second practice”

  1. Based on those times, it looks like trying to do Q2 on Mediums could be really difficult.

    1. Yeah, quite a big gap right @krichelle, esp. that ~0,8s diff from Bottas makes it seem a stretch. Almost certain Perez will not (did he even do a soft run?), but maybe BOT,HAM,VER might go for it initially.

    2. @krichelle @bosyber I assume everyone will qualify on the medium in Q2 (which nullifies the impact) anyway, like in France.

      1. @jerejj Not if that means that you get knocked out of Q2 I guess

        1. @matthijs Everyone who reached Q3 only used medium in France for both Q2 runs, so similar situation if all 15 drivers attempt the same this weekend, or only a largely guaranteed failer uses the soft.

  2. Interesting session. Mercedes seem a bit better than they were but they’ve run well in cooler conditions all season so it’s not a huge surprise. The forecast is a bit warmer tomorrow and then cooler again on Sunday.

    1. Might mean Verstappen pole, then more competitive Merc in the race, which sounds like something to enjoy @petebaldwin!

      1. @bosyber – Yeah, hopefully more of a battle than last week!

      2. More competitive but only able to stick behind Verstappen. How many occasion we’ve seen Hamilton sticking behind rival closely without able to do overtake due to straightline speed deficit, year 2019 to Ferrari and year 2021 to Red Bull. This proves that modern f1 overtake is so impossible if you’re not 10km/h faster in raw Top Speed without DRS…

        1. @papaya

          This is Trulli a great point. Modern F1 makes passing so difficult.

        2. Well, Ferrari had a little bit of extra sauce on their engine in 2019, so that’s not a great yard stick. And right now it looks like RBR’s advantage is that high rake is working so much better under the new rules that they can run a lot less wing than Mercedes. That and some reliability upgrades have allowed them to turn the engine up.

          The Trulli Trains do appear now but I would say that is sort of caused by DRS. When you have a group of cars the DRS/tow effect is accumulated going backwards, so the car at the end of the line finds it impossible to pass the one ahead.

  3. Did i noticed a completely new diffuser at the mercedes..?
    It certainly looked like one.. covered in flowfiz.

    1. @erikje Yes, I also noticed.

    2. My guess is that they’re trying to do the higher rake since the flow-viz was on the bargeboards / floor and diffuser. Seems to be working too, but I guess most of the time is from the softer tyre.

      1. From Scarbs I think a high rake shift would be a lot more involved than jacking up the rear ride height. It has to do with the way the floor interacts with the rear tire aero “squirt” and the diffuser, which is all very carefully integrated. But maybe they have found a way to ameliorate the deficit with the cut out floor.

        1. @dmw Yes you may be right but if they are anyway not getting their old ground effect working as their ‘barn door’ rear wing suggests, I guess it was worth a check to rake up the car now that they are desperately trying ‘wacky’ setups and whatnot.

          Also, Hamilton admits another ‘wacky’ direction from this week’s sim work did not work at all and the were forced to revert to the old ways, which I all took to mean together with the flow-viz on the diffuser that they had tried the high rake like I said.

  4. Merc imho at least an equal car to RB.

    As long as Perez is far from beating the shaky Bottas in qualis and races this year, the hypothesis that the RB is the dominant car is false imho.

    1. Imho I completely disagree. I don’t know how you can call Bottas shaky in qualifying?! Race pace yes, but he’s always had solid one lap pace. Perez on the other hand…

      1. Is Bottas really good in quali, or is Lewis just ‘OK’? Rosberg also outqualified Lewis quite regularly.
        While a matured Max (once he left his teenage years behind end of 2017) put all his teammates to bed by 0.3s+ (Daniel, Pierre and Albon). Same margins as he puts Perez to bed.

        1. Hamilton still outqualified rosberg more often as far as I remember, and if you look at the strike rate for poles, I think senna > hamilton > schumacher in qualifying, there are ofc other impressive drivers, but these are far more recent than them. I never thought quali was schumacher’s speciality, in any case bottas certainly proved ok in quali from what I saw, he’s just often terrible in race pace, perez is the opposite, so it’s hard to say which car is faster when comparing those 2, IF we assume hamilton and verstappen are equal, then bottas performed better last weekend than perez, just by being fairly similar in race pace and doing better in quali.

        2. Also ricciardo isn’t of the same calibre as the top current drivers and albon and gasly shouldn’t even be in this discussion, they didn’t deserve the red bull or any top car really.

        3. @trib4udi Bottas always seems to go very well at the Red Bull Ring – he did win the first race of last season there.

    2. @trib4udi Maybe, but Verstappen’s fastest lap was not perfect. He had more time to come, but then it started raining.

  5. If that’s the way you wish to measure it and it makes you feel better then yes.

  6. Wouldn’t read too much into headline laptimes. Merc/Lewis/Bottas still have pace to find.

    1. We’ll see after this weekend but I still think the cars are very evenly matched

  7. Maybe just me, but I’m really struggling to get into this race. I’m finding it hard to care that much about another read-repeat weekend. Last year it was kind of a novelty and obviously in Bahrain a different circuit layout (which was great). But now it just feels dull and simulator-ish.

    1. Not surprising. As someone else put it. 26 GPs with 4 of them at the same short track.

    2. I said this last year too. It really takes away from a Grand Prix, as will the advertising r-, I mean “sprint” races.

    3. @frood19 I agree. Doesn’t even help that the field looks to have closed up with the added practice and softer tyres. Just a lame repeat.

    4. @frood19 I don’t think you are alone, Jolyon Palmer made this exact point on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast. I’m feeling it as well, last year at least the weather made things interesting and we’ve been spoilt by the first seven races of this season.

      We can hope that with cooler conditions it allows Mercedes to find some pace to close the gap, but the upgrades Red Bull have brought to the car over the last few races have turned it into a beast and it could be a rinse-repeat weekend, especially given that the Red Bull ring has always been a hit and miss circuit for Mercedes.

  8. Love how these guys can build these amazing machines, but can’t get a face mask to fit…

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