Although Mercedes drivers did not light up the timing screens on Friday, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were happy with their team’s progress in terms of reliability following its gearbox issues at the season-opener.
After winning every session and the race itself at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen stopped Mercedes’ domination in the second practice for the Styrian Grand Prix. FIA indicated that the final results in the afternoon session could serve as the starting order for the race should the weather make it impossible to hold the qualifying session.
While some drivers approached FP2 as a qualifying session, the two Mercedes drivers followed a different programme despite putting in banker laps.
The eight-time race winner has revealed that Mercedes sacrificed Friday’s first practice for working on the reliability woes that hindered it otherwise flawless performance last weekend.
„It was a very useful day of practice. We had quite a few things to try after last weekend. FP1 was mainly looking into whether we had fixed the reliability concerns from last Sunday. The team is still looking into that, but I think we have made some progress,” added Bottas.
„We made some good set-up tweaks and I tried to use the learnings from last weekend, in terms of one-lap pace and driving style over a race distance. We are all getting to know this track pretty well now, but still it’s always good fun to be on track here. I still feel really good in the car, which is good news, but in the end, the next two days are the ones that count.”
Hamilton was less happy with his qualifying simulation but indicated that the car had felt good until the middle point of the second practice session.
„It felt relatively normal out there today, but the pace was quite far off, so we have a lot of work to do this evening to try and figure out why. I was feeling good in FP1 and the start of FP2 felt pretty good too, but then it started to drop off. Others out there looked quick and Valtteri has good pace.
„It seems like the field is bunching up a bit more, but it’s always tough to read into what happened in practice. We’ve got some work to do, to look into the data and find out what’s going on. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be in a better position. It looks set to be wet tomorrow, but it’s fun to be out there in those conditions so hopefully we can still drive in the rain,” Hamilton concluded.