The Red Bull Ring produces the shortest lap time on the Formula 1 calendar. So while Mercedes led the way on Friday, the margins were very fine, and the slightest error by their drivers in qualifying tomorrow will open the door for the Scuderia Ferrari or even Red Bull drivers to take advantage.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were first and second in both sessions, as they probably would have been last week at Paul Ricard had Bottas not suffered a water leak on his car. But Sebastian Vettel was just two tenths of a second behind them in the Ferrari, and tends to show less of his true pace on Fridays than the Mercedes drivers do.
In the second practice session the ultra-soft tyre was graining and some drivers, including Hamilton, were unable to improve their lap time on it. It therefore seems likely that we will once again see some of the quicker drivers opt to complete Q2 on a harder tyre in order to start on it.
“If you have some graining on the ultra it is clear that this is affecting the performance.” – Pirelli’s sporting director Mario Isola explianed, at the end of the second free practice session – “So I’m not surprised if tomorrow in quali we see somebody in the top teams trying to qualify for example in the super-soft, targeting a one-stop race with the super-soft and soft.”
Mario Isola added that if the conditions remain dry overnight the track could continue to increase in grip and graining may no longer be a factor. A few hours later, the heavens opened. The early indication therefore is that, contrary to Pirelli’s goal for the season, a one-stop strategy will again be the way to go.
“Considering that the most representative test was this afternoon in FP2 with full tank and so on I believe some of them are targeting a one-stop race using the super and the soft.” The window for the pit stop will be quite open. Having low degradation you can decide when you want to change if you start on super-soft you can decide when you want to change to soft.” – Mario Isola concluded.