FP1: Perez and his pink Mercedes hits the front

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez in a pink Mercedes with red tyres was the man to beat at the Red Bull Ring on Friday as F1 hit the track for the start of round two.

Formula 1 returned to the Red Bull Ring on Friday morning for the start of the Styrian Grand Prix weekend, round two of the 2020 championship.

Blue skies and a track temperature of 42’C greeted the drivers as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was one of the first out, trialling the Scuderia’s updates for its SF1000.

Those upgrades included a new front wing with Vettel running it at the start of FP1. The wing draws inspiration from the Mercedes design.

Although the teams were lapping the Red Bull Ring just seven days prior, the drivers were quickly into the running on Friday morning as forecasts suggest Saturday could be a washout.

Two of those drivers were test drivers with Robert Kubica replacing Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo while Jack Aitken drove George Russell’s Williams.

Alexander Albon opened the timing with a 1:06.344 before his team-mate Max Verstappen shaved a quarter of a second off his time before upping his pace to a 1:05.867. Both drivers were running the medium Pirellis.

Red Bull held the 1-2 at the 30 minute mark as Nicholas Latifi forced the field to slow down when his Williams ground to a halt out on track.

“I think the engine just went or something happened,” was his technical assessment.

The session was red flagged minutes later as the marshals struggled to get Latifi’s car through a gap in the fence and instead had to call for a truck to remove the car.

The session resumed some four minutes later with the drivers heading out immediately and Verstappen going quicker still, a 1:05.856.

Sergio Perez moved up to second place on the hard tyres, 0.332s down on Verstappen, with Carlos Sainz up to fourth.

Last Sunday’s winner, Valtteri Bottas, was P6 after his first hot lap with Lewis Hamilton 12th. Charles Leclerc was ninth and Sebastian Vettel P13.

Kevin Magnussen was the only driver not have a time to his name halfway through the session, stuck in the pits with a battery related problem.

Back at the front Leclerc put on a set of the soft tyres and moved up to second place, 0.078s slower than Verstappen. Leclerc was running Ferrari’s new floor with Vettel’s car in the pits for a floor change.

Red Bull’s time at the front ended when Hamilton upped his pace, clocking a 1:05.208, a time matched by Lance Stroll in the pink Mercedes moments later.

Stroll, though, was running the soft tyres… and had his time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 10.

Perez was the next Racing Point driver to put in a hot lap and he hit the front with a 1:04.867 on the soft tyres. He didn’t exceed the track limits.

Bottas, out on the medium tyres, leapfrogged Hamilton for second place but lost out to Verstappen.

Putting the soft tyres on his RB16, Verstappen went second quickest, 0.096s off the pace, dropping Bottas to third and Hamilton to fourth.

Stroll, who kept his second lap time on the soft tyres, was fifth ahead of Albon and Sainz.

Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Vettel completed the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat had a late spin in an otherwise rather incident-free session.

Aitken was P17 for Williams with Kubica 18th while Magnussen did not set a time at all, putting in just three laps in the session.

1 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:04.867 31 laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.096s 30 laps
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.222s 30 laps
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.253s 28 laps
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point 0.529s 35 laps
6 Alex Albon Red Bull 0.616s 27 laps
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.735s 39 laps
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.831s 26 laps
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 0.902s 30 laps
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.903s 24 laps
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 0.948s 27 laps
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.970s 27 laps
13 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.007s 34 laps
14 Lando Norris McLaren 1.041s 24 laps
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.574s 22 laps
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.579s 30 laps
17 Jack Aitken Williams 1.901s 34 laps
18 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing 1.930s 30 laps
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 4.731s 6 laps
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3 laps

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