Friday’s running in Austria belonged to Lewis Hamilton as he claimed the double with a new lap record.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far. We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2, but the guys did a great job to turn the car around and we still managed to complete our programme. Most importantly, the car feels fantastically fast here. There’s already a nice balance and it feels good out on track. This car is so quick in comparison to what we raced here last year. It’s tricky, but a proper thrill to hook up a lap. The team is in good spirits and we’re all up for another exciting fight with the Ferraris this weekend.”
Valtteri Bottas: “A solid start to the weekend. There’s a good feeling inside the team and the car is clearly quick here. It was great to see that the upgrades the team worked so hard to deliver for this weekend worked straight out of the box. Aerodynamically we’ve made another step forward from Baku, which is encouraging. This track punishes you if you make a mistake, and I tested those limits, but that’s something I can learn from and build upon for the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car feels good and we’ll fine tune the setup some more tonight to be ready for qualifying. Ferrari are looking strong here too, so we’re expecting another interesting weekend ahead.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today we did a lot of laps and learnt a lot about the car. We had a good feel with it and that is what we need. So, we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. We understood the problems we had in Baku, but here it’s completely different. The weather and the asphalt temperature are not the same as they were there. Today it is still difficult to judge, but the car is very good and we made some improvements. We proceed step by step; tomorrow we’ll have another free practice session and then we’ll see.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a very normal day, trying different solutions and seeing how they went. We struggled a bit with some things, but we know what is going on and we should be able to fix it. It was one of those Fridays, not great and not bad either. Obviously it could have been a bit better and straightforward, but it’s only the first day of practice. I don’t think it will be very difficult with tires as long as we do the normal things; it’s a very similar story as any other race. Now we have to go through everything and improve for tomorrow.”
Max Verstappen: “All in all, I think it was a positive day. We had a small issue with a brake connection at the start of FP2 meaning we had to take the floor off the car which lost us some time but we pretty much completed our programme so we can be happy with that. This is not the highest grip track and with the higher speeds this year, if you have a moment, it is difficult to correct without hitting a kerb or going through the gravel which a lot of people have experienced today. The yellow kerbs were definitely a challenge and I think maybe they are not the type of kerbs for Formula 1, the cars just aren’t designed for it. We still have some work to do tonight as I’m not fully happy with the balance we had today but we are also not too far off. We always know that in qualifying Mercedes will turn up their engines and of course the weather here can change very quickly, so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It was another good Friday today and we seemed to be relatively competitive. I didn’t really get to do a proper long run at the end because we had a couple of issues but otherwise it was a smooth day. The surface of the circuit has a lot of grip this year and with the new cars you really feel it. Especially the high speed corners of the second sector are pretty fast and fun. As soon as you lose that grip though you lose everything so a lot of guys were going off track. I guess everyone is trying to find their limit and then you feel the grip so you want to push more and more but then sometimes it breaks away from you. The top five cars were within four-tenths so hopefully that remains for tomorrow and then it’ll be quite an exciting show for the weekend. I’m sure Mercedes will probably turn it up for qualifying but I hope we can stay in that fight.”