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Austrian Grand Prix 2021

What we learned from Friday practice for the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton ended Friday's running at the Austrian Grand Prix on top during a fascinating day at the Red Bull Ring. It wasn't the only standout moment as RacingNews365.com gives you the details of what we can take away from the event so far.

Analysis
To news overview © Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton responded to Max Verstappen's Austrian dominance by leading a Mercedes 1-2 in the Austrian Grand Prix second practice.

It was a small surprise considering how strong Verstappen and Red Bull were last week and how impressive they were in the morning. Here's a look at the stories from Friday in Spielberg.

Mercedes are more competitive

Mercedes will know that it's only practice, but they will be happy that they were particularly strong on the C5 soft tyre.

Verstappen set the pace on the medium compound but both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came alive on the softs which bodes well for qualifying.

Cooler temperatures hampered Hamilton at Monaco when the C5 tyre was used there, but it seems to have had the opposite effect at the Austrian GP so far.

However, the conditions will be significantly warmer on Saturday so Mercedes will be hoping that everything they learned on Friday will go down the drain with the possibility of a reset for FP3.

Nevertheless, the pace is definitely in the W12 this weekend and they can be more of a threat to Red Bull.

Perez's practice struggles continue

Sergio Perez has had some substantial difficulties during practice this year, but the Austrian GP might prove to be his toughest challenge yet.

The Mexican was 0.776 seconds behind Verstappen in FP2 and was 0.683 seconds off the pace to his Red Bull teammate in FP1.

On a track where the lap time is just over a minute, that's a huge amount of time to find. Qualifying will be a close affair so Perez could find himself near the backend of the top 10 if he can't figure out how to work his tyres or find a setup that suits his style.

He's managed to turn things around before, and will be hoping he has not left himself with too much time to find overnight.

Aston Martin's impressive day

Lance Stroll's Friday began with some high-speed spins in the morning but it finished with the Canadian driver in fourth place in FP2. Aston Martin's one lap pace was spectacular as Vettel joined Stroll near the top of the timesheets in fifth.

Their long run pace was not as impressive but if they can start at the front of the midfield, they will give themselves every chance to score big.

Aston Martin badly need a strong points haul too as they are just sixth in the Constructors' Standings, behind AlphaTauri who also had a great day.

Question marks at Ferrari

Ferrari's pace on paper is concerning as Carlos Sainz was just 13th in FP2 whilst Charles Leclerc did not fare any better in 16th.

However, neither of the Ferrari pair set their quickest time on the soft tyres so there should be time to come. Also, their long run pace was excellent in similar fashion to the Styrian GP.

The one worry will be the balance of the car as both Leclerc and Sainz had some off-track excursions, suggesting they are not happy with the handling of the SF21 in qualifying trim.

Perhaps the warmer temperatures will help Ferrari too so don't be surprised to see Leclerc and Sainz leaping up the order on Saturday or Sunday.

Good signs with Pirelli's new tyre

All the drivers did at least 12 laps on Pirelli's new, more robust rear tyres which is likely be introduced from the British GP in July 16-18.

So far, everything seems to have gone well and Mario Isola confirmed that the new rear tyres feel the same as the old rubber which is what the drivers and teams wanted.

"We are gathering all the information we need on this new rear tyre, which features a more robust construction, and we’ll analyse the data with a view to using it from Silverstone onwards," Isola told the press.

"The feedback we’ve had from the drivers so far is generally positive and indicates that it feels quite similar to the existing tyre that was exactly our target: keep the same level of performance with an increase of the robustness."

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

The latest news about the Austrian Grand Prix straight from the Red Bull Ring.

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