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Styrian Grand Prix 2021

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

Max Verstappen topped both Friday practice sessions at the Styrian Grand Prix 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 Friday's running in Spielberg.

Verstappen Austria 2021
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Max Verstappen was the driver to beat on Friday at the Styrian GP as he set the pace in both practice sessions. Red Bull are on home turf this weekend and are looking for a remarkable fourth consecutive win.

Verstappen has had the perfect start, but things might be tighter than you think. Here's a look at the stories from Friday in Austria.

Verstappen quickest...or is he?

On paper, Verstappen had a dominant day in Spielberg. But it was actually Lewis Hamilton who set the quickest time on Friday with a a 1:03.355, which was 0.057 seconds quicker than Verstappen.

However, Hamilton's lap time was deleted as he ran wide at Turn 10 which is being monitored for track limits.

The 0.384 deficit that you can see on the timesheets therefore don't tell the entire story so as Verstappen said himself, expect a tight qualifying when both teams inevitably turn up their power units on Saturday afternoon.

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Ricciardo's schnitzel tactic pays off

Daniel Ricciardo admitted that he helped himself to some schnitzels on Thursday which powered him to a brilliant second place in the second practice session.

Ricciardo was visibly more comfortable in the car at Paul Ricard and has built on that form at the start of the Styrian GP. It's by far his best practice performance and it comes at a great time too as F1 will be present at the Red Bull Ring for the next 10 days.

Bottas already set for a difficult race

Valtteri Bottas spun in the pit lane during FP2 as he tried to leave his pit box using second gear. It had massive repercussions as his incident was deemed as "dangerous driving" by the stewards and he received a three-grid place penalty.

Considering Bottas' inability to make his way through the field at Imola and Baku this year, the Mercedes driver is set for a tough race.

On a track where Bottas has fared well as in the past, it will really hurt and it gives Red Bull an advantage as they could have two cars at the sharp end of the field whilst Hamilton is fighting on his own.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

Are Alpine the real deal?

Alpine had both drivers in the top five in the afternoon with Esteban Ocon in third and Fernando Alonso in fifth. It was a great day for the team but Alpine have showed strong pace on Fridays before, only to fall back as their rivals find pace overnight.

A key difference this time could be the location. Alpine's Renault power unit has been excellent in the past at high altitude, powering Red Bull to wins in Mexico and the Austria - the two highest altitude races of the year.

If both Ocon and Alonso can reach Q3, that will be a great result but don't be surprised to see the Alpine pair further up the order if they get things right.

			© Aston Martin
	© Aston Martin

Aston Martin are right up there too

Aston Martin joined the party on Friday which is unusual because they usually have a slow start to the weekend. It certainly bodes well for Sebastian Vettel who ended the day in sixth with Lance Stroll in eighth.

With such a mixed up pecking order, there are big points up for grabs for the midfield teams so Aston Martin have a massive chance to do something spectacular in Austria.

Honda reliability troubles?

Pierre Gasly missed the entire second practice session because of a problem on his Honda power unit which the Japanese engine manufacturer did not want to risk. All four Honda-powered cars looked brilliant in the morning with Gasly in second place in FP1.

But, it's not the first time Honda have had some small issues this year and data suggests that they were forced to turn the power down on all their cars after the season-opening Bahrain GP up until last weekend's race in Paul Ricard.

The margins are so tight at the front and in the midfield so the inability to not run your engine at full pelt will hurt, especially at the Red Bull Ring which is a power hungry circuit.

Have Ferrari taken a step back?

The Ferrari looked like a handful in the hands of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Both drivers were unable to make the top nine in either of the practice sessions and Sainz in particular had some off-track excursions including a spin at the exit of Turn 1 and another pirouette at Turn 4.

Ferrari should find a solution and they may have been testing out various parts on the car or a new setup to try and overcome their tyre wear problems which caused big headaches last time out in France.

The next two days are a major test that could dictate the way Leclerc's and Sainz's season goes.

F1 2021 Styrian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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