Sainz tops FP2 as teams focus on race pace

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz has ended Free Practice 2 fastest at the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari occupied the top two spots in a session that was focused on long run pace ahead of the afternoon’s Sprint encounter and Sunday’s race.

Max Verstappen was third best for Red Bull, while Alpine was fourth and fifth, Fernando Alonso ahead of Esteban Ocon.

Mercedes headed into the session with neither car ready owing to the crashes they had during qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Lewis Hamilton had been swapped to a new chassis, while both he and George Russell had taken gearbox changes – though as the replacement unit was from within their respective pool, there is no penalty.

A raft of other parts were also replaced, including the floor and wings, though the power units in both cars were undamaged.

However, it meant they faced a delay in entering the session as mechanics completed the work required.

With the weekend’s single lap running have all been completed, the focus for teams was on race pace.

Despite that, all three compounds of tyre were in use, including the softs for both McLarens.

Ferrari opted for the mediums, with Sainz the early pace setting with a 1:09.515s.

By contrast, Red Bull was out on the soft tyres, Verstappen improving on that to log a 1:09.067s.

Only Aston Martin fitted the hard tyres, though neither Sebastian Vettel nor Lance Stroll recorded a lap time as they completed a series of installation laps.

At the 10-minute mark, Russell emerged from the garage on a steady installation lap, cycling back to the pits to afford the team an opportunity to double check its handiwork.

Across the garage, work continued on Hamilton’s car, his F1 W13 still without a floor.

Also keeping its powder dry was the Alpine pair, with neither Alonso nor Ocon having ventured out.

Track conditions had cooled slightly from what was experienced on Friday, while the wind had swung around 180 degrees to be a headwind into Turn 4.

Back out on track, Russell reported issues with his ‘overtake’ button, suggesting it wasn’t working while the pit wall claimed it hadn’t been pressed. The Brit disputed that point and returned to the garage.

Midway through the session, Verstappen swapped onto the medium tyres, the Dutchman having lowered the benchmark pace to 1:08.966s before making the change.

Given the focus on race runs, drivers were more conservative in their approach, with only Leclerc having a lap time deleted for track limits in the first half of the session.

Alonso and Ocon finally headed out at the halfway point, the Spaniard rising to fourth fastest with a 1:09.395s on the medium compound tyres.

Ocon was also in the top 10, the Frenchman ninth best, some 0.4s slower than his team-mate.

Leclerc swapped to the soft tyres in the back half of the session, going fastest on a 1:08.660s.

Sainz also improved in the other Ferrari, recording a 1:08.610s to move to the top of the timesheets.

With 15 minutes remaining, Hamilton finally climbed into his Mercedes ahead of venturing out for the first time in the session.

Russell, meanwhile, had completed 23 laps in the half hour of track time he’d enjoyed since his car was repaired.

Hamilton finally pulled out of the garage with 14 minutes remaining with a set of soft tyres fitted and, rather than trundling round on an installation lap, he remained on track to record a 1:09.350s to immediately slot in ninth fastest before pitting next time around.

The session otherwise petered out with Sainz fastest from Leclerc, Verstappen, and the Alpine pairing of Alonso and Ocon.

Norris was 10th best and the fastest McLaren driver, while Ricciardo was only 17th best, 0.3s away from his team-mate.

The Austrian Grand Prix Sprint now follows at 00:30 AEST tonight, a 24-lap competitive session, the outcome of which will set the final grid for Sunday’s race.

Results: Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, Free Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Laps Time Diff
1 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 40 1:08.610
2 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 43 1:08.660 +0.050s
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 32 1:08.778 +0.168s
4 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 21 1:08.832 +0.222s
5 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 24 1:08.848 +0.238s
6 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 36 1:09.179 +0.569s
7 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 33 1:09.240 +0.630s
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 26 1:09.251 +0.641s
9 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 14 1:09.350 +0.740s
10 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 38 1:09.519 +0.909s
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 43 1:09.525 +0.915s
12 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 37 1:09.579 +0.969s
13 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 44 1:09.602 +0.992s
14 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 36 1:09.665 +1.055s
15 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 32 1:09.700 +1.090s
16 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 34 1:09.740 +1.130s
17 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 34 1:09.852 +1.242s
18 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 34 1:09.960 +1.350s
19 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 39 1:10.005 +1.395s
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 36 1:10.261 +1.651s

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