The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team laid down a marker on Day 1 of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest time in both FP1 and FP2, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a close second in both sessions.
“It’s great to be back. It’s been a long time coming. The new car obviously feels different than the 2018 car we got to test at Silverstone a few weeks ago, but I think we have also been able to continue to improve the car compared to last year, so that’s a big positive. The track was a little bit greasy and while the grip will pick up, it feels like the track only improved a very small amount. It was looking good out there today, but you can never take too much from practice. You never know what power and fuel other teams are running. So we will take today’s result with a pinch of salt, try and improve the car tonight and come back for the fight tomorrow.”
“It’s fantastic to be back in the car. I’ve really enjoyed every single lap, every single run. We’ve been making good progress throughout the day, step by step, as it is to be expected after such a long break. It was a decent day overall, although we had a small problem with my car towards the end. The grip level was pretty low today, but I’m sure the track will ramp up over the course of the weekend. We need to stay on top of that as that can change the set-up quite a bit on this track. The main challenge will be to get the balance right for both high-speed and low-speed corners and fine tune the car for that single lap on Saturday, while keeping our race pace in mind as well. It’s only Friday, the lap times will come down tomorrow with the track improving, with additional performance items from all the teams and with the drivers pushing hard, so it will be interesting to find out where we stand.”
It’s great to be back at the track after such a long time. We have quite a few new developments on the car since it last ran in winter testing, so we’ve had a busy day checking that they were all working as expected. We’ve had a couple of little niggles that got in the way of running today for both drivers; Lewis had a telemetry outage at the start of the second session that held us up and Valtteri stopped early after a gearbox problem. We’re still looking into Valtteri’s problem, at the moment we don’t know what has caused it. This circuit hasn’t been kind to us in recent years, but the car seemed to be working reasonably well from the start this year. We’ve still got work to do on the balance but more relevant is that we’re expecting a much hotter track tomorrow that will put the tyres into a different working window. Our pace seemed competitive today, but we don’t really know where everyone is in terms of fuel or engine modes and we tend to see everything close up when the temperatures go up.