Perez Pacey on Day 1 of Styrian Grand Prix
Sergio Perez set the pace in opening practice for Formula 1’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring before Racing Point underlined the RP20’s strong pace once again in FP2.
Following on from their points-scoring finish at the Red Bull Ring last weekend, Checo picked up where he left off.
Beginning on the hard compound tyres, Checo and Lance racked up the laps early on in FP1 and both drivers set times comfortably inside the Top 10.
The duo then swiftly climbed the leaderboard on the soft tyres as Checo and Lance began posting efforts at the sharp end of the grid.
With over half an hour of running left on the clock, Checo posted a 1.04.867 time to set the FP1 benchmark.
Lance steadily improved and took P5 courtesy of his 1.05.396 as the team racked up over 50 laps of running across the two cars.
FP2 took on extra significance due to potential bad weather on Saturday that could force a scenario in which the FP2 times set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
The first half of the session featured teams posting their fastest laps and both Checo and Lance impressed.
Both drivers took turns at the top of the times before Checo sealed P3 with a 1.03.877 lap. His time was only fractionally slower than his Q2 and Q3 laps at the same track last weekend.
Lance followed Checo in P4 after his 1.04.241 effort as the two drivers combined good pace with consistent running and completed 43 laps each.
“It’s been a promising day. We’ve been chipping away and learning about our car, and that’s been positive so far – exploring where we can make improvements and find performance.
“It’s very close among the top teams, but we’ve shown that both cars are in the mix for points, just like we were last weekend.
“Obviously, there’s signs of wet weather tomorrow so let’s wait and see what happens in Qualifying.”
“It’s been a good day and I’m happy with the car: the signs are that we look quite competitive.
“It’s unique circumstances to be racing at the same circuit two weeks in a row. We are getting to know the place extremely well.
“It’s still early in the season, so we were able to use today’s running to look at ways to improve the car and try some new set-up ideas to progress from last weekend.
“We now need to wait and see what happens with the weather and Qualifying, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
If the expected rain washes out Saturday and the race grid is set from FP2 times, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will be the big beneficiary, having topped the time sheets in FP2 with a 1:03.660.
“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer to drive and we have made a good step. It is only Friday Practice and of course it is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but from our side I think we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and I think we are heading the right way which I’m pleased about. We have to see what will happen tomorrow with the weather but otherwise we will find out where we really are on Sunday. Normally our race pace is more competitive but already over one lap we can’t complain and actually the 11 laps I did in last week’s race didn’t look too bad, so it can only get better. Even if tomorrow the weather is too bad for qualifying I expect we will still have Sunday morning to do it, so I don’t expect to be on pole position with this lap.”