Verstappen tops Styrian GP practice, Hamilton and Ferrari struggle

Red Bull tops the timesheets but Ferrari are off the pace as they test new parts

10 July 2020 - 18:03 By Reuters
Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice for this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix in Austria.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice for this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix in Austria.
Image: Reuters

Red Bull's Max Verstappen went fastest in Styrian Grand Prix practice on Friday while Australian Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Renault and six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton had a difficult afternoon at Mercedes.

Hamilton's Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas, the championship leader after winning Sunday's Austrian season-opener at the same Red Bull Ring circuit, was second and a mere 0.043 slower.

Mexican Sergio Perez, who put Racing Point's 'Pink Mercedes' on top in the morning session at Spielberg, ended the day with the third best time.

It was another tough day for Ricciardo, who brought out red flags in the afternoon after locking up and hitting the tyre wall at speed backwards at turn nine with only 13 minutes gone.

The Australian seemed to limp after clambering out of the car. Renault said he went to the medical centre for a check-up and had been declared fit.

Hamilton ended the second session sixth, behind Canadian Lance Stroll in fourth for Racing Point and Carlos Sainz fifth for McLaren.

With heavy rain forecast on Saturday, there were fears the second session could dictate the grid positions for Sunday's race, although Formula One has held qualifying on a Sunday before.

The Racing Point, whose "Pink Mercedes" nickname comes from its similarity to the 2019 Mercedes that took Hamilton to his sixth championship, lived up to its reputation.

Perez lapped with a best time of one minute 04.867 seconds on soft tyres in the morning, with Verstappen putting in a 1:03.660 in the second session.

Ferrari were off the pace in both sessions as they evaluated new parts, with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Charles Leclerc 12th in the morning. Leclerc was ninth after lunch, Vettel 16th - slower than George Russell's Williams.

Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi stopped his Williams with an engine problem halfway through the first session.

Team mate Russell sat out that practice, with the team's reserve driver Jack Aitken given some track time instead and lapping 17th fastest.

Poland's Robert Kubica, reserve at Alfa Romeo, also took part in the session and was 18th.

Sunday's race will be the first time a circuit has hosted two grands prix in the same season.