The first practice sessions for the eighth race of the season took place today in Spielberg, Austria.
- Lewis Hamilton set the best time of the day, closely followed by Nico Rosberg in their F1 debut at this circuit
- The Silver Arrows were the only two cars to post a lap time under 1:10 today, both in the second session
- Nico required a change of ERS cooling pump between the two sessions, which was completed successfully
- The drivers completed a total of 138 laps today, equivalent to nearly two race distances
It didn’t feel bad out there today considering this is a new track to me. Already after the first few laps I was feeling comfortable and always seemed to be finding time with new lines and improvements. To be as quick as I was considering others have already driven this track is a great feeling. It was very windy out there today, but we got a lot of running and we feel set for the race on Sunday. The high speed corners were working the rear tyres hard but they seemed to cope well. The feeling was good for both sets of tyres, even in the long runs, so if the car is like this for the race, I’m in a good place. The goal for tomorrow will be pole position but there is still a long straight up to turn two so anything can happen in the race.
I did a lot of laps today and on a new track every lap is important for the learning process, so I’m quite happy with that. In general it was a complicated day for me, so there is still some lap time to find compared to my teammate and there is a lot of work required from me tonight. My car is bouncing a lot down the straights and that continues into my braking zones, so it was difficult there. But I’m sure we can improve on that. It is really great to be back on this wonderful track again, thanks to Bernie and Mr. Mateschitz. Austria definitely needs an F1 race. There we so many fans out there already, which is great to see.
First of all, it is a fantastic feeling to be back racing in Austria. My compliments go to Dietrich Mateschitz on a fantastic facility, which is a great international showcase for our country. It feels like a home race for our team, too; for myself and Niki of course – but also because of the fantastic support we have seen from the passionate F1 fans here in Spielberg. I am sure we can expect an incredible atmosphere tomorrow and especially on Sunday. We had a good day out on track – the car is competitive and both drivers seemed pretty comfortable out there. But it wasn’t a trouble-free day, with some small issues that cost us track time on both sides of the garage. It’s always better to find these things on Friday than Sunday, of course. But we will be working hard to make sure there is no recurrence so we can get both cars to the chequered flag as safely and competitively as possible.
We covered the work we needed to do during first practice and, although the session was slightly disrupted by light rain showers, we managed to run the car at both high and low fuel levels. This is a great circuit and, as expected, is proving hard on brakes; similarly, the effective loss of downforce experienced from running at altitude meant lots of drivers were struggling to put together consistent laps. Nico and Lewis were both happy with the car today and able to set competitive times. Nico suffered a problem with the ERS system in P1 which we were able to fix for the afternoon. We then had to cut Lewis’ afternoon session slightly short as a precaution after he experienced a different ERS issue. The weather forecast predicts dry conditions across the rest of the weekend, so we will be working tonight to prepare the cars accordingly for tomorrow and Sunday.