Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had a mixed day. He managed just 4 laps in FP1 with transmission gremlins and despite the German setting the quickest time in FP2 – 0.011 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg – again there were more problems for the Ferrari gearbox. Vettel completed 28 laps in FP2.
For only the second time in the last 27 FP2 sessions, Lewis Hamilton was outside the top 3 times set.
With just over an half an hour to go in FP2, Lewis climbed out of the car shaking his head. He was at the time over half a second down on team mate Nico Rosberg ,just 5th on the time sheets.
Rosberg had beaten Hamilton in FP1 by just over 3/10ths of a second.
Almost all the drivers were repeatedly making off track excursions, particularly at turns 1, 8 and 9. The coolish temperatures and green track meant the drivers were struggling to switch the harder of the two tyre compounds on.
Yet when the Mercedes pair switched to the super soft tyre, Hamilton fell further behind Rosberg and was animated in his discussions with Pete Bonnington inside the garage with just 35 minutes to go of FP2.
Hamilton’s driving style particularly suits circuits like Australia and Canada, where a point and squirt kind of approach is required. The Red Bull Ring has similar characteristics to these circuits, yet surprisingly Hamilton couldn’t master 3 consecutive sectors all day.
When asked whether he was concerned about finishing in P5, Hamilton replied, “Not really the lap I was on compared to Nico was 4/10ths up”. Though Martin Brundle suggested Hamilton ruined his lap approaching turn 8 about “50 mph” too fast.
Kimi Raikonen shredded his super soft tyre as he began his long run simulation and was forced to run most of the session on the soft tyre.
On F1’s return to the circuit in the Styrian mountains in 2014, Lewis Hamilton lost out to his team mate in FP1 but reasserted himself for FP2. However, he failed to set a representative lap time in Saturday qualifying and started the race P8.
On Sunday, Hamilton came through the field to finish P2 on Sunday, so all is not yet lost for the current F1 champion.
Sebastian Vettel confirmed his problem was sensor related and does not expect to be forced into taking a new gearbox. Ferrari have now set the weekend up nicely, giving the neutrals hope they can qualify well and get amongst the Mercedes pair.