Austrian GP: Mercedes power 1-2-3 in 2nd practice

Rosberg pulls out of the garage
Rosberg pulls out of the garage

Nico Rosberg edged out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to lead a rain interrupted second Austrian Grand Prix practice session.

Mercedes ran 1-2-3 with Nico Hulkenberg third in the Force India-Mercedes.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest but ended the session by sliding off the track and into the gravel at Turn 2.

It started in sunshine and Rosberg posted a 1:07.967 early in the session, six tenths down on his FP1 benchmark, before a sudden downpour soaked the circuit.

All drivers remained in the pits for around half an hour as the rain passed over the circuit, before gradually venturing out on Intermediates.

As the resurfaced track dried out rapidly, various slick tire compounds appeared with around 20 minutes to run, and lap times tumbled.

Lewis Hamilton got closest to usurping team-mate Rosberg in the closing minutes, finishing just 0.019s adrift after a run on the purple-marked Ultra Softs.

Before the rain, both Ferraris had completed a run on the Supersofts. In the final stages, on the Ultrasoft, Kimi Raikkonen set the eighth fastest time in 1.08.820, while Sebastian Vettel, on a long run, ended up with a best lap of 1.08.589, set on Supersofts, but only managed four laps on his final run, when he spun into the gravel at turn 2.

TEAM QUOTES

Mercedes GP

Nico Rosberg (1st, 1:07.967): "There are some changes to the circuit this year with the new asphalt and curbing; from my point of view those changes are pretty cool and it's still a really enjoyable track to drive. The new asphalt seems to be suiting our car quite well, maybe better even than the old tarmac, but tire usage will be the decisive factor this weekend as we saw quite a lot of graining during our dry running. In the wet this afternoon, I found a good balance with the car, so overall I'm pretty happy with our first day."

Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:07.986): "It was a tricky day getting up to speed and getting laps out on track. It started coming together this morning but then the rain in the second session meant we had to adapt our program. Luckily, the high track temperatures meant the circuit dried out very quickly, so I was able to get more running on the ultra-soft tire before the session finished and to get a feel for the balance and performance. We didn't have any problems today, which is definitely a positive, and there's definitely more to come. So I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director, Technical: "It's been a good day as we managed to do quite a lot of work despite the disruption of the rain. We had a couple of spins this morning, one for each car but no real damage was done. We needed to do a little bit of work on the balance of both cars but overall the drivers are happy with their respective performances. It's amazing how hard it can rain and yet within an hour the track can be completely dry again. I've never seen anything like that – ever!"

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:08.589): "It was a decent day. It is not entirely clear where we stand, as we didn't have a lot of running due to the weather, in particular in the afternoon, but in general the car feels good. When I span at the end of the second session, I had an issue with brake distribution. It caught me by surprise, but it didn't matter too much, as I only lost a couple of minutes, and in the end it didn't make a lot of a difference. My plans for tomorrow? For sure I will watch the soccer match with the Team. Italy is playing stronger than expected, Germany is quite strong as well, so it should be a good match."

Kimi Raikkonen (8th, 1:08.820): "It was quite a messy day, but overall I had good feelings. In the morning we managed to have a few runs while in the afternoon, because of the weather conditions, we did not get to do many laps and never really got a proper qualifying simulation done. The day could have been a lot better, the situation now it's a bit unknown, but it's not too bad either. There is no point now in starting to guess where we are, we still have tomorrow morning to know, and I'm sure it will be ok."

Williams-Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas (9th, 1:08.941): "It was a bit of a tricky day in terms of car balance. Obviously with the rain in FP2, we struggled to set-up the car, but I'm sure before FP3 tomorrow we can still improve the car and our laptimes. I think it was a good idea to go out in the rain to check the balance, because there's a possibility of rain for the rest of the weekend. We now have a good idea of how the car works in wet conditions and we will know what adjustments we need to make if it does rain."

Felipe Massa (12th, 1:09.184): "It wasn't a perfect Friday due to the weather, but at least we had some laps in the wet as well as the dry to understand the car in both conditions, so it wasn't bad. We couldn't learn everything we would have liked because of the weather, but the feeling of the car was ok in the wet, with half the track very wet and the other half quite dry, so it was actually a reasonable Friday to understand the car. The track is much quicker than before because the asphalt grip is a little bit higher and the curbs are flat, so you can use them a lot more than in the past. You can have a tricky moment if you use too much, but it's up to you how much you use. Now we need to wait until tomorrow to understand where we are once everyone is on similar tires and fuel loads."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: "It was a bit of a disjointed session because of the weather. We ran at the start of FP2 to try to beat the weather like everyone else, but it wasn't possible. It rained very heavily for a long period before we decided to go out on the intermediate tire, where we tried different set-up options. Once we managed to get a clear lap in, we were reasonably competitive. I'm quite happy with how competitive we are on the dry tires. We were able to go out at the end of the session and learn a little bit about our set-up for qualifying and the race, and if we'd been able to get our laps in before the virtual safety car we would have finished the session higher. There are a lot of unknowns going into the rest of the weekend, as there always are on disjointed days like today, but that's good because we've got some upgrades coming tomorrow which we're going to try and get on the car that should move us forward. The new asphalt offers a little more grip than before, but not a huge amount. The curbs are a lot lower and the drivers reported that the track is particularly quick because of that. We're still learning about the asphalt and its interaction with rubber, and we will continue to do so as it evolves throughout the weekend. We understood it today, but the trick with new asphalt is understanding how it evolves, what it's going to be like on Sunday and therefore what the delta is going to be between tire compounds, and the degradation."

Red Bull-Tag Heuer

Daniel Ricciardo (5th, 1:08.649): "I think we've had a pretty good day and didn't fight the car too much today. This morning we got up to speed pretty quickly, which was important. Then this afternoon was crazy. The level of rain was really high during the session, but it was actually good to experience two different conditions. The rain was so local and came in really hard at Turn 8 and 9 so that part of the track was especially tricky. If in the race you get that part of the track first before the others then you could be quite unlucky. It's been a track where we struggled a bit in the past, but I felt pretty comfortable from lap one so I think we are more or less there and won't be here until midnight tonight trying to find a set up. We are pretty close to where we need to be so that's a good start. If it rains tomorrow then anything is possible. It'll be very interesting."

Max Verstappen (7th, 1:08.761): "The first session today was a bit shorter than I would have liked, so we lost a bit of time there and also at the beginning of the second session. The car wasn't quite ready due to the damage we suffered in the first session so that put us on the back foot a bit. We would have liked to run more but I'm pretty happy heading into Saturday with the laps I did, it wasn't too bad. I actually didn't expect to be that close so I'm quite happy. The curbs are pretty high and can cause damage as we saw, but it's up to us to stay off them and respect the track limits. I didn't know they would be so hard on the car, perhaps one longer curb instead of lots of smaller ones would be better. Looking ahead at the weather for the rest of the weekend I hope it rains because our car is really good in the wet, so let's see what happens in qualifying."

Force India-Mercedes

Nico Hulkenberg (3rd, 1:08.580):

Sergio Perez (14th, 1:09.226):

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal:

Jakob Andreasen, Chief Engineer:

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer:

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal:

Renault

Kevin Magnussen (15th, 1:09.525):

Jolyon Palmer (16th, 1:10.020):

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:

Nick Chester, Technical Director:

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Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Carlos Sainz (6th, 1:08.713): "I think today was a very good day for us. Obviously it's a bit difficult to make any conclusions as it's only Friday, everyone's run plans were different and we even had some rain, but we can be happy. It seems like every tire is working well on this new tarmac – there's a lot of grip and lap times are very quick compared to last year. It feels nice to drive here, it's one of the smoothest surfaces I've ever driven on and the car feels great around here! Tonight we will continue to work hard and prepare for the rest of the weekend."

Daniil Kvyat (13th, 1:09.207): "We can be satisfied with today, our practice sessions were very useful and I'd say we have enough data to be in good shape tomorrow. There was a lot going on in both FP1 and FP2 – we had some dry running, then it rained, then the sun came out again… So it's been interesting! I'm feeling okay in the car and I think we can be positive for tomorrow."

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer: "There was definitely a bit of everything today: we changed our plans slightly this morning, as we saw there was a chance to have some rain in FP2. In the end, I think this was probably the right thing to do as the rain did come. It meant we used the Ultrasoft in FP1 instead of FP2 as we usually do. As anticipated, the new tarmac has certainly given faster lap times than last year and this has given the tires a much harder time. To that end, the long runs we did in FP1 look quite tricky for the tire. We saw quite a bit of rear graining and this will need some careful consideration regarding the set-up for the rest of the weekend. In the wet both drivers took quite a measured approach, building up their pace lap by lap and they were quite happy with the car."

Sauber-Ferrari

Marcus Ericsson (19th, 1:10.140): "It was a decent day. It's Friday, so we needed to run as many laps as possible in both practice sessions. The track is quite different with the new surface as well as the new curbs. There was a lot to learn today. We were able to test three different compounds – the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tires. It was good to see the steps between them. FP2 was not ideal with the rain interrupting our program. Nevertheless, we gathered some data today, and I am sure we can optimize things for tomorrow."

Felipe Nasr (21st, 1:10.444): "In FP1 we were able to cover a decent mileage. I was able to see how the car behaves on the new surface on soft and supersoft tires. It was important to understand the new tarmac and how much it is affecting the tires. In terms of the car set-up, I am satisfied with the balance so far. I ran the practice engine, so I am sure there is more to come when I go back to the race engine from tomorrow on. In FP2 the heavy rain compromised our program as we could not do high-fuel runs as planned. It is a bit of an unknown for us, but other teams were compromised as well. We will have a busy FP3 session ahead of us."

McLaren-Honda

Jenson Button (10th, 1:08.994): "Even with the new asphalt, the camber changes in the corners make it tricky to drive around here. Plus, there are a lot of big, wide curbs that you can use, but they wear the floor, which makes it difficult for everyone. We use all three different types of dry-weather compound today – and I still think it's a bit up-in-the-air about which tires will be best in the race. Then, on the Inters, we were one of the quickest cars, which was a positive. There are a lot of fast cars out there, so it'll be tough for us to get into Q3 tomorrow, but there's rain forecast for the rest of the weekend, which should give us some useful opportunities."

Fernando Alonso (11th, 1:09.075): "I quite like the new track surface – it's very smooth and there are no bumps. We were also able to exploit the grip, which was quite good. This afternoon, we had the opportunity to run on the track after the rain – it only took 30 minutes for the circuit to dry out enough for us to fit dry-weather tires. I think we need to be ready and focused for any opportunity if it rains on Sunday like it did this afternoon – we should try and take advantage of that."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "A tricky day for the team as we juggled our program to adapt to the changing weather conditions. This afternoon's mid-session shower was quite incredible in its suddenness and sheer intensity, but, happily, it quickly dried out and we were able to get some running under our belts before the end of FP2. Nonetheless, the wet conditions robbed us of the opportunity to gather as much useful long-run data as we'd normally like, so there's still a bit more work to do tomorrow – weather permitting – to best prepare us for qualifying. The morning's session was spent undertaking a number of aero tests as we work to introduce new components. Both drivers were satisfied with the car's balance, despite the lack of running, but we still need to make some improvements if we're to challenge for Q3 tomorrow and points in Sunday's race."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda: "Today as a whole became a busy Friday for the team due to the sudden rain in FP2. From a power unit point of view, we have carried over almost all components from the European GP, so we focused on our set-up for the weekend as well as support the team's run plans. Last year, we were hampered by lack of deployment on the final straight and the steep inclines of Turns One and Two, but I am happy to say that our new turbo's upgrades have been working well this weekend. The weather forecast still shows instability and rain for the weekend, so we hope to be prepared for whatever nature throws at us."

Manor GP-Mercedes

Pascal Wehrlein (17th, 1:10.034):

Rio Haryanto (22nd, 1:11.328):

Dave Ryan, Racing Director:

Haas-Ferrari

Esteban Gutierrez (18th, 1:10.138): "It was a very tricky day for us. It was not easy to have consistency, especially with the first practice. I managed to do some laps, but then we had a problem, which interrupted the whole session. It was the same in the second practice. We had only done a few laps and it started to rain, then at the end of the session I got held up by another issue. So, overall it was not a great day today, but we will try to do our best to recover for tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and qualifying."

Romain Grosjean (20th, 1:10.400): "FP2 was a tricky session with the weather. The morning was not too bad. I was pretty happy with the car. This afternoon we focused more on the long run on high fuel. The car doesn't feel too bad. It's all about understanding the tires and avoiding the graining, and then getting them in the proper working range. We're getting better and better with that."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "FP1 was productive for Romain. We achieved our program and got a lot of data from the session. We were prepared for the rain in the afternoon, so it wasn't a normal Friday morning as we did a little of the FP2 program as well. We wanted to do the same with Esteban, but he had an electronic issue which resulted in him only being able to go out to do an installation lap at the end. We were expecting the rain in FP2 and we got as much done as we could. We then waited for the rain to pass but, unfortunately, we had the same electronic problem for Esteban that he experienced in FP1, which resulted in stopping his program early. We are making a few changes and, hopefully, that will resolve the issue. Romain, however, managed a long run and we completed everything we wanted to achieve."

Results:

Pos Driver Car/Engine Time Behind Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes/Mercedes 1m07.967s 0.000s 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes/Mercedes 1m07.986s 0.019s 19
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m08.580s 0.613s 28
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari/Ferrari 1m08.589s 0.622s 25
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m08.649s 0.682s 30
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m08.713s 0.746s 32
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m08.761s 0.794s 20
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari/Ferrari 1m08.820s 0.853s 23
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m08.941s 0.974s 24
10 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m08.994s 1.027s 30
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m09.075s 1.108s 26
12 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m09.184s 1.217s 17
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m09.207s 1.240s 26
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m09.226s 1.259s 32
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault/Renault 1m09.525s 1.558s 19
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault/Renault 1m10.020s 2.053s 23
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m10.034s 2.067s 20
18 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m10.138s 2.171s 16
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m10.140s 2.173s 19
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m10.400s 2.433s 31
21 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m10.444s 2.477s 22
22 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1m11.328s 3.361s 25

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