P1: Perez fastest as F1 returns to Austria

Second part of Austria double-header starts with Racing Point on top, while Ferrari bring two big upgrades to under-performing car

By Matt Morlidge

Last Updated: 10/07/20 11:59am

Sergio Perez beat Max Verstappen and Mercedes to set a surprise pace for Racing Point in Styrian GP first practice, as Formula 1 returned to Austria’s Spielberg circuit following a dramatic season-opener.

For the first time in F1 history, the sport is hosting back-to-back Grands Prix at the same track – with the Styria region taking the name for the second instalment- and less than a week after Valtteri Bottas won the first race, the following weekend began with plenty of teams up and down the grid testing new parts in a bid to improve their 2020 cars.

Ferrari, who have fast-tracked two major upgrades to their car, were of particular interest as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc tested a new front wing and floor.

But it was Perez, a sixth-place finisher in the Austrian GP, who topped the timesheets to kick-start F1’s second weekend of the season, finishing a tenth of a second ahead of Verstappen on the same soft tyre.

Verstappen was also running updates on his Red Bull as they look to close the gap to Mercedes.

And while he did beat Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in P1, they were running on the medium tyre and, presumably, holding pace back given how big an advantage they enjoyed in the opening weekend.

Despite Ferrari’s new parts, Vettel and Leclerc placed only 10th and 12th.

Practice One took place in glorious sunshine in Austria, although heavy rain is forecast for Saturday’s qualifying – which could even mean that Friday afternoon’s P2 times set the grid for the race.

Nicolas Latifi car stops during P1 of the Stryrian GP.

Nicolas Latifi car stops during P1 of the Stryrian GP.

Will the Styrian GP pecking order remain the same?
Considering their pace leading up to the first Austria race, finishing sixth last Sunday will have been a slight disappointment to Racing Point as they finished behind a Ferrari and both McLarens.

But their build-up to the Styrian GP – Lance Stroll was fifth in the other car – was an encouraging start.

Alex Albon was sixth for Red Bull, while Carlos Sainz, and not last week’s podium-sitter Lando Norris, was the lead McLaren in seventh.

There were two additions to the field for P1, with Jack Aitken making his official F1 debut for the Williams while Robert Kubica, who was on the 2019 grid with the Grove team, drove the Alfa Romeo.

Aitken was 17th, a place ahead of the Pole.

Behind them were Nicholas Latifi, who suffered a gearbox issue early on in the Williams and completed only six laps, three more than Kevin Magnussen as Haas encountered battery problems.

Styrian GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:04.867
2. Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.096
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.222
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.253
5. Lance Stroll Racing Point +0.529
6. Alexander Albon Red Bull +0.616
7. Carlos Sainz McLaren +0.735
8. Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0.831
9. Daniel Ricciardo Renault +0.902
10. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.903
11. Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri +0.948
12. Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.970
13. Esteban Ocon Renault +1.007
14. Lando Norris McLaren +1.041
15. Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1.574
16. Romain Grosjean Haas +1.579
17. Jack Aitken Williams +1.901
18. Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo +1.930
19. Nicholas Latifi Williams +4.731
20. Kevin Magnussen Haas No time set

The new Formula 1 season is underway in dramatic style on Sky Sports F1 and continues this week with the second race at the Red Bull Ring – the Styrian GP. Find out more & subscribe.

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