Verstappen car drama: What happened at the only F1 training session in Austria

Verstappen car drama: What happened at the only F1 training session in Austria
Verstappen car drama: What happened at the only F1 training session in Austria

Max Verstappen recovered from a moment of shock just after the halfway mark when he came to a stop on the start/finish straight, triggering a red flag at the end of the only free practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Shortly after the half-hour mark, an “engine failure” occurred, as Verstappen described it, in the penultimate corner with 28 minutes to go. He parked at the pit wall and let the car roll back down the hill after the session was stopped. He also needed help from track marshals to get back to the garage.

Fortunately, Red Bull was able to fix the problem immediately and he returned to the track shortly after the restart. After spending most of the session in third place thanks to his work on the medium tyres, Verstappen then switched to softs and set a time of 1m05.685s on his simulated qualifying lap.

That put him a comfortable 0.276 seconds faster than McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. However, that performance was not quite as encouraging as it seemed on paper and the sprint qualifying later today is likely to be a close battle.

Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull finished 12ththHowever, he was close behind Verstappen in terms of overall pace when running on medium tyres before he was unable to improve his time on soft tyres.


McLaren used a new front wing in this session, along with corresponding changes to the front suspension. Piastri used this wing from the start, while Lando Norris initially used the old design as a back-to-back model.

After covering much of the track on hard tyres, McLaren switched to soft tyres for the qualifying simulation. Norris started his attempt late and looked to have a good chance of overtaking Verstappen after setting the fastest time of all in the first sector – almost a tenth of a second faster than the Red Bull driver.

However, he was too aggressive in the downhill right-hander at Turn 4, locking up briefly and driving through the gravel trap. But with Piastri driving the best second sector, the McLaren’s basic pace looks strong.


Mercedes led for much of the race, with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace on hard tyres while the teams focused on their race preparations. This pace was enough to take him to fifth place, 0.569s behind the leader, as Hamilton opted against soft tyres.

Teammate George Russell managed this, but his lap was ruined by a collision with the Sauber of Zhou Guanyu at Turn 4. He aborted, giving Zhou a sarcastic thumbs up, even though his time in the first sector was slightly slower than Verstappen’s.

But it was another encouraging performance for Mercedes, which showed signs in sprint qualifying this afternoon that it has the pace to challenge for pole position.


Just like in Spain, Ferrari appeared to be the fourth fastest of the leading teams at the end, although Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished third and fourth.

After completing their qualifying simulations, they briefly held the top two spots but were then pushed back. However, had they all completed proper qualifying simulations on soft tyres, they would likely have been overtaken by the Mercedes drivers and Norris.


Alpine driver Esteban Ocon overtook Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and was fastest in the group of six teams in the midfield.

Ocon was only six tenths behind, with his teammate Pierre Gasly following him in 11th Place, just behind Alonso.

Yuki Tsunoda was certainly encouraged to finish ninth despite a difficult session in which he complained about a steering column that “feels weird”.

RB unveiled a major upgrade in Barcelona last weekend that didn’t work as hoped. This meant the team split the specification between Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda. It wasn’t a direct split between old and new spec. Ricciardo described the approach as “a bit of a mixed bag”. This included the use of new winglets on the rear drums, which were introduced for this weekend.

Ricciardo finished 16ththbut the fact that Tsunoda showed top-10 pace and the team completed its program with different specifications will be a little encouraging for the team.

Sauber, Haas and Williams had the three slowest cars in FP1, but with the short, sharp lap at the Red Bull Ring, the gap between the fastest and the furthest behind car (Alex Albon’s Williams in 18th) grew ever was only 1.310 seconds.

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