With news that FP2 results could determine the Styrian Grand Prix starting grid, Mercedes is even more disappointed by today’s results.
The forecast is Austria calls for heavy rain and thunderstorms on Saturday, which means qualifying could be cancelled. If this is the case there are two options: either qualifying will be held on Sunday morning before the race, or today’s free practice 2 results will determine the starting grid.
The second option would not be good for Lewis Hamilton as he finished the second free practice in P6.
“If we have to start [in P6], that would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“[FP2] wasn’t great. I’d be starting further back than I was even last week. So it would definitely make it challenging. I’ll try to do the ‘dry dance’, if there’s a dry dance.
“It felt relatively normal but it was quite far off. So there’s more work that needs to go on in the background to try and figure out why.
“I was feeling good in practice one and the start of [second practice] felt pretty good. Then it started to drop off.
“Others out there are obviously quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace so hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.”
Another possible problem is Mercedes’ persistent gearbox issue which might again require Hamilton and Bottas to stay off the kerbs during the race.
“I think we still need to be careful. You can still pretty much damage the car with the kerbs.
“Whether or not it’s gonna be as hard as Sunday, we’ll find out,” concluded Hamilton.
His team-mate Valtteri Bottas, however, had a much better FP2 session and finished in P2.
“Practice was really useful,” said Bottas.
“We had quite a few things to try, work and analyze after last weekend, so in FP1 we were mainly trying to see if we have been able to fix the reliability concerns we had in the race, last Sunday.
“The team is still looking into that but I think we made progress on that, so that’s good news. We also used one extra set of tyres today, as it’s almost certain it will be raining tomorrow.
“With that tyre set I pushed a bit harder, it wasn’t still not full qualifying, but it was good fun,” concluded Bottas.
Team boss Toto Wolff was also a bit concerned after learning FP2 results could be used to determine the starting grid on Sunday.
“It wasn’t a full attack, nor was it half an attack,” said Wolff to ORF.
“We’ve already put in a little bit and were at a level that we wouldn’t normally ride in the second free practice.
“We’re still feeling a little in the dark, especially with Lewis’ time, because there was a problem with his car.”
When asked directly if he knew what went wrong with Hamilton Wolff bluntly said: “Yeah, if only we knew!”
In the end he gave a quick analysis of the practice sessions.
“I would say that Verstappen has improved compared to last week and the Racing Point drivers. The rest are slower than we are.”