Sainz leads Ferrari 1-2 in second Austrian GP practice


 Carlos Sainz narrowly edged Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to top final practice at the Austrian Grand Prix. The Spaniard’s fastest lap, a 1m08.610s, was just 0.05s quicker than Leclerc’s best effort, both on the soft tires. Pole-getter for today’s sprint, Max Verstappen was third and 0.168s off the pace.

The Ferrari teammates were among the most prolific lap-setting teams despite the fundamentally dead-rubber nature of the hour run under parc ferme conditions, accumulating 82 laps between them, or more than a race distance in total.

Verstappen’s session was somewhat more subdued, the Dutchman completing only 32 laps mostly on medium tires, on which his quickest time was set. He broke out a used set of softs at the end of the hour but got caught in traffic and opted against pursuing a flying lap.

Alpine teammates Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were 0.2s off the pace and likewise used the medium tire to set their fastest times, beating Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull Racing car, who was more than half a second adrift.

Mercedes had a fraught start to Saturday, with mechanics flat out from moment the paddock opened to staff, repairing both cars after George Russell and Lewis Hamilton crashed out of qualifying.

The team chose not to break the overnight curfew, leaving it with just six hours spread across Friday night and this morning to fix both cars. Both needed gearbox changes, and Hamilton’s car had to be built up from the spare chassis owing to the extensive damage to the right-hand side of his previous tub.

Lando Norris improved on his Friday form to finish 10th. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel completed 87 laps between them to finish 11th and 13th, with Pierre Gasly splitting the middle in 12th. Together with Russell, the Aston Martin drivers were the only ones to sample the hard-compound tire in the hour. The white-walled rubber is likely to be key to race strategy on Sunday.

Zhou Guanyu was 14th ahead of Mick Schumacher and Alex Albon, with Daniel Ricciardo a lowly 17th.

Kevin Magnussen was 18th ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi.

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