Austrian GP: Verstappen, Bottas crash out of FP2 as Leclerc sets pace

Three top drivers had difficulty with a heavily disrupted FP2 at the Austrian Grand Prix, although Lewis Hamilton stayed out of trouble.

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas both crashed while Sebastian Vettel span out in an eventful FP2 session at the Austrian Grand Prix where Charles Leclerc ran fastest.

There had been precious little drama involving the leading drivers in FP1, as Lewis Hamilton narrowly topped Vettel and Bottas.

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But the second practice session on Friday saw far more action as a series of incidents caused chaos and Leclerc capitalised to enjoy a speedy drive.

 

Verstappen - fifth fastest in the morning but a winner last year in Spielberg - was the first big name to find trouble when he crashed into the barriers at turn 10 and brought out the red flags.

A second collision then intervened shortly after the restart as 2017 winner Bottas careered into the gravel at turn six and damaged the front of his Mercedes car on the barrier.

Both men were unharmed but there was still time for Vettel to lose control of his SF90, losing the rear end of his SF90 at the troublesome Turn 10.

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Meanwhile, his Ferrari teammate Leclerc recorded the fastest time at one minute and 5.086 seconds, although Bottas' crash was not enough to keep him from coming in second.

Hamilton was slower in fourth while on the hard tyre, with Pierre Gasly third, but the Briton might well be boosted by an error-free day heading into the weekend as he hunts a seventh win in nine 2019 races.

"Ferrari and Red Bull look quick, particularly Ferrari, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out on Saturday," said Hamilton. "This is one of those circuits where the times are always very, very close and small margins make the difference."

"Wind to blame for Austria crashes"

Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen explained they had been hindered by the wind as they both crashed out of a dramatic FP2 ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

On a troublesome Friday for Bottas, he lost control of his Mercedes at turn six and caused heavy damage to the front of his car. That was after an oil leak was discovered in his new power unit in FP1, prompting him to switch back to an old one.

"It was a pretty big hit for me in second practice but I'm all OK with no pain," Bottas said.

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"There were some gusts out there this afternoon and I think I managed to find one of them - the corners here are very tricky and very penalising if you make even a small error.

"But I must say I prefer this kind of circuit which penalises mistakes - it's how I like it and it makes it even more exciting.

"It's going to be very hot this weekend, especially on Sunday, and it will put the cars to the limit in terms of cooling the brakes and the engine. It's going to be very close on the time sheets."

Red Bull star Verstappen, the winner in Spielberg last year, was trying to see the positives after he also brought out the red flags with a heavy crash on turn 10.

"I was happy in the car but I was already complaining all my laps about the wind being really tricky," said the Dutchman.

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"In some places, [I was] just losing the rear. I got into that corner and suddenly, you can see in the data, the rear turned around, so that definitely didn't help. It was very gusty and the wind wasn't consistent which caught me out in the middle of the last corner.

"I lost the rear and hit the barrier pretty hard. Luckily, everything is fixable and it's Friday so we're not running all the race material yet. It's just a shame for the team as they have a lot on [Friday night] now.

"This year, the cars in general are more sensitive to the wind, as you can see as well with Valtteri, at one point, he just lost it. Crashes can happen unfortunately, but maybe it's a good thing because they'll take the whole car apart so a few new parts on it.

"My feeling in the car was good and we looked quite competitive. Of course, you always want to do better but my laps were looking quite good before the crash."