There was some rain during the first free practice session for the 2014 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix, which hindered teams from gathering crucial data for the new venue. The good news is that the skies should clear up over the weekend, with a mostly sunny prediction pegged for Sunday’s race. The temperature should reach a maximum 78 degrees F (25 degrees C) and wind speeds should be low.

The Austrian Grand Prix hasn’t been on the calendar since 2003 but most drivers should be familiar with the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg where the race is being held thanks to hours spent in the simulators. There are very few drivers who have race on the circuit before, such as Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, but this won’t be much of an advantage as the track and limit isn’t exactly the same as 11 years ago, and the cars are very different now as well.

The Red Bull Ring features four straights and numerous sharp corners. As a result, average speeds are generally low, meaning the cars will have to rely on mechanical grip from the tires more than aerodynamic downforce. The surface is also very smooth, which allows Pirelli to bring the two softest tire compounds (Soft and Supersoft) in its range to the race.

At the conclusion of Friday’s practice sessions, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets with a 1:09.542. His teammate Nico Rosberg was just 0.377 of a second off the pace while the third quickest, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, was almost a whole second back. The fastest time at the Red Bull Ring was clocked by Michael Schumacher in 2003 back when the circuit was called the A1-Ring. His time was 1:08.337.

Going into qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s race, Nico Rosberg leads the 2014 Drivers’ Championship with 140 points. Lewis Hamilton is second with 118 points, while Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is third with 79 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG is the clear leader with 258 points versus the 139 of Red Bull Racing and 87 of Ferrari.


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