SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) – Mexican Sergio Perez put Racing Point’s ‘Pink Mercedes’ on top of the timesheets in first practice for the Styrian Grand Prix on Friday.
The car has earned its nickname from being a close copy of the 2019 Mercedes that took Lewis Hamilton to a sixth Formula One championship.
Perez lapped the Red Bull Ring, which also hosted last weekend’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, with a best time of one minute 04.867 seconds on soft tyres.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was second fastest, 0.096 slower, with the Mercedes pairing of last weekend’s race winner Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton third and fourth respectively but without using the quickest tyres.
Canadian Lance Stroll was fifth fastest in the other Racing Point.
Ferrari were off the pace as they evaluated new parts, with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Charles Leclerc 12th.
Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi stopped his Williams with an engine problem halfway through the session.
Team mate George Russell sat out the practice, with the team’s reserve driver Jack Aitken given some track time instead and lapping 17th fastest.
Poland’s Robert Kubica, reserve at Alfa Romeo, also took part in the session and was 18th.
Sunday’s race will be the first time a circuit has hosted two grands prix in the same season.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)