Wehrlein tops rain-affected opening day in Austria

© XPB 

Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein set the fastest time on the opening day of the post-Austrian Grand Prix test, which saw very little action in the morning due to poor weather conditions.

Heavy rain swept the Red Bull Ring early on and the red flag was out merely 40 minutes into the session. By then, only McLaren-Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco had ventured out on track to complete their installation laps.

Such were the weather conditions that teams considered cancelling Tuesday’s running and extending this week’s test into Thursday. But with skies clearing above the Styrian mountains after lunch break, the circuit went back to green and it was decided to run until 8pm local time instead.

The afternoon session immediately saw a flurry of activity on track, with teams and drivers keen to make up for the morning wash out. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen initially traded fastest lap times, before Force India’s Esteban Ocon – who received a late call up after Mercedes required Wehrlein’s services – provisionally jumped to the top of the timesheets.

The session was then briefly interrupted again, only this time weather conditions had nothing do with it as Fuoco crashed at Turn 1 on his Ferrari test debut.

Wehrlein had a slow start but the DTM ace gradually picked up the pace to put the championship-leading W06 Hybrid at the top of the timesheets before a late session drizzle prevented drivers from further improving their lap times.

Wehrlein’s 1:11.005 benchmark is nearly two tenths faster than what second-placed and fellow Mercedes protégé Ocon could produce in the partially upgraded Force India.

Third went Verstappen, who held the fastest time for a big chunk of the afternoon. Fresh from his second points finish last weekend, the 17-year-old racked up the highest number of laps (97).

Prior to his session-ending shunt, Fuoco had been showing steady progress in the SF15-T. The GP3 racer finished with 71 laps in the bank and the fourth quickest time.

Grosjean eventually secured fifth in the Lotus E23, having conducted a series of aero tests after his early rapid pace. Up next in the standings was fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who was also seen with aero rakes on the Red Bull.

Seventh went Sauber reserve driver Marciello, who did not head out on track until very late in the afternoon. The Italian GP2 racer still managed to complete 53 laps and finished only eight tenths off Wehrlein's quickest time.

McLaren-Honda test and development driver Stoffel Vandoorne had a productive day in the MP4-30 with 76 laps in the bank. But the Belgian had to settle for P8 ahead of Williams' Susie Wolff.

The Scot only got 39 laps under her belt - the lowest total among all the drivers in action - and finished over 2sec off Wehrlein's table-topping benchmark.

F1i will bring you live coverage of the final day of in-season testing from the Red Bull Ring.

Click here for pictures from the opening day of in-season testing in Austria

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Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 P. Wehrlein Mercedes 1:11.005 67
2 E. Ocon Force India 1:11.192 76
3 M. Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:11.328 97
4 A. Fuoco Ferrari 1:11.331 71
5 R. Grosjean Lotus 1:11.509 45
6 P. Gasly Red Bull 1:11.757 80
7 R. Marciello Sauber 1:11.826 53
8 S. Vandoorne McLaren 1:12.530 76
9 S. Wolff Williams 1:13.248 39