Wind to blame for Austria crashes, explain Bottas & Verstappen

What was left of Bottas' car after his dramatic FP2 crash at the Austrian Grand Prix

Wind was the main cause of errors from Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen that led to dramatic FP2 crashes, the two drivers said.

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.

A negative session came with the Finn looking to bounce back after team-mate Lewis Hamilton opened up a 36-point lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship by winning in France last week.

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

“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.

“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.”

Hamilton topped FP1 and enjoyed a comparatively calmer day. Charles Leclerc was quickest amid the FP2 chaos, which also saw Sebastian Vettel spin out but narrowly avoid the barriers.

“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.”