The new-for-2021 60-minute practice session format means there is condensed track time with just two hours of running on Friday compared to three in 2021.
With the same amount of tyres available as last year and teams aiming to complete the usual targets in practice, the pressure is on working efficiently across the sessions.
While naturally, the lap tally is lower than an average practice session in 2020, the team worked effectively to complete Sebastian and Lance’s programmes.
The opening practice session takes place in unrepresentative daylight conditions, but all track time is valuable at this early point in the season.
Lance and Sebastian both completed the 60-minute session on sets of the Soft tyre for several shorter runs.
The drivers would both set times inside the top 10 early in the session, but with lap times not the priority, the duo focused on improving their understanding of the AMR21.
Sebastian would eventually set a best time of 1.33.157 for 12th place, while Lance took 13th courtesy of a 1.33.233 lap.
Between the duo, Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team completed 41 laps in FP1 to cap an encouraging start to the day.
As Saturday’s FP3 takes place in afternoon conditions, an efficient FP2 is essential and the team focused on improving the balance of the AMR21.
Both Sebastian and Lance conducted the majority of their FP2 running on the Medium tyre and took advantage of the cooler night conditions.
The pair immediately shot to the top six of the timesheets in the opening five minutes with Sebastian lapping in 1.32.823 and Lance following his team-mate across the line to post a 1.32.787 effort.
Apart from a brief yellow flag caused by an off for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, the session ran without interruption and allowed the drivers to continue to rack up the laps.
Approaching the halfway point of the session, Sebastian improved to a 1.31.769 time on the Medium tyres for 14th, while Lance used the same compound to better his previous time to 1.31.393 and took 8th place.
Having collected more valuable insight into the AMR21, the focus is on further refining the set-up on Saturday morning ahead of the first qualifying session of the 2021 season.
Sebastian Vettel: “It’s very busy with less time in the practice sessions, but we were able to get a lot out of it.
“Every lap helps me get more used to the car and I’m able to find more of a rhythm. I’m still trying a lot of things and learning as I go, so I’m looking forward to going over the data and coming back tomorrow with the insights we have gained.
“The car was really promising in some corners and less so in others, but that’s normal at this stage of the season.
“We will work tonight to find a more consistent balance. As you can see, the midfield is very tight and everyone is learning quickly, but I hope we will be a factor.”
Lance Stroll: “It was great to be back in the car today and I’m excited to get racing again. Today was the first real indication of everyone’s performance and you can see that the middle of the grid is very close and competitive. It was a little tricky on track with the high winds - a bit like it was in testing at times.
“Today’s practice sessions also reminded me just how important it is to get the little details right, so we will work hard tonight and go over all the data to find improvements where we can.”
Otmar Szafnauer, CEO and Team Principal: “The practice sessions are shorter for everyone this year, but the goals are the same. It’s about making sure you’re able to complete your performance runs and race simulations.
“We made progress with both of those objectives, collected a large amount of information and have learned more about the car and its characteristics. We’ve made progress since we were here for testing, but the conditions were quite windy in the second session, and it’s still not easy to have a clear picture of where we sit in the pecking order just yet.
“On Sebastian’s side, he had a disrupted test, so it was about getting him as much track time as possible today.
“The more comfortable he is with the car, the more he can push. For Lance, it was a productive day and plenty of laps completed as we head into the weekend. We still need to improve our pace over a single lap and that’s one of the priorities as we prepare for final practice and qualifying tomorrow.”
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