With rain expected the start of P2 was busy as the entire grid got out for a quick run. And that was all it was as 8 minutes in the heavens opened and a deluge fell on the Red Bull Ring, quickly turning it into more of a waterslide than a race track.
Drivers were sliding all over the place as they fought to get back into the pits but eventually they all got home safely and effectively practice was cancelled for a good 30 minutes as the rain poured and then the teams waited for the track to dry out. Thankfully the drainage and the gradient around the track helped to get rid of a lot of the water quickly. Still, as the teams took to the circuit the difficulties of the tracks location came to the fore. Turn 2 was bone dry but the braking zone of 3 was wet. Turn 5 was dry but turn 8 and 9 at the bottom of the track was soaking, causing people even on the intermediate tyre to lose it. Max Verstappen had a spin and Sergio Perez had to take a lot of the run off area to get around safely.
With about 20 minutes to go the track was dry enough to get some slick tyre running in. Daniel Ricciardo quickly got on the radio to tell his engineers he had a throttle issue as Sebastian Vettel started putting some fast laps in on the ultra softs. In the sister Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen had the super softs on to try and give the team some data on the degradation rate of that compound. Likewise Mercedes split their drivers, with Lewis Hamilton getting the ultra soft run and Nico Rosberg doing a longer run with the super softs.
Hamilton set a purple sector one but the damper conditions later in the lap just stopped him from topping Rosberg’s time from before the rain came down.
Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India showed the car’s speed by putting himself in 3rd. With just 2 minutes to go Sebastian Vettel ended up beaching the Ferrari in the gravel trap at the top of turn two after the backend stepped out viciously under braking. The virtual safety car came down and ended the session.