Mercedes dominates Friday practice for Austrian GP
Spielberg, Austria - Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday, with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel third fastest. Hamilton, who has a 14-point lead over Vettel after eight races, lapped the Red Bull Ring with a best time of 1m04.579s in the late afternoon despite being on the hardest tyre available.
He had also been quickest in the overcast opening session in 1:04.839; Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was second in both, at 0.127s and 0.176s slower respectively. Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the best of the rest in the first session, at a circuit owned by Red Bull, but slipped back to fifth later on behind Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Mercedes brought an aerodynamic upgrade to Austria, after a new engine was introduced at the previous race in France which Hamilton won, and looked again to be a step ahead of their rivals. The reigning champion has won every race at Spielberg since Austria returned to the calendar in 2014.
Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari filled the top six places on the timesheets in both sessions, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen sixth in both. French driver Romain Grosjean - who has yet to score a point this season - was seventh in both on a promising day for the US-owned Haas team.
Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc, who has been impressive in the Sauber and is seen as a likely replacement for Raikkonen at Ferrari, continued his strong form with the ninth and 12th best times, while Honda-powered Toro Rosso had Pierre Gasly inside the top 10 in both sessions, although he damaged the car's suspension in the second stint.
Poland's Robert Kubica made a Friday appearance for Williams, replacing race regular Sergey Sirotkin for the morning only, but was the slowest man on track with a lap of 1m07.424s.
McLaren had another lacklustre day, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 17th and 18th respectively in the opening session, although Alonso seemed to be mostly testing aerodynamic details. Alonso dropped to 19th in the later practice, with only Canadian Lance Stroll slower in the Williams. Former champion McLaren says it knows it has an aerodynamic problem but cannot fix it in the wind tunnel, meaning it has to try out potential solutions on race weekends instead.
RESULTS - First Session
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 1m04.839s
2 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.127s
3 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.233
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.341
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0.644
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0.937
7 Romain Grosjean (Haas) +1.189
8 Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1.216
9 Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +1.376
10 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1.555
11 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1.561
12 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1.565
13 Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1.588
14 Sergio Perez (Force India) +1.616
15 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1.640
16 Lance Stroll (Williams) +1.728
17 Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1.773
18 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) +1.859
19 Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) +2.032
20 Robert Kubica (Williams) +2.585
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m04.579s
2 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.176s
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.236
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0.452
5 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.546
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0.686
7 Romain Grosjean (Haas) +0.850
8 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.980
9 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1.179
10 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) +1.351
11 Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1.420
12 Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +1.517
13 Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1.554
14 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1.620
15 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1.694
16 Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) +1.747
17 Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) +1.753
18 Sergio Perez (Force India) +1.775
19 Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1.850
20 Lance Stroll (Williams) +2.047Reuters