Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Austrian practice

Tanya Simon
June 30, 2018

The championship leader had hit out at the five-second penalty that his rival was given after driving his Ferrari into his own Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes auto on the opening lap of the French Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion, who won last time out and France and now leads the drivers' standings by 14 points from arch-rival Sebastian Vettel, was still in the process of learning more about the updates implemented on his auto, but still expressed his excitement about the improvements in store. Being such a short lap, the sessions feel very busy with little room to breathe between laps and runs - it's also quite a technical track so it's beneficial to give the drivers as many laps as possible. Hamilton's 1:04.579 was set on the soft compound and included a middle sector 0.244s faster than Bottas' best effort on the ultra-soft as well as final sector 0.236s faster than Vettel using the fastest compound.

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen was best of the rest in the first session, at a circuit owned by the energy drink company, but slipped back to fifth later on and behind Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

"Today was a bit average", he said.

Verstappen thinks the damage occurred from vibrations sustained from travelling along the inside kerbs of the track at Spielberg. We lost a bit of track time with Gasly's auto in the afternoon, but apart from that, it was a straightforward day, as the rain we had expected in FP2 did not materialise.

Mercedes had brought their new, upgraded engine to France, one race later than Ferrari had introduced their power unit in Canada.

"The auto felt immediately better coming out of the garage in FP1".

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Verstappen is hoping to build on his second place at last week's French Grand Prix and has vowed to make up for last year's disappointment at the Austrian GP.

The only question now is can Red Bull crash the party...

Charles Leclerc calls driving for Ferrari a "dream" should any move of the sort materialise.

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.

Williams tester Robert Kubica took over Sergey Sirotkin's FW41 for the second of three planned FP1 outings but was rooted to the bottom of the timesheets, half a second behind nearest rival Hartley.

McLaren had another lacklustre day, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 17th and 18th respectively in the opening session, although the Spaniard was testing aerodynamic details.

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