Lewis Hamilton topped the times once again in the second practice for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was barely a tenth faster than the time set by his title rival Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton also bettered the time he had set during the morning by half a second. But the narrow gap between the two title drivers suggests that the fight this weekend could be close between the two teams. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was two tens of the pace.
However, the Finn was lucky that he managed to keep it out of the barriers. But it wasn’t plain sailing for both the Mercedes drivers. On Hamilton’s first long run started well, but then it was interrupted after just five laps with a faulty spark plug on the engine that the team only uses for Friday practice.
When Hamilton returned to do his long runs he managed to put a series of laps in the sixty-eight-second mark. However, he did not return to track costing him laps, however, the laps he did complete suggested that he has the quicker car on both the short and long runs.
The Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fourth and fifth respectively finishing ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. However, Räikkönen didn’t manage to set a really competitive lap in the session.
There were signs once again of encouragement for McLaren and Honda, who have an upgraded power unit for this weekend. Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest, despite spinning late in the session and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne twelfth.
But a spin at Turn Five, damaging his floor forcing him to sit out the rest of the session. Kevin Magnussen was seventh ahead of the McLaren, a tenth faster than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten in the second Haas.
There were others spinners as well with a number of drivers ran wide as they explored the limits of the cars on the slippery track.
Despite Williams bringing upgrades this weekend, the Williams appeared to struggle and were outside the top ten. With Felipe Massa only managing fourteenth and Lance Stroll sixteenth.
It was also a difficult session for Carlos Sainz who was fifteenth. The Spaniard damaged his car trying to re-join after he ran wide and across the grass. That damaged his floor which led to fluid dripping from his car ending his session.
Things weren’t getting better for Jolyon Palmer, the Renault drivers session was limited to seven laps because of another technical problem.
The two Sauber’s rounded out the times, with Pascal Wehrlein 0.088s faster than teammate Marcus Ericsson but a massive 3.299s off the pace of Hamilton’s best.