Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver was a tenth faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with teammate Valtteri Bottas third.
The Red Bull Ring was always expected to favour the Mercedes; however, it was not an easy session for the five times champion. Hamilton struggling for grip as well as damaging his front wing. Mercedes should be even quicker when they set times on the soft compound. His time coming on the second set of softs.
Bottas, who has never been out-qualified at this circuit, was just behind Vettel in the other Mercedes. The Finn was about three hundredths further behind the German. Bottas had a delayed start to the session after Mercedes discovered an oil leak an hour before FP1 began, switching to the older-spec engine.
Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest a further tenth and a half behind his focus on development work.
Ferrari brought upgrades to the last race in France but after several of those new elements failed, the team confirmed that they were running ‘test items’ in Practice One in Austria to ‘understand exactly why some pieces didn’t work’ last weekend.
Max Verstappen was fifth four tenths off the pace, the Dutchman over a tenth faster than teammate Pierre Gasly. McLaren picked up where they left off on Sunday, Carlos Sainz seventh leading the midfield.
A number of drivers explored the limits of the Red Bull Ring, the most dramatic being Nico Hulkenberg. The Renault drivers drama began at Scholossgold when he ripped a side of his front wing off, more dramatic damage came when he shattered aero parts at the final Red Bull corner.
That brought out a brief red flag.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll also had a moment, having a big sideways snap on the exit of Turn Four, but he managed to catch the car and avoid an accident.
Sainz led the best of the rest, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and the second McLaren of Lando Norris. However, the Spaniard will start at the back, along with Alexander Albon will start at the back of the grid as a result of penalties for using too many engine parts after fitting upgraded engines.
Romain Grosjean was eleventh fastest, ahead of both the Toro Rosso’s with Daniil Kvyat a hundredth faster than teammate Alex Albon. The second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg was fourteenth.
Sergio Perez was fifteenth almost three tenths faster than teammate Lance Stroll, the Racing Point duo split by both the Alfa Romeo’s. Kimi Raikkonen two thousandths faster than Lance Stroll.
Williams appears to have closed the gap slightly, but George Russell remained half a second behind Stroll, with Robert Kubica almost a second further behind.