Austrian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest time in opening practice at the Red Bull Ring, leading Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by a tenth of a second.
The opening practice session at the short Austrian circuit got underway at 11am local time, taking place on a very hot and clear morning with track temperatures touching off 50 degrees.
After a quiet start to the session for Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes swapped out his newer Spec 2 engine for an older Spec 1 after developing a misfire towards the end of last weekend’s French Grand Prix, Bottas showed some good pace to put in a 1:04.999 on the Soft tyre.
Both Mercedes drivers used the Soft tyre to put in their fastest times, with Lewis Hamilton eventually setting the fastest time of 1:04.838 in the closing twenty minutes. This was enough to keep him 0.144 clear of Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver had a quiet opening hour, languishing down in P11 when he came out on the Medium tyres. He proceeded to put in a 1:04.982 on his second flying lap, having made an error at Turn 1 on the first attempt. Charles Leclerc was just over 0.150 slower than his teammate and finished P4.
The Red Bulls were up next. At their home circuit, Max Verstappen led their charge and finished with a 1:05.260 on the Soft tyre, 0.422 behind Hamilton’s fastest time. Pierre Gasly was just over a tenth further behind his teammate, also using the Soft tyre.
McLaren continued to show strong form as Carlos Sainz took P7 and was just a tenth behind Gasly, but a more significant 0.3 clear of Renault’s lead driver Daniel Ricciardo in P8. Kevin Magnussen was P9 for Haas, suggesting this could be a stronger weekend for the American team than we’ve seen recently, while Lando Norris took P10 for McLaren.
Romain Grosjean finished P11 for Haas, ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso. Just 0.013 separated the two Toro Rossos as Alex Albon finally got his chance to take the upgraded Spec 3 Honda power unit and finished P13. Nico Hulkenberg was P14 but ruined his front wing on the kerbing at the penultimate corner near the end of the session. Scattering debris all over the track, this brought out the red flags to conclude the session two minutes early.
Sergio Perez finished P15 for Racing Point, with the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen P16 & P17 respectively. Lance Stroll was P18 in the second Racing Point, with the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica wrapping up the order.