World Champion Lewis Hamilton maintained his recent form as he led the way during Friday’s opening practice session for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton hit the front with a time of 1:04.838 in warm and sunny conditions at the Red Bull Ring, leaving him 0.144s clear of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel; Hamilton used the Soft tyres while Vettel was equipped with Mediums.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate and title opponent, Valtteri Bottas, was 0.161s down on the Briton, though ran the old-spec power unit after an oil leak was detected on his Phase 2 engine.
Charles Leclerc placed fourth for Ferrari, using Mediums, ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.
Verstappen led the way early on prior to the improvements made by the Mercedes/Ferrari quartet, while team-mate Gasly placed 0.118s down on the Dutchman, showing improved pace after recent issues.
Carlos Sainz Jr. maintained McLaren’s encouraging form as he took seventh, just 0.664s behind Hamilton, though will drop to the back of the grid on Sunday after taking on a fresh power unit.
Daniel Ricciardo was eighth for Renault, the first driver to lap over a second slower than Hamilton, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen ninth and McLaren’s Lando Norris capping the top 10.
Romain Grosjean was just 0.010s behind the McLaren rookie, with Toro Rosso pair Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon next up, in front of Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Sergio Perez (Racing Point).
Hulkenberg caused the session to be red-flagged three minutes ahead of schedule when he went wide through the penultimate corner.
Hulkenberg lost half of his front wing and Race Control opted to bring the session to a halt in order for the debris to be retrieved.
Alfa Romeo had a relatively subdued session after its improvements in France and placed a lowly 16th and 17th – Antonio Giovinazzi ahead of Kimi Raikkonen – with Lance Stroll 18th for Racing Point.
Williams finished at the rear of the pack, though George Russell classified just 0.049s behind Stroll, with Robert Kubica further adrift at the back.
Friday’s second 90-minute practice session is scheduled for 15:00 local time