SPIELBERG, Austria – Lewis Hamilton headed the speed charts during a dramatic opening day of practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday at the Red Bull Ring.
Hamilton toured the 2.683-mile, 10-turn circuit in 1:04.838 with his No. 44 Mercedes F1 W10 EQ Power+ during the first of two free practice sessions of Friday.
The five-time World Champion and current point leader went fastest as a myriad of issues plagued his rivals during the second round of practice.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed at turn six, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen endured a heavy shunt at turn 10 and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel spun in nearly the same spot as Verstappen’s incident.
None of that was of any consequence to Hamilton, however, who ended up with the fastest time overall and had a drama-free day as he seeks his seventh win in nine races this season.
“It was a clean day for me with no major issues, although I broke a couple of front wings on the curbs like a lot of other drivers,” said Hamilton. “We are flat out for a large portion of the lap this year – even corners like turns six and seven, turn nine and the last corner are seriously quick in these cars – and we have been tickling the set-up all day to improve it.
“Ferrari and Red Bull look quick, particularly Ferrari, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out tomorrow,” Hamilton added. “This is one of those circuits where the times are always very, very close and small margins make the difference; that’s a positive because it means we will have our work cut out for us. That’s okay, though. We will keep fighting … and this is a circuit where you can follow other cars, so hopefully the tires will be durable as well.”
Despite his spin, Vettel’s FP1 time of 1:04.982 was good enough to be second fastest for the day, with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc leading FP2 and ending up fourth overall at 1:05.086.
Bottas split the two Ferraris in third on the combined speed charts, with a lap of 1:04.999, while Verstappen completed the top five with his opening practice lap of 1:05.260.
The second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly was sixth, followed by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.