Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two again in Austrian GP practice

Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two again in Austrian GP practice

Formula 1

Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two again in Austrian GP practice

Mercedes secured another one-two result in the second practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton again topping the times.

After leading the way by 0.127s during the opening session, Hamilton was 0.176s clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas on Friday afternoon as Mercedes got to grips with a new aerodynamic update introduced at the Red Bull Ring. In setting a best lap of 1m04.579s — and on the soft compound tire — Hamilton was just 0.3s away from the pole time set by Bottas last year.

On a short lap, the Mercedes advantage over the rest of the field was less than a quarter of a second, with Sebastian Vettel leading the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. While the majority of runners used ultrasofts for the best times, Ricciardo posted his lap of 1m05.031s on the supersoft.

There were four teams within a second of Hamilton’s time, as the two Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were seventh and eighth respectively, with the latter posting a 1m05.559s. The one negative moment in the session for Haas came late on when Magnussen was released from a pit stop with a loose right-front tire, although the team was quick to message the Dane to ensure he did not leave the pit lane.

Pierre Gasly was ninth on supersofts but also hit trouble, causing a red flag just over half an hour into FP2. After running wide at Turn 9, the Toro Rosso driver appeared to suffer a left-front suspension failure on the curbs and went straight on at the final corner. Although he initially managed to stop the car in the run-off area, Gasly attempted to continue but then got stuck in the gravel trap, causing a red flag for five minutes while his car was recovered.

Despite the incident, Gasly was able to return to the track in the closing stages after the car was returned to the team’s garage, limiting how much running was lost.

Stoffel Vandoorne was 10th for McLaren, with half a second separating him from teammate Fernando Alonso down in 19th position. The Belgian driver had been involved in an incident during FP1 when his car was released into the path of Vettel, but after investigation he escaped personal punishment as the team was handed a €10,000 ($11,650) fine.

Sauber once again showed up well in the extremely competitive midfield, with Charles Leclerc 12th and Marcus Ericsson 14th, separated by the lead Force India of Esteban Ocon. Sergey Sirotkin was also up to speed quickly having handed his car to Robert Kubica for FP1, with the Russian 16th quickest, 0.3s clear of teammate Lance Stroll who was 20th.

-Chris Medland

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