Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man in Austria today as he topped both practice sessions ahead of this weekends race, breaking the lap record in both.
Hamilton was just a few tenths ahead of Max Verstappen in the morning session, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top three having set his lap time on the Super Soft tyres – his team mate doing so on the Soft compound. Hamilton’s 1m05.975s was duly beaten in the second practice session by five tenths of a second, when Bottas finished third fastest again behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who was second quickest.
The story of the session was mainly drivers running wide as they pushed the limits of the circuit, although this time it wasn’t down to tyre warmup temperatures like in Baku. Instead it looked like they were struggling with the kerbs, with some drivers spinning at the first corner including Bottas, Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Verstappen also spun off into the gravel at Turn 8, damaging his rear right tyre as he clipped the barrier trying to recover his Red Bull. Romain Grosjean also punctured his front left tyre on the kerbs at Turns 9 and 10, which have been slightly lowered in order to accommodate MotoGP this year.
Sergey Sirotkin and Alfonso Celis Jr were in at Renault and Force India for the morning session, Sirotkin being the only one to see out the entirety of the session and going 17th quickest, after Celis Jr dropped out of the session with 20 minutes to go due to an electrical problem finishing 18th quickest.
In the afternoon more drivers were having adventures through the gravel at Turn 6, namely Bottas who spun across onto the escape road and Fernando Alonso who damaged his floor in the process. He finished the session eighth quickest which is good signs for McLaren as Honda have brought engine updates to this weekends race.
Carlos Sainz, who has caused a bit of a stir with Red Bull after stating that he want’s to leave Toro Rosso for 2018, finished his session early after clipping the kerb rejoining the circuit at Turn 9. That damaged his floor and caused a leak, although that was only with 20 minutes of the session left.
Latest winner Daniel Ricciardo also ended his day early with a turbo problem at Red Bull, while Jolyon Palmer encountered yet more engine issues in his Renault having only completed 7 laps. Luckily he was able to run in the morning, although it is yet again more issues for the Brit who had a torrid weekend in Baku last time out.