Lewis Hamilton fastest despite encountering issues
Austrian Grand Prix - FP2

Lewis Hamilton fastest despite encountering issues

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions at the Austrian Grand Prix, setting a new lap record in the morning before improving again by nearly 0.5s in the afternoon.

His best time stood at 1:05.483 by the end of the day, 0.147s quicker than title rival Sebastian Vettel in second and 0.216s faster than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in third.

Despite showing impressive pace on both short and long runs, it wasn't all plain sailing for Mercedes as both cars encountered issues during the afternoon session. Hamilton's first long run started well with a series of laps in the low to mid 1:08s on the ultra-soft compound and high fuel, but it was interrupted after just five laps with a faulty spark plug on an aging engine that will not be used in the race.

Once a new spark plug had been fitted, Hamilton returned to the track for a series of laps in the high 1:08s (similar to Vettel's long run on ultra-softs) but quickly complained that something felt wrong with the car. He returned to the pits asking his team to "take out a whole load of front wing" but did not return to the track before the end of the session. Combined, Hamilton's issues cost him 17 laps of running to Vettel but the lap times suggest he has a potentially quicker car over both short and long runs.

Bottas' best three sectors combined would have set the ultimate fastest time of the afternoon, but he couldn't hook them together and on his second quick lap had a spin through the gravel at Turn 5. The incident damaged the floor of his car and as a result his long-run times were no match for Hamilton's. He pitted for a front wing flap adjust to help balance the car, but his times did not improve dramatically as a result. Oddly, a second pit stop to switch from the ultra-soft compound to the slower super-softs saw his times dip into the low 1:08s, although that may have been related to a lowering of the fuel load rather than an improvement in the car.

Outside the top three, Red Bull had a disjointed session as Max Verstappen's car was delayed leaving the garage due to a loose brake connector and then spent a period of time back in the pits midway through the session for setup changes. He returned to the track to set a quick lap 0.349s off Hamilton and 0.041s quicker than teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who also spent an extended period of time in the garage between his low- and high-fuel runs before an MGU-H issue brought his session to an early end.

Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari was 0.661s off Hamilton's pace before setting a series of underwhelming laps on the ultra-softs over a long run. He returned to the pits for a switch to the soft compound, which is not expected to make an appearance in the race, before another scrappy run well off the pace.

The remaining four places in the top ten had an unusual look, with no Mercedes customer teams and Fernando Alonso's McLaren -- powered by Honda's new spec-three engine -- in eighth. Alonso, who sat out of part of the session with a damaged floor and later spun at Turn 5, was 0.141s off Kevin Magnussen's Haas in seventh and 0.144s quicker than Nico Hulkenberg's Renault in ninth. Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten in the second Haas ahead of Esteban Ocon's Force India, Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren, Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso and Felipe Massa's Williams.

Carlos Sainz, in 15th, had one of the more dramatic moments of the session when he ran wide at Turn 9 and launched his car into the air as he attempted to rejoin the track from the grass. The incident caused damage to his car's floor and he returned to the pits with fluid dripping from the underside of his Toro Rosso -- his session over.

After his podium in Baku, Lance Stroll had to settle for the 16th fastest time ahead of Sergio Perez and Jolyon Palmer, whose bad luck continued with a session limited to just seven laps due to another technical issue on his Renault. The two Saubers rounded out the times, with Pascal Wehrlein 0.088s faster than teammate Marcus Ericsson but a massive 3.299s off the pace of Hamilton's best.

Betting on MOTOSPORTS? Bet365 are offering a 100% deposit bonus, up to £200 - find out more

Related news

Lewis Hamilton romps to Silverstone win, Sebastian Vettel seventh

Lewis Hamilton romps to Silverstone win, Sebastian Vettel seventh

Lewis Hamilton turned in a dominant performance to win a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix on Sunday and cut Sebastian Vettel's championship lead to one point.

Controversy as Lewis Hamilton keeps pole after blocking row

Controversy as Lewis Hamilton keeps pole after blocking row

Lewis Hamilton has kept his pole position for the British Grand Prix after being cleared of blocking Sebastien Grosjean by an FIA stewards' investigation.

Lewis Hamilton fastest in rain-hit final free practice

Lewis Hamilton fastest in rain-hit final free practice

Lewis Hamilton boosted his prospects of pole position at the British Grand Prix when he was fastest in final free practice at Silverstone on Saturday morning.

Bottas edges Hamilton in second practice at British Grand Prix

Bottas edges Hamilton in second practice at British Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas stayed on top in second practice for Formula 1's British Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by only 0.047 seconds.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in British GP practice

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in British GP practice

Formula One champions Mercedes made a statement of intent in British Grand Prix practice on Friday with Valtteri Bottas leading home favourite Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari were left far behind.

Bottas holds off Vettel to win in Austria

Bottas holds off Vettel to win in Austria

Valtteri Bottas held off a late charge from Sebastian Vettel to win the Austrian Grand Prix by just 0.6s, while Daniel Ricciardo pipped Lewis Hamilton to the final spot on the podium in third.

Valtteri Bottas beats Sebastian Vettel to Austria pole

Valtteri Bottas beats Sebastian Vettel to Austria pole

Valtteri Bottas edged Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to pole position by just 0.042s in Austria, while Lewis Hamilton will start from eighth on the grid when his gearbox change grid penalty is applied after qualifying third.

Vettel tops final practice as Hamilton suffers brake issue

Vettel tops final practice as Hamilton suffers brake issue

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton encountered more problems with his Mercedes.

RELATED NEWS

Lewis Hamilton romps to Silverstone win, Sebastian Vettel seventh
British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton romps to Silverstone win, Sebastian Vettel seventh

Lewis Hamilton turned in a dominant performance to win a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix on Sunday and cut Sebastian Vettel's championship lead to one point.

Controversy as Lewis Hamilton keeps pole after blocking row
British Grand Prix - Qualifying

Controversy as Lewis Hamilton keeps pole after blocking row

Lewis Hamilton has kept his pole position for the British Grand Prix after being cleared of blocking Sebastien Grosjean by an FIA stewards' investigation.

Lewis Hamilton fastest in rain-hit final free practice
British Grand Prix - FP3

Lewis Hamilton fastest in rain-hit final free practice

Lewis Hamilton boosted his prospects of pole position at the British Grand Prix when he was fastest in final free practice at Silverstone on Saturday morning.

Bottas edges Hamilton in second practice at British Grand Prix
British Grand Prix - FP2

Bottas edges Hamilton in second practice at British Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas stayed on top in second practice for Formula 1's British Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by only 0.047 seconds.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in British GP practice
British Grand Prix - FP1

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in British GP practice

Formula One champions Mercedes made a statement of intent in British Grand Prix practice on Friday with Valtteri Bottas leading home favourite Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari were left far behind.

Bottas holds off Vettel to win in Austria
Austrian Grand Prix

Bottas holds off Vettel to win in Austria

Valtteri Bottas held off a late charge from Sebastian Vettel to win the Austrian Grand Prix by just 0.6s, while Daniel Ricciardo pipped Lewis Hamilton to the final spot on the podium in third.

Valtteri Bottas beats Sebastian Vettel to Austria pole
Austrian Grand Prix - Qulifying

Valtteri Bottas beats Sebastian Vettel to Austria pole

Valtteri Bottas edged Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to pole position by just 0.042s in Austria, while Lewis Hamilton will start from eighth on the grid when his gearbox change grid penalty is applied after qualifying third.

Vettel tops final practice as Hamilton suffers brake issue
Austrian Grand Prix - FP3

Vettel tops final practice as Hamilton suffers brake issue

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton encountered more problems with his Mercedes.