Lewis Hamilton edges Max Verstappen in opening practice for Austrian Grand Prix
Austrian Grand Prix - FP1

Lewis Hamilton edges Max Verstappen in opening practice for Austrian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton posted the quickest-ever lap of the Red Bull Ring to go fastest in opening practice, beating Max Verstappen by 0.190s.

Having lost victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix due to an issue with his headrest, Hamilton continued his impressive form from that weekend to go top on a 1:05.975. That time is already a big improvement on 2016's pole time -- which was set on a drying track in Austria -- and the Q2 benchmark of 1:06.228 set in dry conditions. The three-time world champion set his quickest time on the soft compound tyre, suggesting there is much more pace to come from the softer compounds.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen split the Mercedes drivers in second, 0.190s off Hamilton's lead time, on the super-soft tyre. Though its home circuit tends not to suit Red Bull's lack of power, the team was surprisingly competitive in Canada and Azerbaijan and the teenager's early pace will be enouraging. Verstappen had set a purple fastest opening sector in the closing moments of the sector, only to spin at Turn 3, meaning he did not get to complete the lap. He also was fortunate to escape with just minor damage to his right tyre after running off the circuit in the middle sector, running across the gravel and brushing the wall.

Valtteri Bottas finished third, 0.370s down on his teammate, in a session which saw him twice run off the circuit at Turn 1. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth, 0.449s off title rival Hamilton, and was one of the cars to spin early in the session after losing the rear of his car on the Turn 1 apex. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth ahead of the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who spun at Turn 3 (officially known as Turn 2 until this year's race) early in the session.

The biggest surprise of the session was the pace of Stoffel Vandoorne and McLaren. Not only did the Belgian outpace Fernando Alonso, but McLaren looked competitive with Honda's Spec-3 engine, which has been introduced ahead of the week. Though FP1 times can be misleading, it is an impressive start on a circuit where power is essential. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat finished ahead of Fernando Alonso, who ensured both McLaren's finished in the top ten. Both Vandoorne and Alonso's times were set on the ultra-soft tyre but, as Hamilton's own benchmark suggested, there does not seem to be a clear difference between the compounds at this early stage of the weekend.

Esteban Ocon was 10th for Force India, just 0.04s ahead of Williams' Felipe Massa, a team battle which looks set to be close all weekend. Kevin Magnussen was 12th, ahead of Carlos Sainz and the under-pressure Jolyon Palmer. After his maiden podium in Baku, Lance Stroll could only manage 15th and spun early on in the session at Turn 5. Romain Grosjean was 16th but lost some time when he clattered the kerbs heavily at the final sequence of corners, sustaining a right left puncture.

Sergey Sirotkin, replacing Renault's Nico Hulkenberg for the opening 90 minutes, was 17th, ahead of Force India stand-in Alfonso Celis. In the battle of the Saubers, Pascal Wehrlein finished 1.5s ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who only completed 12 laps after his car spent much of the session being worked on in the garage.

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

Related news

Tanak wins in Germany, Ogier back on top of standings

Tanak wins in Germany, Ogier back on top of standings

Ott Tanak clinched victory in Germany as his M-Sport Ford team-mate Sebastien Ogier rebuilt a 17-point World Rally Championship lead over Thierry Neuville.

Tanak maintains lead into final day of Rally Germany

Tanak maintains lead into final day of Rally Germany

Ott Tanak maintained his Rally Germany lead over Andreas Mikkelsen on Saturday afternoon, while Sebastien Ogier continued to stay in touch with the leaders.

Dovizioso resists Marquez for Austria win

Dovizioso resists Marquez for Austria win

Andrea Dovizioso scored his and Ducati's third win of the MotoGP season at the Red Bull Ring, seeing off Honda's Marc Marquez after a tense head-to-head duel.

Championship leader Marc Marquez claims third straight pole in Austria

Championship leader Marc Marquez claims third straight pole in Austria

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez claimed pole for the third straight MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Marquez seals third MotoGP win in Czech Grand Prix

Marquez seals third MotoGP win in Czech Grand Prix

Marc Marquez took a dominant third victory of the MotoGP season at Brno, timing his pitstop to perfection on a drying track to outfox his championship rivals.

Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to pole at Brno

Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to pole at Brno

Marc Marquez took his fourth pole position of the 2017 MotoGP season after edging Valentino Rossi by less than a tenth of a second in Czech Grand Prix qualifying at Brno.

Sebastian Vettel quickest as Robert Kubica enjoys impressive F1 return

Sebastian Vettel quickest as Robert Kubica enjoys impressive F1 return

Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari at the final day of F1's in-season testing, an event dominated by Robert Kubica's 149-lap return with Renault.

Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc tops opening Hungary test

Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc tops opening Hungary test

Ferrari academy driver Charles Leclerc picked up where Sebastian Vettel left off at the Hungarian Grand Prix by topping the order on the opening day of F1's second in-season test.

Sebastian Vettel wins tense Hungarian GP

Sebastian Vettel wins tense Hungarian GP

Sebastian Vettel claimed Ferrari's first win since May after holding firm under late pressure to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, a victory aided by teammate Kimi Raikkonen holding off a late charge from Lewis Hamilton.

RELATED NEWS

Tanak wins in Germany, Ogier back on top of standings
WRC Rally Germany

Tanak wins in Germany, Ogier back on top of standings

Ott Tanak clinched victory in Germany as his M-Sport Ford team-mate Sebastien Ogier rebuilt a 17-point World Rally Championship lead over Thierry Neuville.

Tanak maintains lead into final day of Rally Germany
WRC Rally Germany

Tanak maintains lead into final day of Rally Germany

Ott Tanak maintained his Rally Germany lead over Andreas Mikkelsen on Saturday afternoon, while Sebastien Ogier continued to stay in touch with the leaders.

Dovizioso resists Marquez for Austria win
Austrian Grand Prix

Dovizioso resists Marquez for Austria win

Andrea Dovizioso scored his and Ducati's third win of the MotoGP season at the Red Bull Ring, seeing off Honda's Marc Marquez after a tense head-to-head duel.

Championship leader Marc Marquez claims third straight pole in Austria
Austrian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Championship leader Marc Marquez claims third straight pole in Austria

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez claimed pole for the third straight MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Marquez seals third MotoGP win in Czech Grand Prix
Czech Grand Prix

Marquez seals third MotoGP win in Czech Grand Prix

Marc Marquez took a dominant third victory of the MotoGP season at Brno, timing his pitstop to perfection on a drying track to outfox his championship rivals.

Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to pole at Brno
Czech Grand Prix - Qualifying

Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to pole at Brno

Marc Marquez took his fourth pole position of the 2017 MotoGP season after edging Valentino Rossi by less than a tenth of a second in Czech Grand Prix qualifying at Brno.

Sebastian Vettel quickest as Robert Kubica enjoys impressive F1 return
Hungary test - Day 2

Sebastian Vettel quickest as Robert Kubica enjoys impressive F1 return

Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari at the final day of F1's in-season testing, an event dominated by Robert Kubica's 149-lap return with Renault.

Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc tops opening Hungary test
Hungary test

Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc tops opening Hungary test

Ferrari academy driver Charles Leclerc picked up where Sebastian Vettel left off at the Hungarian Grand Prix by topping the order on the opening day of F1's second in-season test.

Sebastian Vettel wins tense Hungarian GP
Hungarian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel wins tense Hungarian GP

Sebastian Vettel claimed Ferrari's first win since May after holding firm under late pressure to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, a victory aided by teammate Kimi Raikkonen holding off a late charge from Lewis Hamilton.