Lewis Hamilton set the fastest-ever lap of the Red Bull Ring as he powered into early command of practice for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Until this morning Hamilton’s own 2016 Q2 lap of 1:06.228 had stood as the marker for quickest lap on the Styrian track but the three-time championship brushed past that time in the second half of this morning’s opening practice session at the Spielberg circuit, lapping in 1:05.975 on the soft tyres, the hardest of the three compounds on offer this weekend.
Hamilton’s soft-tyre time was three tenths clear of the best effort of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, though the Dutch driver had to step up the Pirelli order of softness, bolting on supersoft tyres to bypass the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and set a time of 1:06.165. Bottas’ best time of 1:06.345 was also set on supersoft tyres.
On home soil for Red Bull, Verstappen set the early pace on soft tyres but the Mercedes drivers lowered the benchmark with an early sampling of the ultrasoft tyres.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel also joined the action but the Ferrari driver had a nervous moment when he spun after clipping the inside of a kerb in Turn 1. Escaping without damage the German then briefly took over at the top of the timesheet before being deposed by Bottas and then by Hamilton.
Bottas later used the supersoft to return to top spot but then Hamilton switched to the softs and vaulted past his team-mate. Late in the session, Verstappen opted for supersofts and after chipping away at his own lap time he then bypassed Bottas to claim P2. He, too, then had a spin, at Turn 3, as the clock ran out on the session.
With Vettel fourth, fifth place in the session went to Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull RB13. The Australian was 0.6s off Hamilton and just under half a second shy of team-mate Verstappen’s time.
Kimi Räikkönen took sixth place for Ferrari, the Finn finishing 0.435s ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who used ultrasoft tyres and Honda’s latest PU version to put a gloss on McLaren’s start to the weekend. Daniil Kvyat was eighth for Toro Rosso ahead of Fernando Alonso in the second McLaren, with Esteban Ocon in tenth place for Force India.
2017 Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 37 1:05.975
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 22 1:06.165 0.190
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 34 1:06.345 0.370
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 27 1:06.424 0.449
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 31 1:06.620 0.645
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 24 1:06.848 0.873
7 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 30 1:07.283 1.308
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 30 1:07.437 1.462
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 28 1:07.510 1.535
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 39 1:07.511 1.536
11 Felipe Massa Williams 29 1:07.550 1.575
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30 1:07.594 1.619
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 31 1:07.633 1.658
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault 30 1:07.649 1.674
15 Lance Stroll Williams 34 1:08.041 2.066
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 20 1:08.074 2.099
17 Sergey Sirotkin Renault 26 1:08.586 2.611
18 Alfonso Celis Jr. Force India 15 1:09.280 3.305
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 28 1:09.323 3.348
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 12 1:10.853 4.878