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Hamilton doubles up in Austrian GP Friday practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace on Friday in practice for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, the ninth round in the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, with the Briton quickest in both sessions at the Red Bull Ring.

Hamilton posted a 1 minute 05.975 second lap in the morning to leave him 0.190secs up on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas was third in the sister Mercedes.

The Englishman then set the standard in the afternoon too, lowering the marker to a 1m 05.483s, this time 0.147secs up on Championship leader and rival Sebastian Vettel. Bottas was again third, 0.216secs off the pace.

“It’s been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far,” said Hamilton.

“We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2, but the guys did a great job to turn the car around and we still managed to complete our programme.

“Most importantly, the car feels fantastically fast here. There’s already a nice balance and it feels good out on track. This car is so quick in comparison to what we raced here last year. It’s tricky, but a proper thrill to hook up a lap. The team is in good spirits and we’re all up for another exciting fight with the Ferraris this weekend.”

“Today we did a lot of laps and learnt a lot about the car,” Vettel added. “We had a good feel with it and that is what we need. So, we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.

“We understood the problems we had in Baku, but here it’s completely different. The weather and the asphalt temperature are not the same as they were there. Today it is still difficult to judge, but the car is very good and we made some improvements. We proceed step by step; tomorrow we’ll have another free practice session and then we’ll see”.

Meanwhile, Verstappen concluded the day fourth overall, despite brake issues at the start of FP2. Verstappen was one of a number of drivers to go off in FP1, along with the likes of Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas. FP2 was similarly littered with drivers running wide and/or spinning.

“This is not the highest grip track and with the higher speeds this year, if you have a moment, it is difficult to correct without hitting a kerb or going through the gravel which a lot of people have experienced today,” Verstappen said.

“The yellow kerbs were definitely a challenge and I think maybe they are not the type of kerbs for Formula 1, the cars just aren’t designed for it.

“We still have some work to do tonight as I’m not fully happy with the balance we had today but we are also not too far off.

“We always know that in qualifying Mercedes will turn up their engines and of course the weather here can change very quickly, so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”

Behind, Daniel Ricciardo took fifth in his Red Bull, although he missed some running at the end of FP2 due to a turbo issue.

Kimi Raikkonen was then sixth for Ferrari with the Haas F1 cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean seventh and tenth, sandwiching McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in P8 and P9.

Further back, Force India’s Esteban Ocon was P11, less than a tenth off Grosjean, and only 0.010secs up on Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat managed 13th – although a loss of power in the final 30 minutes and then a rear brake fire hindered his efforts.

Williams man Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz – in the other Toro Rosso – came in 14th and 15th, the latter suffering a leak after a big off at T10 in FP2.

Of the rest, Williams rookie Lance Stroll ended up 16th, while Sergio Perez (who spun in Turn 7 and had an off at Turn 10 in FP2 in his Force India) could do no better than 17th ahead of Jolyon Palmer and the Sauber’s of Pascal Wehrelin and Marcus Ericsson in positions 18 through to 20.

Palmer only did 7 laps in FP2 due to technical issues – initially thought to be engine related, although not yet confirmed as such by Renault.

In the morning Sergey Sirotkin and Alfonso Celis both got FP1 runs, replacing Hulkenberg and Perez respectively. Sirotkin was 17th and did 27 tours in his Renault, while Celis finished one spot back in P18, but only got 15 laps with Force India due to an electrical issue.

Practice 2 times available – HERE

Practice 1 times available – HERE

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