Austria FP1: Hamilton fastest chased by Verstappen

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton edged out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as he set as the fastest lap in the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.

With Pirelli soft tyres bolted on to his Mercedes – the hardest of the three compounds available at Red Bull Ring – Hamilton set the fastest lap of 1:05.975, the time ever recorded on the current layout of the Spielberg circuit to go 0.190 of a second clear of Verstappen, whose best time was set using supersofts.

Verstappen was in feisty spirit on Red Bull’s home track, but tapped the barriers early in the session after going off at Turn 7, was on course to top Hamilton late in the 90 minutes session before a spin at Turn 3.

The picturesque venue, nestled amid rolling hills and forests, seemed slippery despite warm morning temperatures.

Verstappen, Haas driver Romain Grosjean, and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. wobbled on Turn One – as did Hamilton late on in the session.

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest in the other Mercedes, fractionally faster than championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, one of several drivers to spin during the session.

Kimi Raikkonen also lost control of his Ferrari, albeit with no damage, finishing sixth behind the Red Bull of Baku winner Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren enjoyed a positive session with their Spec-3 Honda engine allowing Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso to end the session seventh and ninth respectively, with Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso sandwiched between the pair on the timing screens.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten, while Alfonso Celis did duty at the wheel of Sergio Perez’s car during FP1, he was 18th on the timing sheets.

Also sitting out the session was Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who handed his car to Sergey Sirotkin for the morning session. The Russian ending 17th fastest half a second down on Jolyon Palmer in the other Renault who was 14th.

The top six were separated by just over half a second, suggesting a tight contest is on the cards in Austria, although Hamilton’s time set on softs will have sent out an ominous signal to his rivals.

Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring – Free Practice 1, Fastest Lap Times

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:05.975   38
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:06.165 +0.190s 23
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:06.345 +0.370s 35
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:06.424 +0.449s 28
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:06.620 +0.645s 32
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:06.848 +0.873s 24
7 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN HONDA 1:07.283 +1.308s 31
8 26 Daniil Kvyat TORO ROSSO 1:07.437 +1.462s 31
9 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:07.510 +1.535s 28
10 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:07.511 +1.536s 39
11 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:07.550 +1.575s 29
12 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:07.594 +1.619s 30
13 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO 1:07.633 +1.658s 32
14 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 1:07.649 +1.674s 31
15 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:08.041 +2.066s 35
16 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:08.074 +2.099s 20
17 46 Sergey Sirotkin RENAULT 1:08.586 +2.611s 27
18 34 Alfonso Celis FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:09.280 +3.305s 15
19 94 Pascal Wehrlein SAUBER FERRARI 1:09.323 +3.348s 29
20 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:10.853 +4.878s 12