Vettel sets practice pace amid gearbox dramas

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel emerged quickest in practice for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix despite a gearbox issue ending his day prematurely.

The Ferrari driver was restricted to just four laps in opening practice due to a transmission issue, but the four-time world champion bounced back by posting a second session best 1:09.600s on super soft tyres.

However, the German’s day was cut short when a gearbox sensor problem prompted the Ferrari team to halt his progress towards the end of Practice 2.

Mercedes was unable to display its familiar advantage over the rest of the field with Nico Rosberg trailing Vettel by 0.011s.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who topped the opening 90 minute hit-out, struggled to find his rhythm in the afternoon session, which saw the Brit end the day in fifth position.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen confirmed the Maranello team’s pace in third with his best run on the super soft rubber 0.260s adrift of his opposite number.

Lotus produced the surprise of Friday practice with Pastor Maldonado clocking a time good enough for fourth ahead of Hamilton.

Fresh from his victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest for Force India in front of the sister Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was eighth while Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.

Red Bull Racing couldn’t match the pace of its sister Toro Rosso team at its home event, with Daniil Kvyat 12th and Daniel Ricciardo a lowly 17th.

Reliability issues plagued McLaren yet again with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button forced to curtail their running with engine issues.

Alonso tested a new shorter nose in the session before being called back to the pits shortly after Button suffered a sudden loss of drive from his Honda power unit.

Result: Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix Practice 2

Position Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.600s 28
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:09.611s +0.011s 50
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:09.860s +0.260s 41
4 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1:09.914s +0.314s 44
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.137s +0.537s 49
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1:10.160s +0.560s 49
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1:10.267s +0.667s 38
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1:10.356s +0.756s 48
9 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1:10.495s +0.895s 39
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1:10.585s +0.985s 46
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1:10.631s +1.031s 50
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1:10.686s +1.086s 48
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1:10.744s +1.144s 40
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1:10.746s +1.146s 34
15 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1:11.011s +1.411s 42
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1:11.517s +1.917s 17
17 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1:11.676s +2.076s 38
18 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1:11.919s +2.319s 17
19 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1:12.522s +2.922s 34
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1:13.094s 3.494s 34

Result: Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix Practice 1

Position Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:10.401s 36
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.709s +0.308s 28
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:11.028s +0.627s 22
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1:11.452s +1.051s 26
5 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1:11.633s +1.232s 28
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1:11.642s +1.241s 31
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1:11.724s +1.323s 29
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1:11.825s +1.424s 38
9 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1:11.890s +1.489s 29
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1:11.905s +1.504s 37
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1:11.948s +1.547s 32
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1:12.004s +1.603s 34
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1:12.031s +1.630s 36
14 Jolyon Palmer Lotus/Mercedes 1:12.050s +1.649s 27
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1:12.159s +1.758s 30
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1:12.920s +2.519s 30
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1:13.272s +2.871s 10
18 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1:13.937s +3.536s 29
19 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1:15.459s +5.058s 11
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.684s 5.283s 4

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