Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in setting the Friday practice pace at Formula 1’s belated season-opening grand prix in Austria.
Hamilton was the only driver to get into the 1:04s in both 90-minute sessions at the Red Bull Ring, with Bottas next-best in each.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez drove what some have dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’ to third-fastest, albeit more than six tenths off the pace of the quicker of the new-look black Mercedes.
Hamilton’s benchmark came just before halfway through Practice 2, with a set of new soft compound tyres bolted onto Car #44.
His 1:04.304s usurped Bottas’ 1:04.501s in the sister car, set almost 10 minutes earlier, with no subsequent advance by the Finn either.
Perez had a scare in Practice 1 when his RP20 puffed smoke, although the Mexican was sent back out soon enough after his crew attended to Car #11 in the garage.
Having clocked a 1:05.512s in that session, Perez was first into the 1:04s during Practice 2 with the 1:04.945s just beyond the half-hour mark which ended up being his best.
Sebastian Vettel ended up fourth-fastest courtesy of the 1:04.961s which he clocked moments later in his Ferrari.
Just as the rest of the top 16 in the session had done, the German set his quickest lap on the softest available compound, the C4, but he struggled under brakes with hards fitted late in the session.
Daniel Ricciardo led the way for Renault with a 1:04.972s in a low-key session for the Australian, who did not set a time in the first half-hour.
Rounding out the top 10 for Practice 2 and combined times were Lando Norris (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Racing Point), Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), and Carlos Sainz (McLaren).
Verstappen had one of the more eventful days, with a spin exiting Turn 1 during the morning session, then a tour of the gravel lining Turn 5 in the afternoon.
The Dutchman wasn’t alone on either count, with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi looping their cars at the first corner in Practice 2.
Daniil Kvyat rotated his AlphaTauri at Turn 10 in the earlier session and snapped into a spin at Turn 1 in the latter session, while Romain Grosjean (Haas) found himself facing the wrong way in his Haas at Turn 3 in the final half-hour of proceedings.
Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) also ran off at Turn 5 in the first half of Practice 2.
Hamilton’s pace-setter in Practice 1, which was run in particularly overcast conditions and even featured a brief period of light rain around 15 minutes in, was a 1:04.816s.
That session also saw a Virtual Safety Car intervention to retrieve a piece of bodywork shed by Esteban Ocon’s Renault, before the Frenchman set a time in the afternoon good enough for 11th fastest all told.
Practice 3 for the Austrian Grand Prix starts at 20:00 AEST on Saturday, and Qualifying from 23:00.
Results: Practice 1
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:05.418||+0.602|
|4||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:05.431||+0.615|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:05.512||+0.696|
|6||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:05.621||+0.805|
|7||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:05.701||+0.885|
|9||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:05.907||+1.091|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:06.074||+1.258|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:06.360||+1.544|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:06.365||+1.549|
|16||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:06.404||+1.588|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:06.495||+1.679|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:06.906||+2.090|
|19||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||1:06.943||+2.127|
|20||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:46.361||+41.545|
Results: Practice 2
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:04.945||+0.641|
|6||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:05.087||+0.783|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:05.135||+0.831|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:05.215||+0.911|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:05.352||+1.048|
|12||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||1:05.443||+1.139|
|13||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:05.453||+1.149|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:05.608||+1.304|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:05.678||+1.374|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:05.908||+1.604|
|17||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:06.016||+1.712|
|18||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:06.125||+1.821|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:06.278||+1.974|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:07.124||+2.820|