SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 29: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 in the Pitlane during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 29, 2018 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Austrian Grand Prix weekend started with Mercedes at the front in the first two practice sessions on Friday. Lewis Hamilton enjoyed great pace in his car and was able to be the fastest driver in both sessions. His Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, followed the English driver in second place.

Friday Free Practice Results

Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing managed to line up behind Mercedes: Ferrari in FP2 with Sebastian Vettel, and Red Bull with Max Verstappen in FP1. Vettel’s time in FP2 was 0.236 seconds slower, while Verstappen was 0.233 off Mercedes’ pace in FP1.

Mercedes is the team to beat at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the fifth straight year. The Silver Arrows won the last four races with three different drivers (Nico Rosberg in 2014 and 2015, Hamilton in 2016, and Bottas in 2017).

The main takeaways from both sessions were:

  • Hamilton’s fastest lap in FP2 was set with the soft tires, while Bottas used the supersoft in his flying laps.
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Pierre Gasly had a broken suspension in FP2, and the session was red-flagged halfway through. The Frenchman was able to return to the track at the end of the practice session.
  • Haas F1 was, once again, the fourth best team. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen lined up seventh and eighth.
  • The rain was a definite threat in FP1 and FP2, but it did not make its presence felt during track action.
  • Ferrari‘s Kimi Räikkönen had a quiet start to the weekend, with sixth place in FP1 (9 tenths off the leader’s pace) and sixth in FP2, with a six-tenth gap to Hamilton.

Conclusions

Mercedes in FP1 and Ferrari in FP2 showed its race pace. Hamilton was consistently in the 1:08.200s and had a 1:07.500s laptime in FP2, while Vettel was pretty close in lap times. Bottas was fast in the long runs, with consistent laps between 1:07.600s and 1:07.900s. Red Bull Racing drivers were not particularly fast in the long runs.
Results of FP1:

Results of FP2:

MAIN PHOTO:
Embed from Getty Images

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