Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas have led the field in the opening practice session at the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Fresh from his victory last weekend in France, Hamilton edged Bottas by just over one-tenth of a second at the end of a busy 90-minute session at the Red Bull Ring. Max Verstappen beat Hamilton’s chief championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, into third place on the time sheets.

Verstappen was the first driver to post a lap time during the session and was also the first to spin in the low-grip conditions, looping his Red Bull into a neat 360° twirl at Turn 4 after dropping two wheels into the gravel at the exit of the right-hander. He was able to continue without any significant damage to his car.

The Mercedes runners moved to the top of the time sheets once the field began running on Supersoft tyres in earnest, as both Hamilton and Bottas lapping in the 1m05s range before they were split by Vettel’s Ferrari.

Bottas and then Hamilton switched to the Ultrasoft rubber, with the Finn moving provisionally quickest on a 1:05.354 before he was beaten by Hamilton who lapped a full three-tenths of a second faster.

Vettel again split the Mercedes with he and Bottas trading times in their own private battle for P2, before Verstappen clocked a 1:05.072 on a fresh set of Ultrasoft tyres to slot into second place.

Thoughts of a tight fight among the ‘big three’ teams were then resolved as both Mercedes runners reestablished themselves at the top, with Hamilton posting a 1:04.839 time and Bottas just 0.127 seconds adrift.

Verstappen’s best time proved just enough to keep him ahead of Vettel, while their respective teammates trailed by some margin. Daniel Ricciardo put the second RB14 fifth-fastest, four-tenths slower than Verstappen, with Kimi Räikkönen sixth-fastest in the second Ferrari.

Ricciardo was one of the quickest cars on the harder tyre compounds available this weekend, but lost valuable track time when he clobbered a kerb and had to pit so his mechanics could check over his car for potential damage.

Romain Grosjean led the ‘best of the rest’ charge among the midfield runners at a track where the Haas Ferrari VF-18 is expected to do well. The Frenchman – still complaining about the five-second penalty he was issued for running his compatriot Esteban Ocon off-track at the start of his home race last weekend – outpaced the Force India driver by just 0.027 seconds. Both drivers only ran on Pirelli’s Supersoft tyres.

Sauber’s improving mid-season form continued as Charles Leclerc and teammate Marcus Ericsson finished ninth and eleventh-fastest respectively. They were split by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who lost a piece of front wing when he ran wide over the kerbs at the penultimate corner.

McLaren’s recent struggles appear set to continue, with the team’s drivers well down the time sheets. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 18th-fastest, one place behind teammate Fernando Alonso, and caused significant front-end damage to his MCL33 when he ran wide between the last two corners.

The McLaren duo was quicker only than Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Williams reserve driver Robert Kubica, who was slowest of all in his second FP1 outing of the season.

Friday’s second practice session takes place at 15:00 local time (GMT +2).

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:04.839 39
2. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:04.966 + 0.127 39
3. Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:05.072 + 0.233 42
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:05.180 + 0.341 29
5. Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:05.483 + 0.644 22
6. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:05.776 + 0.937 31
7. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:06.028 + 1.189 31
8. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:06.055 + 1.216 40
9. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:06.215 + 1.376 31
10. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:06.394 + 1.555 36
11. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:06.400 + 1.561 32
12. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:06.404 + 1.565 23
13. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:06.427 + 1.588 29
14. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:06.455 + 1.616 42
15. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:06.479 + 1.640 35
16. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:06.567 + 1.728 32
17. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:06.612 + 1.773 30
18. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:06.698 + 1.859 30
19. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:06.871 + 2.032 45
20. Robert Kubica Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:07.424 + 2.585 38

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.