The Styrian hills were alive with the sound of twenty Formula 1 cars and at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix’s first practice session it was Lewis Hamilton who predictably led the way for Mercedes-AMG.

The Englishman outpaced long-time rival Sebastian Vettel by just 0.144 seconds at the end of a 90-minute session run under the baking conditions that have hit much of continental Europe this week. Hamilton’s fastest lap time, a 1:04.838, was posted on the Soft compound Pirelli tyres, whereas Vettel’s lap in his Ferrari came on the Medium rubber.

Last year’s pole-winner Valtteri Bottas did not have the easiest of sessions, losing track time when an oil leak was discovered in his new-spec power unit which necessitated that he revert to his high-mileage older-spec motor for this session. Despite this, he ended the session third-quickest, just 0.161 seconds adrift at a circuit where he has historically been strong.

Charles Leclerc was fourth-fastest in the second Ferrari despite complaining of a “bizarre feeling” with his brakes. The Monégasque driver lapped quicker than the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, who reinstated the team’s mantle as the ‘third best’ outfit after being threatened by McLaren at last weekend’s French Grand Prix.

McLaren’s storng form continued, however, with Carlos Sainz Jr. lapping a little over half a second off Hamilton’s ultimate pace to finish seventh-fastest. The Spaniard will be starting Sunday’s race from the back of the grid, having taken on new Renault power unit elements this weekend – a similar fate awaits Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon, who will be receiving Honda’s ‘Spec 3’ power unit.

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth-fastest in the lead Renault, with teammate Nico Hülkenberg bringing out the red flags that would end the session. The German ran wide at Turn 9 in the final minutes and broke off the left-hand side of his front wing.

After what team boss Günther Steiner described as its worst performance in its history in France, the move to Austria showed a return to form for the Haas F1 Team. Kevin Magnussen was ninth-fastest, two spots ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean. With the American outfit having slipped to ninth in the Constructors’ Championship standings, it will be hoping that it can repeat its form last year where its cars finished fourth and fifth.

The Red Bull Ring’s simple and less aerodynamically demanding nature flattered the Williams FW42 and gave the Grove team one of its more competitive showings. Its two cars still sat at the bottom of the timesheets, but this time George Russell was able to post his fastest lap within two seconds of the ultimate pace; teammate Robert Kubica was almost a second slower than the British rookie.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:04.838 34
2. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:04.982 + 0.144 23
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:04.999 + 0.161 37
4. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:05.141 + 0.303 26
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:05.260 + 0.422 30
6. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing RB15 1:05.378 + 0.540 30
7. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:05.502 + 0.664 34
8. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:05.846 + 1.008 27
9. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:05.876 + 1.038 27
10. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:06.125 + 1.287 27
11. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:06.135 + 1.297 20
12. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:06.272 + 1.434 29
13. Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:06.285 + 1.447 32
14. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:06.383 + 1.545 30
15. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:06.457 + 1.619 36
16. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:06.708 + 1.870 30
17. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:06.729 + 1.891 23
18. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:06.756 + 1.918 29
19. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:06.805 + 1.967 28
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:07.665 + 2.827 28

Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

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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.