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Hamilton fastest twice as Mercedes dominate Austrian practice

Sat, 30 Jun 2018
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Spielberg, Austria: Lewis Hamilton gave his Mercedes team a vote of thanks on Friday after he headed Valtteri Bottas twice in a commanding one-two at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The championship leading Briton and his Finnish team-mate were fastest in both practice sessions on the debut of their upgraded aerodynamic package, just a week after introducing a revised engine.

"It's been a good day -- pretty straightforward with no real issues," said Hamilton, who leads nearest rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 14 points in the title race.

"There are not many corners here in Austria. It's a very fast track and it's very close between all the tyres.

"The harder tyre seems to be the better for me. And it's really great to see the updates here -- the guys at the factory have been working so hard to bring quality components.

"The car feels better in certain areas around the track which is already a step forward from last week. It feels good overall and I am going to keep pushing, trying to maximise a bit more out of it."

Five days after his triumph in last Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Castellet, the 33-year-old clocked a best lap time of one minute and 4.579 seconds in the afternoon's second session at the Red Bull Ring circuit.

That was enough for him to be 0.176 seconds quicker than Bottas and 0.236 seconds faster than fellow four-time champion Vettel, who was third.

Bottas also praised Mercedes, who have won every race in Austria since it rejoined the calendar in 2014, for the updates package.

"The initial feeling is that they work well. The team has done a really good job -- every single person in the team has worked really hard on them."

Vettel, who has yet to top the times in any Friday session this year, said: "It's quite close. I think Mercedes had the upper hand today, they looked very quick in all conditions, but I think it was a tricky Friday.

"We did a lot of laps, which was good, and we should be well prepared for tomorrow and also for Sunday."

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who will 29 on Sunday, was fourth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen with Kimi Raikkonen sixth in the second Ferrari.

Verstappen revealed that he had completed the session with a damaged floor.

"Something broke off the inside of the floor so, in my second practice session, I had to run with a floor that was a little bit cut, let's say it like that.

"Anyway, it was an old floor. We'll have a new one tomorrow, but we were a bit limited by that."

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Frustrated and luckless two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who won the Le Mans 24-Hours race with Toyota two weekends ago, was 19th in the second McLaren.

The session was interrupted by one red flag -- for four minutes -- when Gasly ran over the 'sausage' kerbs at the final corner of the short power-orientated circuit.

"I broke the suspension on the kerbs," he said.

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