Lewis Hamilton leads the way in first Austrian Grand Prix Practice
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News June 29, 2018 Updated: 9:31 AM PT
SPIELBERG, Austria — As race number two of F1’s first triple header gets underway, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took the first free practice of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton walks into the weekend with a 14pts lead ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship.
Surrounded by a beautiful green forest, which provide a backdrop for the race weekend, Hamilton finished 0.127s ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes continues to build on the upgraded power unit that was used at last weekend’s French Grand Prix, shifting their focus to aerodynamic as they tested an upgraded rear wing and sidepods.
“It’s really great to see the updates; the guys at the factory have been working so hard to bring quality components,” said Hamilton.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen,brings a army of orange with him this weekend, as thousands of Dutch fans have arrived to watch their fellow countryman. Verstappen finished 0.106s behind Bottas in third.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished fourth with Daniel Ricciardo in fifth after he damaged his front-left suspension, keeping him in the garage for the majority of the session.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen took sixth as both Ferrari drivers took things relatively easy during the session. Romain Grosjean finished seventh for Haas followed by the Force India of Esteban Ocon in eighth.
Charles Leclerc, who is enjoying a progressive rookie season having scored points in four of the last five races, finished ninth.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten splitting the two Saubers with Marcus Ericsson in 11th. Kevin Magnussen finished 12th in the second Haas followed by the Renault of Carlos Sainz in 13th. Renault has brought a few new goodies this weekend as they tested a new MGU-K system.
“We can make a big improvement on that for the rest of the weekend, especially if the track temperatures come up a little. The car ran reliably and the new MGU-K system works well. We have the information we need, now it’s about striking a better balance,” said Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell.
Sergio Perez finished 14th with the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg in 15th followed by the Williams of Lance Stroll in 16th.
The McLaren pair of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished 17th and 18th with Vandoorne running into a bit of trouble when he damaged his front wing after hitting the massive kerbs at Turn 10.
Brendon Hartley finished 19th while Williams reserve driver Robert Kubica spent time working on a number of setup changes and finished 20th.