Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in France by completing a practice double for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton is back in charge of the championship, and he was fastest in both sessions at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring on Friday.
The British driver, who is 14 points clear of Sebastian Vettel following his win at the Paul Ricard Circuit last weekend, finished clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas on a dominant day for the world champions.
Vettel placed third for Ferrari, two tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton, with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen fourth and fifth.
Mercedes have brought a heavily-updated car with them to the second instalment of F1’s triple header, and it had the desired effect.
Hamilton set a best time of one minute and 04.579 seconds, only marginally slower than last year’s pole positon lap, with Bottas not far behind.
Hamilton also posted his quickest effort on the hardest tyre compound available to the teams this weekend to suggest there is more time to come.
Mercedes have not lost a race in Austria since the grand prix returned here in 2014. Indeed, Hamilton and team-mate Bottas, who triumphed last year, are the only active drivers to have won at the Red Bull Ring.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “I’m happy with how today went. Austria has been a kind track on us in the past.
“But you can see that there are three teams capable of putting the car on the front row. There are just a few hundredths or tenths between us. I have no doubt that tomorrow in qualifying that story will continue.”
For Vettel, who will be seeking to avenge his first-corner crash with Bottas in France, there is work to do.
The same can also be said for McLaren and their star driver Fernando Alonso. His floor had to be replaced after he ran over the kerbs and he finished a dismal 19th of the 20 runners.
The session was also red-flagged when Pierre Gasly crashed out. The Frenchman lost control of his Toro Rosso at the penultimate corner, braking his suspension, and ending up beached in the gravel.
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