Lewis Hamilton felt it was a straightforward practice day on Friday, although the reigning World Champion was amongst those to suffer front wing damage against the unforgiving kerbs around the Red Bull Ring.
The Mercedes AMG Motorsport driver was fastest overall in the morning session with the quickest time of the day of 1:04.838, but he was unable to better fourth in the afternoon, four-tenths of a second off the best time of the session set by Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton admits the current Formula 1 cars are ‘seriously quick’ around large proportions of the Red Bull Ring track, even around some turns that haven’t usually been flat out in previous years.
“It was a clean day for me with no major issues, although I broke a couple of front wings on the kerbs like a lot of other drivers,” said Hamilton.
“We are flat out for a large portion of the lap this year – even corners like Turns 6 and 7, Turn 9 and the last corner are seriously quick in these cars – and we have been tickling the set-up all day to improve it.”
Hamilton is expecting a close battle at the front of the field involving both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, and he knows Mercedes have their work cut out if they want to lock out the front row and take a ninth consecutive victory of 2019.
“Ferrari and Red Bull look quick, particularly Ferrari, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out tomorrow,” said Hamilton. “This is one of those circuits where the times are always very, very close and small margins make the difference; that’s a positive because it means we will have our work cut out.
“But that’s okay: we will keep fighting and this is a circuit where you can follow other cars, so hopefully the tyres will be durable as well.”