Lewis Hamilton beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas to top the first Free Practice two of the Formula 1 season – leading home a Mercedes AMG Petronas 1-2.
The British driver, aiming to match Michael Schumacher‘s record of seven word titles this season, found himself without a timed lap for the opening 25 minutes of the session before quickly usurping Bottas.
Hamilton was fastest of all by 0.197s, as he won the first battle of the 2020 season by ending Friday’s running on top.
In spite of his strong showing, Bottas complained of a lack of grip through the high speed corners -as he found himself trailing Hamilton at a circuit usually considered to be a happy hunting ground for the Finn.
While Mercedes led the field, it was the BWT Racing Point F1 Team car of Sergio Perez that was the best of the rest – albeit 0.641s adrift of the mighty Mercedes.
However, it should have been his team-mate Lance Stroll, who made a massive error on his qualifying simulation to end up seventh.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Mission Winnow Scuderia Ferrari – but the Italian giants seemed firmly apart of F1’s midfield battle as Charles Leclerc was a disappointing ninth – almost a second away from the benchmark pace.
Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five for DP World Renault F1 Team, ahead of his future McLaren F1 team-mate, Lando Norris who was sixth.
Max Verstappen was the lead Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in eighth, as the Milton Keynes squad ran under the radar for much of Friday’s running.
The Dutchman’s race pace was similar to that of Perez’s Racing Point in the sessions customary race runs.
Alex Albon completed the Red Bull duo in 13th – but the pairing received more headlines for a pair of spins throughout the session – with the Thai driver losing it through turn one, and Verstappen sliding it through the gravel in turn six.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Esteban Ocon were tenth and eleventh respectively, as Sainz broke a front wing on the notoriously aggressive kerbs in Spielberg.
Ocon also recovered well after his truncated morning running continued into the opening half an hour of this afternoon’s session.
Daniil Kvyat was twelfth – and was one of three drivers who spun at turn one – including the aforementioned Albon and rookie Nicholas Latifi.
Antonio Giovinazzi had a strong session to run fourteenth for Alfa Romeo – but more impressively he was six tenths clear of his more experienced team – mate, Kimi Raikkonen.
Haas F1 ran fifteenth and sixteenth, with Kevin Magnussen ahead of Romain Grosjean – the Frenchman survived a spin at turn three to recover well after missing most of the mornings running due to braking issues.
Pierre Gasly was the fourth of the Red Bull backed drivers in the Alpha Tauri in seventeenth, but his best lap time was done on the hard compound tyres, therefore, more will be in hand for the Frenchman.
George Russell was a promising eighteenth for Williams Racing, as they ran 1.821s off the leading pace.
More encouragingly, the 2018 Formula 2 champion outpaced Kimi Raikkonen, as the Finn languished down in nineteenth after a spin that was almost identical to Verstappen’s spin later in the session.
Finally, Latifi completed the field, with the Canadian driver almost a second off the pace of his team-mate as he got to grips with the FW43 on his Formula 1 debut.
The Austrian Grand Prix continues with Free Practice three and Qualifying on Saturday, and you can follow the whole weekend on the Checkered Flag.