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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel top in Austrian Grand Prix practice

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel top in Austrian Grand Prix practice

Hamilton makes mistakes, McLaren struggle in Austrian GP



By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 20 Jun 2015, 12:52 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

Sebastian Vettel during the first practice session at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria. — AFP

Sebastian Vettel during the first practice session at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria. — AFP

Spielberg — Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was first and last in Austrian Grand Prix practice on a Friday that team principal Maurizio Arrivabene will not forget in a hurry after nearly being run over by Felipe Massa. Vettel completed only four laps in the morning session before pulling over with a gearbox problem but he did 28 in the afternoon and ended the day with the fastest lap of one minute 09.600 seconds.

Fellow-German Nico Rosberg, last year’s winner who set the pace for Mercedes before lunch, was second with a time just 0.11 slower than the four times champion on an afternoon with occasional spots of rain and sporadic sunshine.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in both sessions.

If that put a smile on Arrivabene’s face, it made up for the shock he showed when he tried to cross the pitlane just as former Ferrari driver Massa was being released from the Williams garage. As the Brazilian braked, the Italian jumped back and then saluted him with both men able to laugh off the scare afterwards.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has yet to win in Austria, was second fastest in the morning but only fifth in the afternoon after making a series of errors. The Briton sounded tetchy on the team radio in the first session when his time was 0.308 slower than Rosberg’s.

“How many changes do you guys want me to do, can I just focus on driving?,” the 30-year-old said over the team radio in response to one request. Several drivers, including Hamilton, ran off at the penultimate corner on an overcast day after a damp start to the morning.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, with a big upgrade on his car but an even bigger 20 place grid penalty coming his way after changes to the engine, was only 17th and 16th fastest respectively. The Spaniard’s car broke down before he had done a lap and he was confined to the garage until the final 15 minutes of the first session.

Both McLarens were then stopped well before the end of the afternoon with Jenson Button reporting a ‘massive’ lack of power.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest for Mercedes-powered Williams in the morning, at the track where the Finn took his first podium finish last year, but dropped to 14th in the second stint as the team focused on high fuel runs. 


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