Hamilton fastest in Austrian Grand Prix first practice


Lewis Hamilton was fastest in his Mercedes in the first practice session at the delayed start to the Formula 1 season in Austria. The world champion was 0.356 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, both driving black cars to reflect support for anti-racism and diversity.

Austria is the first of a reconfigured season after the coronavirus laid original plans to waste. It is the first of eight planned events in Europe, with more races to follow.

The shape of the rest of the season remains in flux, as a result of the differing impact of coronavirus around the world.

To restart the season, F1 has taken a series of measures to minimise the risks from coronavirus, with social-distancing protocols and a testing programme.

And the sport is making efforts to promote diversity as a result of the increased profile of the fight against racism following the global protests that were precipitated by the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody in May.

The drivers are expected to make a public statement of their support for the anti-racism and diversity cause before the start of the race on Sunday.

On track, Mercedes underlined their status as pre-season favourites – the third-fastest car, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, was 0.602 seconds behind. The Dutchman had a spin at the first corner starting his first flying lap on the softest tyre.

The Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were 10th and 12th but they did not run on the fastest tyre, and they have said they expect to struggle this season, at least until their car is redesigned in time for the third race in Hungary in two weeks’ time.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth fastest ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

Off track, Red Bull have pursued their doubts about the legality of an innovative steering system on the Mercedes, known as Dual-Axis Steering.

This alters the angle of the front wheels between cornering and straights with the aim of reducing tyre wear.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has said he is seeking a “clarification” from governing body the FIA as to the system’s legality. (BBC Sport)

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