Hamilton set for grid penalty after gearbox change

Austrian F1 Grand Prix 2017 Qualifying: Hamilton Sets FP1 Pace, Results, Times

Though Vettel, fourth in the morning and second later on, said Ferrari "understood" why it had lacked single-lap pace at the previous event in Azerbaijan, he suggested Mercedes was the pole favourite again in Austria.

The Briton, at his sizzling best despite power problems with his vehicle, clocked a best time of one minute and 5.483 seconds in the afternoon's second session to outpace Vettel's Ferrari by 0.147 seconds.

Ricciardo ended FP2 fifth fastest, and was just 0.390s off Lewis Hamilton's record lap time around the Austrian circuit.

Verstappen's best times were set on supersofts and the same can be said by Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas who rounded off the top three, three tenths off the pace. "There's a good feeling inside the team and the auto is clearly quick here".

The only glitch for Hamilton, meanwhile, was to come in to the pits briefly for a spark plug change during P2.

"It's a short track, so you imagine it'll be close", he said.




Further down the field, there was encouragement for McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as fresh Honda power units helped them run in the top 10 across the sessions.

Vettel was given a time penalty during that race but escaped further punishment from the FIA, motor sport's governing body, following a hearing on Monday.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth, 0.449s off title rival Hamilton, and was one of the cars to spin early in the session after losing the rear of his vehicle on the Turn 1 apex.

Two weeks ago in Baku, an irate Vettel swerved into Hamilton, albeit at slow speed, because he thought the British driver slammed his brakes on recklessly late, right in front of him, seconds earlier.

The German is sure to be put under scrutiny by the travelling global media corps in a paddock that will keep him under close observation, and he will likely be given an even more intense on-track examination when he and Hamilton restart their scrap for the drivers' world title.

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