Lewis Hamilton wrestled back some much-needed momentum for Mercedes at the Austrian GP by topping a one-two in second practice, with championship leader and race favourite Max Verstappen third.
Hamilton, a distant second behind his title rival at Red Bull’s Spielberg home last Sunday and only seventh in opening practice for this weekend at the same track, managed to find one-lap pace heading into qualifying day and outpaced Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen by 0.2s with his 1:04.523.
Verstappen had led the Mercedes on the medium tyre before a switch to the softs seemed to ignite their W12 car – which Hamilton very nearly crashed in the closing stages after finding the Turn 4 gravel as light rain fell.
After Friday’s running, team boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1 he was now “carefully optimistic” about the world champions’ prospects this weekend as they seek to end their longest win drought since 2013.
The Mercedes-powered Aston Martin team also enjoyed a much-improved session, with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel – while more than half a second off the leading time – running impressively in fourth and fifth.
The Yuki Tsunoda-led AlphaTauris were sixth and seventh, while Fernando Alonso – back in the car after sitting out for debutant Guanyu Zhou in the earlier session – finished eighth.
More to follow.
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