Austrian GP practice: Lewis Hamilton top
|Austrian Grand Prix on the BBC|
|Venue: Red Bull Ring Date: 7-9 July|
|Coverage: Practice and qualifying on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (online only), and race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.|
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set a scintillating pace in first practice at the Austrian Grand Prix as he left title rival Sebastian Vettel trailing.
He was 0.449secs quicker than Ferrari's Vettel despite using the slowest 'soft' tyre and Vettel the faster super-soft.
The German was fourth fastest, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Vettel is 14 points ahead of Hamilton as F1 resumes two weeks after their controversial collision in Baku.
The four-time world champion has apologised for deliberately driving into Hamilton and said he regretted the incident, while the Briton has made it clear without saying so that he still believes his rival should have been disqualified from the race.
There was an encouraging performance from McLaren, with Stoffel Vandoorne seventh and Fernando Alonso ninth.
McLaren's engine partner Honda has struggled with reliability and poor performance this year but has introduced an upgraded engine for this race, which Alonso said would provide "a small step, a small different version of what we had until now, but there are not big changes in it".
Insiders suggest the engine improvement is in the region of 25bhp - the Honda was reputed to be just over 90bhp down on the Mercedes before this weekend.
Vettel's margin to Hamilton was 0.449secs, a significant amount on a very short lap that is just over a minute long.
It is only Friday practice, but it is one more small piece of evidence to add to a growing suggestion that Mercedes have made a performance step since their difficult weekend in Monaco and Ferrari are perhaps beginning to struggle to keep up.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth quickest on the track owned by his Red Bull team's parent company, just ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was one of a number of drivers to spin on the slippery surface.
Vettel also rotated at the Red Bull Ring's first corner, a few minutes after Raikkonen did, while Verstappen had a spin at Turn Three shortly after setting the fastest first sector time of all towards the end of the session.
The Dutchman's session was truncated by an off-track moment at Turn Seven, after which he had to return to the pits for repairs.
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, 11th and 15th fastest, were among the other drivers to spin.