Lewis Hamilton beaten by Nico Rosberg in Austria practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Rosberg heads Hamilton in first practice
Austrian Grand Prix
Venue: Spielberg Dates: 19-21 June
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Nico Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time in an incident-packed first practice at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Both were among a number drivers who ran off at the penultimate corner, as all struggled to find grip in cool conditions at the Red Bull Ring.

Rosberg was 0.308 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who was on a lap that would have been fastest before an error.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third ahead of Williams's Valtteri Bottas.

Rosberg started the session with an advantage of more than a second over Hamilton after their first runs.

Hamilton closed the gap on his next flying lap and was then on another faster lap, setting the fastest sector times of all in the first two-thirds of the lap, before running wide at Turn Eight.

Austrian GP: when F1 hits the mountain trail...

He did not improve again and at the end of the session betrayed some irritation to his team over the radio.

Asked to make some changes to the car's settings, Hamilton responded: "How many changes do you guys want me to do, can I just focus on driving?"

It was a troubled session for two big names, as both Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Fernando Alonso suffered engine problems.

Vettel's car ground to a halt between Turns One and Two after just four laps and the four-time champion was unable to run again.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene is almost run over by Felipe Massa's Williams
Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene had to quick-step his way out of the path of Felipe Massa's Williams

Alonso started practice knowing he already has a 20-place grid penalty because he is using fifth examples of both the internal combustion engine, turbo and MGU-H (the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo).

But he was hoping to put some mileage on a new shorter nose design aimed at increasing downforce.

But his car broke down before even completing one lap. The Spaniard managed to coast back to the garage and did not get out again until there were just 15 minutes to go.

However, there was no time to run the new aerodynamic package, which also includes revised front and rear wings. It will now have to be run in second practice at 13:00 BST.

Team-mate Jenson Button will find out later on Friday whether he, too, will have a grid penalty - which, for him, would be for a second consecutive race.

Button and Alonso were 16th and 17th fastest, underlining that McLaren are correct in assessing that this will be a difficult weekend for the team.

The cool ambient temperatures in the Styrian mountains meant all drivers had trouble generating sufficient tyre temperature, and this was an influencing factor in the number of incidents.

Raikkonen, Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat, Force India's Sergio Perez, both Toro Rosso drivers and Lotus's Pastor Maldonado all had off-track moments at Turn Eight, which has a downhill entry and falls away on the exit.

Max Verstappen complained the Toro Rosso was "undriveable" it had so much oversteer - a loose rear end - in Turn Eight.

But the Dutchman still managed to set the eighth fastest time, behind Sauber's Felipe Nasr and the Red Bulls of Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo.

Williams's Felipe Massa was ninth fastest ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez.

Turn One was also catching drivers out, with Button among those to misjudge it and run wide.

There was action off-track, too. In one bizarre incident, there was a near-miss in the pit lane when Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene stepped off the pit wall to walk back to the garage just after Williams released Felipe Massa from his pit box.

The Brazilian managed to stop in plenty of time and an embarrassed Arrivabene pulled himself up short, giving Massa a sheepish thumbs up as he waited for the Williams to go by.

Andrew Benson's Austrian GP
Austria proved a popular event when it returned to the calendar in 2014 after an absence of 11 years, and not just because it was a rare 'new' event in Europe.
The Red Bull Ring is a far cry as a track from its magnificent, spellbinding forerunner, the Osterreichring, from which it has been adapted, but it's an entertaining little circuit on which to hold a grand prix.
The layout lends itself to good racing, there are a couple of decently-challenging fast-ish corners to challenge the drivers.
Then there's the location - the track is perched on a hillside in the glorious Styrian mountains. And the viewing is excellent, too, which much of the track visible from many places.
Add in a capacity crowd of often boisterous local fans, and a party atmosphere generated by owners/organisers/local sponsors Red Bull and it makes for a fun all-round weekend.

Austrian GP first practice results

Austrian GP coverage details