Ricciardo fifth as Hamilton dominates in Austria

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    Daniel Ricciardo was twice fifth-fastest as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has posted the fastest time in both practice sessions for the Austrian Grand Prix.

    The British driver was 0.147 seconds faster than championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in the afternoon on Friday, having been 0.19 ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the morning.

    Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Ricciardo was 0.39 seconds off in the second session and 0.645 in the morning.

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third best in both sessions, but went off track three times.

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

    “I still have the issues with power,” Hamilton said near the end of the session. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

    That may give Mercedes pause for thought heading into Saturday’s final practice and qualifying.

    The Spielberg track, nestled amid rolling hills and forests under the imposing Styrian Alps, was slippery and caused problems on turns one, six and seven.

    Verstappen, fourth fastest in P2, said his tyres were “all over the place” in the afternoon.

    Fernando Alonso was eighth best in P2 on an encouraging day for the struggling McLaren team. However, the Spanish driver was also one of several to spin on turn six, and again on turn seven and into the gravel.

    Bottas also went into the gravel at much the same place as Alonso early into the afternoon’s session, having spun his car twice in the morning.

    In P1, Vettel clipped the kerb at turn one. Verstappen, Haas driver Romain Grosjean, and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr wobbled on the same turn – as did Hamilton late into P1.

    © AAP 2017

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