Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes will have its “work cut out” to beat Ferrari at Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton led the way in opening practice but Charles Leclerc surged to the top of the timesheets to end the day quickest for Ferrari, as he finished over three-tenths clear of Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes has won all eight races so far this season but Hamilton is anticipating a greater challenge from Ferrari this weekend in Spielberg.

“It’s been a clean day with no major issues,” Hamilton said. “I broke a wing a couple of times but I think a lot of people are doing that on the kerbs, I don’t know if we are faster than we were here last year but it feels incredible.

“The Ferraris and the Red Bulls look pretty quick, particularly the Ferraris so it will be interesting to see how that pans out tomorrow, because you never know what they do.

“But I think it’s close, which is good. I love it when it’s close and that means we have our work cut out.”

Asked if he considers Ferrari to be the favourites, Hamilton replied: “I think today showed they are either with us or slightly ahead of us.

“It’s one of those circuits where it’s very close. When you go to Brands Hatch for example, the difference is only a few tenths.

“The Ferraris are generally very quick on the straights. The Red Bulls have picked up on the straights too. I think that’s definitely going to be the challenge.

“The Ferraris have been quicker in the straights for whatever reason and it doesn’t seem to be happening in the corners, so it will be really interesting.

“In the race runs they are usually not as quick as us, but today they were quicker. But it’s OK. It is a track that you can follow closer at least and hopefully the tyres are durable.”

 

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