2020 F1 Austrian Grand Prix - Free Practice Results (1)

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes picked up from where they left off in pre-season testing by claiming the spoils in the much anticipated first free practice session of the 2020 F1 season for the Austrian Grand Prix.

After a wait of almost four months, the first FP1 session of the year got underway in overcast conditions with damp spots necessitating a careful approach initially before lap times eventually dropped.

Even so, as the first proper track action for the cars since March, different programmes made it tricky to establish an accurate order of performance, even if pre-season favourites Mercedes – resplendent in its new black livery - certainly wasted no time in establishing an early advantage.

As such, Hamilton’s quest for a seventh F1 world title began in earnest with a 1m 04.816secs lap, a comfortable 0.356s up on team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who in turn held a 0.3s margin over third place man Max Verstappen.

Considered Mercedes’ biggest rival for the weekend, Verstappen endured an indifferent start to his weekend with a leery spin on the exit of turn one, an eerily similar issue that afflicted the team at times during pre-season testing.

As one of a handful of teams to spend time on the soft rubber, McLaren got themselves up to fourth and sixth in the order of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, with Sergio Perez overcoming an early technical issue to slot between them in the Racing Point.

Alex Albon was seventh fastest, heading off the best of the Renault and Haas entries of Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, while Charles Leclerc was 10th quickest as Ferrari turned its focus to set-up rather than rapid laps.

Elsewhere, Lance Stroll headed Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon, the Frenchman’s first FP1 session since 2018 ending early when his Renault shed bodywork on the home straight with 20 minutes to go.

Debuting its refreshed ROKiT-free livery, Williams showed glimmers of improved pace with George Russell on the edge of the midfield in 17th, four tenths up on rookie team-mate Nicholas Latifi.

The Briton might have finished higher had he not been caught out by a spinning AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat ahead at the final corner with 10 minutes to go. Romain Grosjean brought up the rear in the Haas after brake issues kept him in the pit lane until the final minute.