Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen says a damaged front wing prevented him from setting a faster lap and was a factor in the large gap to Mercedes during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Milton Keynes squad was tipped to provide Mercedes with its firmest test yet in this year’s title race following a strong pre-season showing, but both drivers were off the pace throughout the first day of running when the delayed 2020 season finally got underway at the Red Bull Ring on Friday.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton ended the day fastest as he headed a Mercedes 1-2 in both practice sessions, with Verstappen left nearly a second adrift after suffering front wing damage during his qualifying simulation run in FP2.

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"I think it was a good day,” Verstappen told Sky. “The laptimes, they don’t really say anything, because I broke my front wing on the fastest lap.

"But we are, I think, confident. There are always things you can do better, but I think overall it was a good day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”

Both Red Bull drivers suffered spins throughout the day and Alexander Albon, who spun at Turn 1 in FP2, could only finish a lowly 13th in the afternoon.

Asked what had caused his spin, Albon replied: "Just pushing. Obviously in race runs, the car gets a bit more lairy. I pushed it a little bit and had an oversteer.

“We know what we want to work on. I think there are definite areas in the car, short runs and long runs, that we know to address. Everyone has been running different engine modes. We'll see tomorrow."