SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had the fastest laps as Mercedes dominated the first practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday, while Sebastian Vettel escaped damage to his Red Bull after spinning twice on the grass.
Rosberg’s best time on the 4.3-kilometer Red Bull Ring was 1 minute, 11.295 seconds, beating teammate Hamilton’s fastest lap by 0.140.
Vettel managed only 15th but brought his car back to the garage undamaged following his spectacular incident in the final turn on the team’s home track. After spinning twice, the car came to a standstill on the track again.
Vettel’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, who finished practice in 13th coming off his maiden Formula One win at the Canadian GP, also spun on the same spot shortly afterward.
“They were just warming up the crowd,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner joked.
“We are trying to find out the limit, and both just came on the grass,” said Horner, adding the track was still lacking enough grip during the first session. “There was also a little bit of rain in the air. Thankfully everything is fine.”
Rosberg quit practice after 19 laps with a minor problem to his hybrid engine.
“We know what it is and we just wanted enough time to fix in time for the afternoon’s practice,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said.
Rosberg leads Hamilton in the drivers’ standings by 140-118 points going into Sunday’s race, the first GP in Austria since 2003.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who posted the fastest time in opening practice four times this season, trailed Rosberg by 0.311 in third. Alonso is one of just four drivers who have raced on the track before, alongside McLaren’s Jenson Button, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Williams’ Filipe Massa.
Massa and Button were fourth and fifth respectively.