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Hamilton outpaces Verstappen in practice for Austrian GP

World champion Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a poor morning session to set the fastest time in free practice for the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg on Friday.

Hamilton clocked a quickest time of 1min 04.523sec which was 0.189sec up on his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with championship leader Max Verstappen in third 0.217sec back.

The Red Bull driver, who is looking for an Austrian double after winning last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, was over half a second quicker than Hamilton in the morning with the Briton running only seventh fastest.

Hamilton trails Verstappen by 18 points in the title race. 

The first practice was faster than the corresponding session last week thanks to cooler temperatures in the Austrian mountains and a switch to softer tyres.

The second practice followed suit until rain intervened in the last half hour. Not enough to really wet the track, but enough to hamper the drivers. 

Hamilton spun off into the gravel on the last corner, without doing any damage while Lance Stroll also left the track several times.

Stroll and his Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth fastest, followed by the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly. 

It was the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc who ran Verstappen closest in the morning but he and teammate Carlos Sainz, who had been third, dropped right off the pace in the afternoon.

The final practice session takes place on Saturday at 1000 GMT with qualifying due to start at 1300 GMT.

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