F1 Raceweek: Record-breaking Rosberg rubs Vettel's nose in it


Sebastian Vettel appears set for a testing Austrian Grand Prix, with a record-breaking Nico Rosberg setting early benchmarks in Friday's practice sessions.

Vettel's day started with the reports that he faces a five-place grid penalty owing to a gearbox change and ended in the gravel trap after a bizarre spin at turn two on the freshly laid asphalt at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

All eyes were expected to be on Vettel's car as Ferrari had planned to run with a new 'Halo' cockpit safety device, although the idea was scrapped as the German's first session was truncated due to time spent in the garage.

FP1 also saw Mercedes set their stall out ahead of what is expected to be another weekend of dominance.

Winner here in each of the two years since Austria's return to the calendar, Nico Rosberg's FP1 time of 1:07.373 was the quickest of all time at the circuit.

Lewis Hamilton was not too far behind his team-mate, though Vettel and the fellow Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen were over half a second down on Mercedes' pace.

Max Verstappen also got used to the confines of his garage after wiping out two front wings going over controversial 'baguette' kerbs, designed to punish drivers who push the limits of the track.

And all drivers were left twiddling their thumbs in FP2 as a rain storm accounted for almost half of the session.

Around 45 minutes were lost due to the weather, although the laps run on intermediate tyres once things cleared up could prove vital for teams, with showers forecast for Saturday during qualifying.

Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr set the fastest time on the green-wall tyres, dipping below the one-minute 17-second mark.