Lewis Hamilton completes clean sweep of Austrian Grand Prix practice sessions
Lewis Hamilton is on course to open his championship defence in style as he continued to dominate the Austrian Grand Prix.
After topping both practice sessions here in Spielberg on Friday, the Mercedes driver finished fastest again in the final running before qualifying.
The world champion was provided with a major boost in his quest for a record-equalling seventh title in the early hours of Saturday morning after Mercedes survived a Red Bull protest against their car.
Following a six-hour stewards’ investigation, Formula One’s sporting federation, the FIA, gave Mercedes the green light to continue using their controversial Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system – priming Hamilton as the favourite to win Sunday’s race.
Hamilton finished 0.147 seconds clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen third, the best part of three tenths back.
Aside from Bottas, Verstappen looks set to provide Hamilton with the closest championship challenge.
The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished fifth and seventh respectively – both drivers more than half-a-second adrift of Hamilton.
The final track action before qualifying later on Saturday was temporarily suspended after rookie Nicholas Latifi crashed out.
Latifi lost control of his Williams on the exit of the opening bend, before slamming into the barriers.
The session was red-flagged as the marshals recovered Latifi’s beaten-up car. Latifi’s Williams team will now face a race against time to get his machine ready for qualifying.
Sergio Perez ended the running in fourth as Racing Point continued to impress, with the London-born Alex Albon sixth for Red Bull.
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished 10th. His British compatriot George Russell was 16th for Williams.