Until this morning Hamilton’s own 2016 Q2 lap of 1:06.228 had stood as the marker for quickest lap on the Styrian track but the three-time championship brushed past that time in the second half of this morning’s opening practice session at the Spielberg circuit, lapping in 1:05.975 on the soft tyres, the hardest of the three compounds on offer this weekend.
In the second practice session, the Brit made a fastest lap of 1:05.483, its resulted P1 by 0.147 seconds in FP2, but the Briton had a number of complaints with his car throughout the session. A spark plug alteration cost Hamilton some time on-track midway through the running before he reported a front wing issue late.
The triple-time world champion was 0.147 seconds faster than title leader Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in the afternoon, having been 0.19 ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the morning.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third best in both sessions, but went off track three times.
The only glitch for Hamilton, meanwhile, was to come in to the pits briefly for a spark plug change in P2.
“I still have the issues with power,” Hamilton said near the end of the session. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
The Spielberg track, nestled amid rolling hills and forests, was slippery and caused problems on Turns 1, 6 and 7.
Verstappen, fourth fastest in P2, lamented that his tires were “all over the place” in the afternoon.