Verstappen fastest at Styrian GP, Bottas spins in pit lane

SPIELBERG (Agencies): Formula One leader Max Verstappen was fastest in both practice sessions at the Styrian Grand Prix on Friday, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton finishing nearly four-tenths off the pace in fourth.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was involved in a rare incident in the pit lane, which was under investigation from race stewards. His Mercedes spun shortly after its release following a tire change in the second practice and Bottas just avoided colliding into McLaren mechanics in the next box.
Bottas didn’t return to the track and finished P2 in 12th. Practice took place in a drizzle, though the track was not slippery. Verstappen shaved 0.5 seconds off his leading P1 time in the afternoon session as the Red Bull driver clocked 1 minute, 5.412 seconds.
Hamilton had one lap that was .077 faster, but that time was deleted as the seven-time world champion had exceeded the track limit in one of the turns. Hamilton was third in first practice. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Renault’s Esteban Ocon were over three-tenths behind in second and third places respectively.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who posted the second fastest time in P1, sat out the afternoon session while team mechanics were working on his car. Team principal Franz Tost said data from the first practice showed irregularities, indicating an unknown issue with the power unit.
Both Ferraris failed to make the top 10. Third practice is scheduled for Saturday, followed by qualifying. Hamilton and Bottas won the two races held on the track in the Austrian Alps last year, while Verstappen triumphed in 2018 and 2019.
Verstappen leads overall with 131 points ahead of seven-time champion Hamilton with 119. Sergio Perez is third with 84. Perez clocked only the 13th and ninth fastest times, respectively. Red Bull arrives at its home track on the back of a three-race winning streak, the team’s first since the introduction of the hybrid power units in 2014.
For its engine supplier Honda, three wins in a row is its first time since Ayrton Senna won the opening four races in 1991.