Mercedes is hard to beat

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ENo one is allowed to watch from the ranks in Spielberg, but otherwise Formula One racing will obviously continue in 2020 as usual. World champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in each of the training runs, followed by team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton needed 1: 04.304 minutes in the now black Mercedes on his fastest lap for the 4.3 kilometers on the Red Bull Ring, Bottas was almost two tenths of a second slower. In third place: the Mexican Sergio Perez (+0.641) at the Racing Point. The team had built a kind of copy of the 2019 World Champion Mercedes over the winter and the Mercedes engine in the rear. Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, who turned 33 on Friday, was slightly slower than Perez and thus fourth fastest – and significantly faster than his teammate Charles Leclerc.

However, there should not be too much hope to be gained from this. During the test drives in February, Scuderia had already recognized that it was wrong with the vehicle concept. The car is to be completely overhauled in two weeks by the third race in Hungary. “It is too early to write everything off,” said Vettel, but: “We are 99 percent sure that we will have more problems than last year,” said Leclerc.

The man most likely to be credited with Hamilton’s successful challenge did not really get going on Friday. Max Verstappen has won the races in Austria in the past two years, in front of thousands of enthusiastic compatriots. On Friday, his fastest lap was over nine tenths of a second slower than Hamilton’s fastest time. The 22-year-old sees no signs of rust: “If you get back on a bike after a year, you also know how to do it,” said Verstappen.

Mercedes used the controversial DAS system on Friday, with which the pilot can adjust the track by pulling the steering wheel on the straight line. Opponent Red Bull had kept a protest open prior to the race. Meanwhile, the competition has to hope that the superiority of the world champions will decrease with the predicted rising temperatures.

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