Austrian GP: Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2, Verstappen P3 in Practice 2

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Mercedes struck back against Max Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton led teammate Valtteri Bottas in Practice 2 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion posted a 1m04.523s on the soft tyres to finish two-tenths clear of his nearest challengers, as the Brackley-based team hinted a closer battle might be in store this weekend.

Verstappen still appeared to have the edge on race pace, although the long run was slightly interrupted by light rain hitting the circuit and dampening a few areas.

In fact, Hamilton was one of a few drivers to slide off track into the gravel at Turn 4 after locking up on the painted entry kerb.

Behind the lead trio, Aston Martin enjoyed one of their most competitive sessions with Lance Stroll fourth and Sebastian Vettel fifth, albeit four and five-tenths off the pace of the cars in front respectively.

AlphaTauri came next with Yuki Tsunoda pipping teammate Pierre Gasly into sixth as Fernando Alonso took eighth for Alpine.

Lando Norris came ninth for McLaren and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.

Sergio Perez found himself down in 11th in the second Red Bull, as single lap pace continues to be his main weakness.

After a strong morning, Ferrari fell backwards in the afternoon with Carlos Sainz 13th and Charles Leclerc 16th for the Scuderia.

Equally, Daniel Ricciardo remains unable to make the gains needed to get inside the top 10 in 15th.

George Russell led the Williams/Haas group at the back of the field in 17th, with Mick Schumacher ahead of Nicholas Latifi.

Nikita Mazepin continues to prop up the field in the other Haas.

So game on between Mercedes and Verstappen at the front, with Red Bull hoping Perez can make the gains he did last week to join the battle.

Meanwhile, the midfield pecking order continues to be anyone's guess with under seven-tenths covering Stroll in third to Russell in 17th.

Throw in the soft tyre potentially opening the door two a two-stop strategy plus the threat of rain on Sunday and an intriguing weekend awaits in Spielberg.

Full results from Practice 2 can be seen below: