Austrian GP: Hamilton, Mercedes lead as Racing Point shine in Practice 2

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Lewis Hamilton once again led a comfortable Mercedes one-two as Racing Point starred in Practice 2 in Austria.

The usual mid-session qualifying runs offered the first indication at how the 10 teams shape up and the order was certainly surprising.

Not so much at the front though, where the six-time world champion improved on his morning best with a 1m04.304s to lead teammate Valtteri Bottas by two-tenths of a second.

Behind the Finn though was a 0.45s gap back to Sergio Perez in third for Racing Point, as the Silverstone-based team really began to stretch the legs of its so-called 'Pink Mercedes'.

He would lead what appears to be an upper midfield group now consisting of Racing Point, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Renault, all of whom were covered by just half a second.

Red Bull is perhaps the one team that could pull out of that group as both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon appeared to struggle with the balance of the RB16.

That was epitomised by oversteer moments for both drivers as the Thai driver half-spun at Turn 1, while Verstappen slid into the gravel at Turn 6 before continuing.

The glimmer of hope for Red Bull was the Dutchman only improved by a tenth from the medium to the soft tyre, as he ended the session eighth and 0.911s behind Hamilton.

Contrast that to the 0.7-1.0s that Mercedes found between the two compounds and, should Verstappen match that, it would put him in contention with the two Silver Arrows.

Ferrari, for all of their fears over the current performance of the SF1000, had Sebastian Vettel in fourth, a third of a second clear of teammate Charles Leclerc in ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo was a strong fifth for Renault, ahead of 2021 teammate Lando Norris in sixth for McLaren.

Lance Stroll's weakness on a single lap remains evident as a few errors, notably at Turn 7, saw him seventh fastest but still ahead of both Verstappen and Leclerc.

Carlos Sainz would complete the top 10 in the second McLaren.

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Daniil Kvyat was able to break into the five-team group in 12th for AlphaTauri, but it would appear the sister Red Bull team, Haas, Alfa Romeo and Williams will make up the lower midfield battle towards the back of the grid.

The good news there is Williams has just about caught up with the back of the grid, with George Russell finishing 18th.

Teammate Nicholas Latifi does have some catching up to do, however, having been a second behind the Briton in 20th.