June 19, 2015 / 10:39 AM / 2 years ago

Vettel quickest in Austrian GP practice

Ferrari Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (R) talks to a technician in the pit during the first practice session of the Austrian F1 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria, June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was first and last in Austrian Grand Prix practice on a Friday that team principal Maurizio Arrivabene will not forget in a hurry after nearly being run over by Felipe Massa.

Vettel completed only four laps in the morning before pulling over with a gearbox problem and then did 28 in the afternoon to end the day with the fastest lap of one minute 09.600 seconds.

The second session also ended with another gearbox problem, however.

“One of the sensors went to the alert mode and we had to slow down...we don’t know what’s the problem yet, but it seems to be unrelated to the one we had this morning,” said the German.

Compatriot Nico Rosberg, last year’s winner who set the pace for Mercedes before lunch, was second with a time just 0.11 slower than the four-times champion.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in both sessions.

If that put a smile on Arrivabene’s face, it made up for the shock of trying to cross the pitlane just as former Ferrari driver Massa left the Williams garage.

As the Brazilian braked, the Italian jumped back.

Rosberg’s world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in the morning but only fifth in the afternoon and sounded tetchy on the team radio in the first session when his time was 0.308 slower than Rosberg‘s.

“How many changes do you guys want me to do, can I just focus on driving?,” the 30-year-old, who has a 17 point lead in the championship, said over the team radio.

Several drivers, including Hamilton, ran off at the penultimate corner on an overcast day.

“I was pushing hard and learning with every lap. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying hard enough,” said Hamilton.

“I haven’t seen the data but Ferrari looked quick and it’s definitely closer here than at other circuits. We’re always aware of the threat from our rivals and we take it seriously every race.”

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who has a 20-place grid penalty after changes to the engine, was 17th and 16th respectively.

The Spaniard’s car broke down before he had done a lap and he was confined to the garage for most of the first session.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest for Mercedes-powered Williams in the morning, at the track where the Finn took his first podium finish last year.

Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar

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