It may be the Red Bull Ring but it was a Mercedes 1-2 as Nico Rosberg set the pace ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Friday’s first practice in Austria.
Despite the track being very green and slippery, Mercedes were quickly into the action as both Hamilton and Rosberg took advantage of the extra set of tyres Pirelli supply for the first 30 minutes.
The duo started in the 1:19s but were quickly down into the 1:13s after six laps each. And it was only then that they were joined by another car, courtesy of Marcus Ericsson in the Caterham.
Rosberg pitted with a minor power unit problem while Hamilton continued out on track, lowering the benchmark to a 1:12.255.
Shortly after several more drivers joined the action while one, Ericsson, went out when he parked his CT05 having lost drive. There was also smoke pouring from the front brakes.
After the first 30 minutes, Hamilton was leading by 0.110s up on Kimi Raikkonen with Nico Hulkenberg a further 0.005s. Jean-Eric Vergne was fourth ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.
Kevin Magnussen was one of the first back into the action and improved to second, 0.058s down on Hamilton’s pace, and then pitted.
His team-mate Button, one of the three drivers in the current field who contested the 2003 Austrian GP, hit the front with a 1:11.839.
The Brit was overhauled by Rosberg as the Championship leader’s 1:11.295 was half a second quicker. A few minutes later the rain that had threatened since the start of FP1 began to fall.
The rain, though, was light and other than making the track a bit greasy did not have a major impact on the conditions.
With 30 minutes left in the session Rosberg was quickest ahead of Button, Hamilton, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg.
Pushing hard in the final stage of practice there were several incidents of note, especially into the final few corners.
Sebastian Vettel had a major spin as he hit the kerb into the last corner. Somehow the reigning World Champion managed to avoid the barriers in his spinning Red Bull.
Shortly after Ricciardo had a similar moment, although not quite as spectacular. Raikkonen had a moment at Turn 1 as too did Valtteri Bottas and Rosberg.
While they were slipping and sliding, Hamilton climbed back up to second place, 0.140s behind his team-mate, and Alonso went third only for the rain to return to the track.
Returning to the action for a final run, Hamilton was on a heavier fuel load and not able to make any inroads into Rosberg’s time meaning the German claimed the first P1 in Austria in more than a decade.
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:11.295 19 laps
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.435 +0.140 32 laps
03 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:11.606 +0.311 23 laps
04 Felipe Massa Williams 1:11.756 +0.461 27 laps
05 Jenson Button McLaren 1:11.839 +0.544 33 laps
06 Sergio Perez Force India 1:12.009 +0.714 33 laps
07 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:12.072 +0.777 20 laps
08 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:12.114 +0.819 21 laps
09 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:12.313 +1.018 36 laps
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:12.364 +1.069 30 laps
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:12.365 +1.070 21 laps
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:12.372 +1.077 35 laps
13 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:12.570 +1.275 28 laps
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:12.984 +1.689 29 laps
15 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:12.988 +1.693 25 laps
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:13.168 +1.873 28 laps
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:13.642 +2.347 27 laps
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:13.738 +2.443 26 laps
19 Max Chilton Marussia 1:13.857 +2.562 28 laps
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham :14.611 +3.316 24 laps
21 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:14.691 +3.396 9 laps
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:17.501 +6.206 8 laps