Hamilton set for gearbox penalty in Austria

Austrian F1 Grand Prix 2017 Qualifying: Hamilton Sets FP1 Pace, Results, Times

Lewis Hamilton's hopes of cutting Sebastian Vettel's title lead in the Austrian GP have suffered a setback after the Mercedes driver was hit by a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

There had been calls for Vettel to be hit with penalties for this race after he drove his auto into Hamilton's at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in protest to what he considered a risky braking manoeuvre.

It means that Hamilton, who was fastest in both Friday practice sessions in Austria, will start Sunday's race no higher than sixth.

Despite that run he still trails Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - with whom he clashed behind the safety auto in Azerbaijan last race - by 14 points in the championship.

Lewis Hamilton has set the pace in the Austrian Grand Prix practice. Hamilton is now on 66 and had been favourite to take the top slot in Austria.

The Briton then lowered his morning time by another half second in the afternoon to end the day with a best time of one minute 05.483 seconds.

The world champions have ruled out any possibility that the damage to the unit was done when world championship leader Sebastian Vettel twice hit Hamilton's auto in Baku.

"We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2 (the second session), but the guys did a great job to turn the auto around and we still managed to complete our programme", Hamilton said.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third-fastest in both sessions after spins on the picturesque track in the Styrian Alps.

"The vehicle feels fantastically fast here".

Verstappen, fourth fastest in P2, said his tyres were "all over the place" in the afternoon.

Two weeks ago in Baku, an irate Vettel swerved into Hamilton, albeit at slow speed, because he thought the British driver slammed his brakes on recklessly late, right in front of him, seconds earlier.

That was a significant blow because Vettel had been given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for unsafe driving after deliberately hitting Hamilton's vehicle.

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