UPDATE 1-Verstappen leads Styrian GP practice, Ricciardo crashes

(Update after evening practice)

SPIELBERG, Austria, Jul 10 (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led practices in the Styrian Grand Prix on Friday, as Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Renault and six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton had a difficult afternoon with his Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate who leads the championship after winning the season opener this weekend at the same Red Bull Ring circuit, was second 0.043 seconds behind Verstappen.

“We learned a little bit more about the car, we weren’t that happy last week,” said Verstappen, a two-time winner in Austria. “I am much more pleased.”

Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, who placed Racing Point’s “pink Mercedes” at the top of the table in early practice, finished the day in third place.

The car has earned the nickname of being a close copy of the Mercedes that carried Lewis Hamilton to his sixth Formula One World Championship in 2019.

Friday’s was another difficult day for Ricciardo, who forced the red flags to be deployed in the afternoon after colliding with the tire wall at high speed at turn nine after being on the track for 13 minutes.

The Australian seemed to limp after getting out of the car. Renault said it had gone to the medical center for a checkup and was declared fit.

Hamilton finished sixth in the second session, behind Canadian Lance Stroll’s Racing Point and Spain’s Carlos Sainz’s McLaren.

“Checo” Pérez completed the circuit with a best time of one minute and 04.867 seconds in the morning, using soft tires.

Verstappen’s Red Bull was second, 0.096 seconds, while Bottas and Hamilton finished third and fourth respectively, without using the fastest tires. Stroll was fifth with another Racing Point.

This Sunday will be the first time that there are two grand prizes on the same circuit in a single season. (Report by Alan Baldwin Edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano and Javier Leira)