Sizzling Hamilton clocks fastest lap

Hamilton clocked a fastest lap of one minute 5.975 seconds to outpace Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull by nearly two-tenths of a second.

Twenty-four hours after publicly burying the hatchet following championship leader Sebastian Vettel's 'road rage' incident at last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the three-time champion was at his sizzling best as his rival's Ferrari team struggled to cope.   -  AFP

Lewis Hamilton delivered an early signal of his commitment to regain the momentum in this year's title race when he topped the times in Friday's opening free practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Twenty-four hours after publicly burying the hatchet following championship leader Sebastian Vettel's 'road rage' incident at last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the three-time champion was at his sizzling best as his rival's Ferrari team struggled to cope.

Hamilton clocked a fastest lap of one minute 5.975 seconds to outpace Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull by nearly two-tenths of a second on a perfect summer's morning at the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian Alps.

The teenager had recovered after an earlier off-circuit excursion through a gravel trap at Turn One to return and split the two Mercedes, pushing Finn Valtteri Bottas down to third.

Four-time champion German Vettel of Ferrari, who leads Hamilton by 14 points after eight rounds of this year's 20-race title race, was fourth ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull and Finn Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, in the second Ferrari.

Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne offered signs of a possible McLaren Honda recovery from their ongoing doldrums by posting the seventh best time with team-mate and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso down in ninth, separated from him by the Toro Rosso of Russian Daniil Kvyat.

The Ferrari men both spun in the early minutes without causing any damage to their cars in a session littered with minor incidents that included Verstappen clipping the barriers.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean also had to nurse his Haas car back to the pits.