Styrian GP: Perez, Verstappen lead Mercedes on soft tyre in Practice 1

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Sergio Perez put the soft tyre to good use as he led Max Verstappen and both Mercedes in first practice for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Fears that back-to-back races at the same circuit would lead to a lack of Friday action were unfounded in a busy morning in Austria, as teams trialled the fixes put in place since last weekend.

There would be early trouble as Williams, however, as Nicholas Latifi ground to a halt with yet more suspected Mercedes engine issues, resulting in a short red flag.

When the session resumed though, and as teams fitted their second set of tyres, the Mercedes works team would up the pace with Lewis Hamilton leading teammate Valtteri Bottas on mediums.

Racing Point though showed signs of improvement from last week as, using the soft C4 compound, Perez used the extra grip to set a 1m04.867s to go fastest.

That would be enough to finish just under a tenth clear of Verstappen in the Red Bull, as the Dutchman also opted for the red-striped rubber.

Mercedes though remain very much in front, with Bottas improving to third just ahead of Hamilton, with both only a quarter of a second off the leading pace on the slower medium tyre.

Lance Stroll had his best time of the session deleted due to track limits, but he would still be a solid fifth in the second Racing Point ahead of Alex Albon in sixth but also on mediums.

Highlighting the competitiveness of the midfield, four different teams would round out the top 10 starting with Carlos Sainz in seventh for McLaren.

Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo both used the medium tyre to set their best times in eighth and ninth respectively.

It was another worrying session for Ferrari, however, at least based on the timesheet, as Sebastian Vettel was 10th and Charles Leclerc 12th on the soft compound as they trialled the fast-tracked upgrades for this weekend.

Last weekend's podium sitter Lando Norris was 14th in the McLaren, albeit only three-tenths slower than teammate Sainz in seventh on mediums.

While two reserve drivers were given outings with Jack Aitken 17th in the Williams and Robert Kubica back on track for Alfa Romeo in 18th.

Latifi was 19th after his engine trouble with Kevin Magnussen managing just three laps in the Haas before being garage-bound with battery issues.