Rosberg edges Hamilton by 0.019s in rain-hit FP2

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg topped the times by just 0.019s from team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a rain-hit second practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Rosberg was fastest courtesy of a very early lap at the start of FP2, posting a 1:07.967. Just ten minutes into the session, however, heavy rain started to fall at the final two corners and caught out a number of drivers still lapping on slick tyres as the rest of the track remained dry.

Drivers were quick to try and get back to the pits as strong winds ensured the torrential rain quickly engulfed the circuit, leaving a large amount of standing water on the pit straight. Jolyon Palmer and Sergio Perez both suffered spins in the penultimate corner in the wet conditions, but safely returned to the pits.

The downpour lasted for around 15 minutes before it eased and the track started to dry again, with the two Red Bulls first out on intermediate tyres before the final 20 minutes allowed slicks to be used.

With the track drying quickly, many drivers improved and Hamilton was just 0.019s off his team-mate with a late lap on ultrasoft tyres. Rosberg's best time came on supersofts and he was set to improve by more than half a second but opted to pit rather than complete the lap.

Nico Hulkenberg ended the session third quickest, 0.613s adrift of Rosberg and just 0.009s faster than Sebastian Vettel. Vettel was pushing for a late lap on ultrasoft tyres when he spun at high speed at Turn 2, with the car snapping away from him under braking. Fortunately for Vettel he came to a rest in the gravel trap before the barrier, but his excursion ensured the session ended under virtual safety car conditions.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth quickest ahead of Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, with Valtteri Bottas and Jenson Button completing the top ten.  While Hamilton and Hulkenberg posted their best laps on the ultrasoft, Vettel, Ricciardo and Sainz all used the supersoft tyre for their times.

Raikkonen had a spin before the rain delay, with the Finn going straight on at Turn 5 and spinning in the gravel, forcing him to drive the wrong way up the access road before being able to find a gap big enough to spin his car round again.

Team programs were heavily disrupted by the weather, which prevented any long runs on high fuel to understand tyre life during the second practice session.

The heavy rain is expected to be a sign of things to come this weekend in Austria, with more thunderstorms forecast on Saturday and heavy rain predicted for race day.

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Pos Driver Team Time Laps
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:07.967 25
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07.986 19
03 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:08.580 28
04 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:08.589 25
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:08.649 30
06 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:08.713 32
07 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:08.761 20
08 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:08.820 23
09 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:08.941 24
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1:08.994 30
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:09.075 26
12 Felipe Massa Williams 1:09.184 17
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:09.207 26
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:09.226 32
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:09.525 19
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:10.020 23
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:10.034 20
18 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:10.138 16
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:10.140 19
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:10.400 31
21 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:10.444 22
22 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:11.328 25