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Austrian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton praises Mercedes for practice speed

Lewis Hamilton praised his Mercedes team and the speed of his updated car Friday after dominating both practice sessions for the Austrian Grand Prix with record-breaking times.

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leaves the pits during the second practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on July 7, 2017 play

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leaves the pits during the second practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on July 7, 2017

(AFP)

Lewis Hamilton praised his Mercedes team and the speed of his updated car Friday after dominating both practice sessions for the Austrian Grand Prix with record-breaking times.

The three-time world champion, who is 14 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari in the title race, topped both sessions with aplomb.

He was nearly two-tenths clear of Vettel in the afternoon on a day of near-perfect preparations at the Red Bull Ring circuit.

"It's been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far," said three-time world champion Hamilton. "We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2, but the guys did a great job to turn the car around -- and we still managed to complete our programme.

"Most importantly, the car feels fantastically fast here. There's already a nice balance and it feels good out on track.

"This car is so quick in comparison to what we raced here last year. It's tricky, but a proper thrill to hook up a lap.

"The team is in good spirits and we're all up for another exciting fight with the Ferraris this weekend."

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

"It was great to see that the upgrades the team worked so hard to deliver for this weekend have worked straight out of the box," he said.

"Aerodynamically, we've made another step forward from Baku, which is encouraging. This track punishes you if you make a mistake.

"I tested those limits, but that's something I can learn from and build upon for the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car feels good and we'll fine tune the set-up tonight for qualifying."

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