Lewis Hamilton to race Sebastian Vettel 'hard but fair' in Austrian GP
Hamilton fastest in both Friday practice sessions; Vettel 0.147s off Briton in P2; German says Mercedes are favourites
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 12/07/17 5:23pm
Lewis Hamilton says he is ready to race "hard but fair" in the Austrian GP as he attempts to close the gap to championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
The title rivals twice collided behind the Safety Car last time out in Azerbaijan, with Vettel this week avoiding further action from the FIA for steering into the Mercedes driver.
Hamilton topped both of Friday's practice sessions for the Austrian GP, but Vettel was just a tenth of a second behind in Practice Two.
It suggests another close battle at the front but Hamilton is not expecting any further contact between the pair.
"I don't think we will see any more touching with Sebastian," Hamilton said.
"I've made it clear that I don't want that to happen. I plan to have a clean, hard but fair, race.
"I don't think I'll change [how I fight for positions]. Everything that I've done so far has worked so I don't think I need to change how much I attack or defend.
"I will continue to drive hard like I have since I was a kid. I want to win this championship the right way."
Hamilton trails Vettel by 14 points in the Drivers' Championship after finishing behind the German in Baku after being forced into an extra pit stop due to a faulty headrest.
But the three-time world champion will draw level with the Ferrari driver if he leads them home this weekend and at next week's British GP.
"Since the last race I've been training, keeping my head down, staying focused and quiet and making sure I came here healthy and strong so that we can fight," the three-time world champion told Sky Sports News HQ.
"These two weekends are very important. I've lost points in the last race so I need to reverse that in these next two races. There are 14 points up for grabs [if we finish one-two]."
Vettel: Merc are favourites
Rain is forecast for Saturday's qualifying session but in dry conditions, Mercedes appear to hold a small but significant advantage over the Scuderia and be comfortable on all three of the tyre compounds Pirelli have brought to Spielberg.
Vettel was one of a number of drivers to spin during the morning practice session but was just 0.147 seconds off Hamilton's benchmark in the afternoon.
In general this season, Ferrari have looked the stronger on race day but Vettel says Mercedes are favourites for the weekend.
"It looks close. It's a short track so you would imagine it will be close," the four-time world champion told Sky F1.
"Mercedes are the favourite. They looked very quick no matter when they went out today."
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