LEADING THE WAY: Nico Rosberg led both practice sessions ahead of the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. Image: AP / Kerstin Joensson
Spielberg, Austria - Nico Rosberg led Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in both practices for the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix.
The second practice was interrupted for more than 30 minutes as heavy rain and hail drenched the Red Bull Ring.
Running in the first eight minutes before the rain, Rosberg clocked his fastest lap. Hamilton came within .019 seconds after the rain break.
As it happened: 2016 Austrian GP - 2nd practice
Rosberg also had the fastest time in the dry morning session, with Hamilton .357 seconds behind.
Rosberg has won both races since F1 returned to Austria, and tops the championship with five wins, and a 24-point lead over defending champion Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel ended the second practice in the gravel after losing control of his Ferrari late in the session.
Vettel said over team radio: "I don't know what happened there, I just lost the car completely hitting the brakes."
Vettel ended the second session behind Force India's Nico Hulkenberg. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fifth.
Vettel will be penalized five slots on the starting grid in Sunday's race because of an unscheduled gear-box change.
Rain is also forecast for qualifying on Saturday so the second practice may have been particularly useful to the teams.
Rosberg is seeking his first championship, after seeing his teammate win the last two titles. Hamilton also has an earlier title with McLaren.
Both Mercedes drivers had some problems but dominated the first session. Both spun off during the session, and Jean Grosjean of Haas lost control while trying to avoid Hamilton.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, the surprise winner in Barcelona, broke his suspension and front wing while running wide and hitting a yellow curb. The circuit has a new surface. He also had a spin in the second session.
Vettel and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen were third and fourth, respectively, in the morning session. All were inside a second behind Rosberg.
Ricciardo also finished in the gravel late in the first session and was fifth.