Hamilton's time of a 1:05.975 on the soft tyres was enough to eclipse Verstappen by a tenth - who survived a brush with the wall over the course of the session.
Running was sparse in the first part of the session, with all drivers completing initial installation laps before peeling back off into the pit lane. On a pleasantly warm morning in Spielberg, Verstappen and one of Baku's heroes Lance Stroll were the only men to set a time in the opening 20 minutes.
When traffic did start to appear, Kimi Raikkonen became the first casualty of the weekend - a potential brake-by-wire issue saw his rear end overtake the front at Turn 1. He recovered to the pit lane for checks before heading out a short time later.
Ferrari's problems looked to have increased just moments later, as Sebastian Vettel found himself reversing up the hill to the Remus Kurve. Fortuitously, it happened due to the German clipping one of the perilous yellow sausage kerbs, on the entry to Turn 1. No damage done, he flicked the car round and continued.
In the early runs, Mercedes found themselves on top. Bottas and Hamilton led the way, both on the ultra-soft compound, with Verstappen half a second back on soft tyres. Vettel lagged in fourth before he started to exchange fastest laps with Hamilton.
Their battle was broken by Verstappen sliding wide at Turn 7, bouncing through the gravel and clipping the wall with his right rear. Like Raikkonen after his problem, he crawled back to the pits for needed repairs.
With Honda's awaited 'Spec 3' upgrade equipped on both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren cars, both put in reasonable showings, the Belgian venturing into the top seven by the time the session hit the halfway mark, Alonso two places back in ninth.
In terms of action at the front, Bottas returned back to the top on a fresh set of ultra-softs, a tenth ahead of Hamilton, who'd started runs on the soft tyres. Despite them being the hardest compound on offer this weekend, it didn't stop the Brit from pulling further away at the front, four tenths ahead of Bottas' best time on the super-softs.
The kerbs and traps continued to cause problems. Romain Grosjean suffered a front left puncture after pushing the limits a bit too far at Turns 9 and 10, and Daniil Kvyat had to tread carefully backwards through the gravel after a spin.
Away from errors on track, Force India were having problems in the garage. Alfonso Cellis - replacing his compatriot Sergio Perez for FP1 - saw his session cut short by an electrical problem. It is expected that the issue will be resolved by the time Perez steps in the car after lunch.
Esteban Ocon was marooned in mid-table, 10th and 1.5 seconds off the pace.
In the dying seconds of the morning's session, Verstappen spun at the Remus Kurve, putting an end to a lap that started with a personal best first sector. But, at a track Red Bull haven't enjoyed much success at - despite sharing a name with the facility - the Dutchman will surely be content with second after his earlier troubles.
|2||Max VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull||1:06.165||+0.190||22|
|5||Daniel RICCIARDO||Red Bull||1:06.620||+0.620||31|
|8||Daniil KVYAT||Toro Rosso||1:07.437||+1.462||30|
|10||Esteban OCON||Force India||1:07.511||+1.536||38|
|13||Carlos SAINZ||Toro Rosso||1:07.633||+1.658||31|
|18||Alfonso CELLIS||Force India||1:09.280||+3.305||15|