Max Verstappen of Red Bull led Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the second tests at the Styria Grand Prix.
The Dutchman dominated Bottas by only 0.043 seconds, the Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll third and fourth.
Daniel Ricciardo of Renault had a heavy accident at the new corner at the start of the session, and limped away from the car.
World champion Lewis Hamilton was only sixth, unhappy with the balance of his Mercedes and his fastest lap.
The teams tried harder than usual during the session as there is an outside chance to set the order of the grid if the cars cannot race in the rain forecast on Saturday.
However, this is still an unlikely scenario, as there are a number of potential solutions if the qualifications are eliminated.
Verstappen was impressive on short and long runs, beating Bottas on his qualifying lap, and then doing laps at a very similar rate when they went into race preparation, although he was on the harder medium tire with Finn on the slack.
Hamilton said: “It seemed relatively normal but it was far enough away. There is a lot of work to do to find out why. I felt pretty good in P1 and at the start of P2, but it started to drop. The others seem to be fast enough or we have slowed down. ”
The pace of Racing Point has heightened their ascent to become real contenders this season with a car that has been dubbed the “pink Mercedes” for its resemblance to the winning car from last year’s world championship.
Perez was only 0.217 seconds off the beat, Stroll having his usual 0.3 s roughly behind his teammate.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz finished fifth, ahead of Hamilton and Alexander Albon’s second Red Bull, who had two laps during the day.
Charles Leclerc was the fastest Ferrari in ninth place after testing a new front fender and a new floor, the first in a series of developments planned to come in the car aimed at reducing the lack of performance it suffered during the opening race of the season.
His teammate Sebastian Vettel was in 16th position. Leclerc is ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
It is the first time in F1 history that a circuit has organized two races in one season, this weekend’s event bearing the name of the region in which the Red Bull Ring is located, at the following the Austrian Grand Prix last Sunday.