Lewis Hamilton Proves Fastest in FP1 at United States Grand Prix
The Brit enters Austin with guns blazing.
Coming in hot off of a win in Japan just two weeks ago, Mercedes' ace Lewis Hamilton eclipsed the leaderboard after Friday's first practice for the United States Grand Prix. His time of 1m36.335s was enough to edge out fellow championship contender Sebastian Vettel by .593s while teammate Valtteri Bottas trails less than a tenth off of second place. Red Bull's Max Verstappen falls just outside the top three while McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne was able to notch a fifth-place finish in FP1 with a 1m37.352s lap.
Hamilton, who has won the USGP five times in his career, hopes to keep up his dominance amidst a heated race for the Drivers' Championship. As Vettel falls promptly behind him after the first run of the day, it appears as if Ferrari may have things sorted out following a string of problems in the last three races.
Rain fell early in the day forcing the field to first run on intermediate tires before switching to ultra-softs. Lead changes came in swings as Hamilton initially set the pace in the wet before Verstappen and eventually Felipe Massa, who finished sixth, trumped his time of 1m50.146s. Vettel was the first to run on dry tires, briefly holding the lead before Hamilton came along to perform the best lap of the day.
The midfield was represented well with the usual competitors of Force India, Renault, Haas F1, and Renault taking their respective and familiar spots. The Force India duo of Ocon and Perez claimed eighth and ninth accordingly, falling behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who struggled slightly and finished seventh. Carlos Sainz ran a best time of 1m50.146s in his Renault debut, placing him in tenth and three spots ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen worked his way to eleventh and Williams' youngster Lance Stroll finished in twelfth.
The bottom half consisted of Toro Rosso and Sauber, both of which are introducing new drivers at Austin. Brendon Hartley ran a 1m39.267s in his first time driving a Formula 1 car since 2012 while Red Bull sister driver Daniel Ricciardo fell in the standings to sixteenth after spinning off and eventually recovering without damage. McLaren star Fernando Alonso only completed 4 laps after the team discovered a hydraulic leak, knocking him to the twentieth position in FP1.