Lewis Hamilton topped the times by half a second over title rival Sebastian Vettel in the first practice session ahead of the United States Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver set his fastest lap on the s placing him ahead of his title rival.
Hamilton has performed well in the past in Austin winning the last three races and once again it appears that the Circuit of the Americas will play to the strengths of Mercedes. The Englishman set his fastest time on the supersoft tyres going more than half a second faster than Vettel.
While Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest six tenths down, however, the Finn was compromised after he locked up into the first corner, meaning he had vibrations on the tyres. The track was damp meaning drivers started on the intermediate tyres.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne put a lap in on the ultrasofts to go fifth fastest, ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa by two tenths. Though it was a difficult morning for Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard’s running limited to one timed lap thanks to a hydraulic leak.
Kimi Raikkonen set his fastest time on the supersoft tyre going seventh fastest. Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth fastest, however, the Force India duo set their fastest times on the soft tyre, that left them almost one and a half seconds off the pace.
Carlos Sainz made an impressive start to his debut weekend for Renault, with him being over half a second faster than Nico Hulkenberg. However, Hulkenberg failed to get a clean lap in, ending the session thirteenth fastest.
Sainz faces a grid penalty because Renault fitted an upgraded engine featuring 2018 development parts.
Going into the weekend, Sainz had been downplaying his chances against the German saying he was expecting a tough fight. Sainz’s replacement Brendon Hartley was fourteenth which was a great effort given his limited time to prepare.
Hartley was up against the teams reserve driver Sean Geleal who was seventeenth one second off the pace. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was eighteenth ahead of Formula Two champion Charles Leclerc, who drove in place of Pascal Wehrlein.