Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session for the United States Grand Prix. The world champion was three tenths faster than his team-mate Nico Rosberg with the Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third.
Hamilton hasn’t managed to top a practice session since August and looked to have a good gap over team-mate Rosberg on both the soft and supersoft tyres at a circuit which suits his driving style. The brit needs to win this race realistically if he is going to retain his title.
It was close between Hamilton and Rosberg as usual the pair began trading lap times on the soft tyres, before Hamilton produced a lap soon after that remained unbeaten.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, almost two seconds off the pace of the Mercedes. The gap should close up as we head through the weekend but it may be a tall order for Red Bull to close the whole gap. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth.
Red Bull didn’t run the faster tyres so maybe slightly faster when they use the supersoft tyres.
But the team were only a few tenths off the pace of Red Bull. Nico Hulkenberg was fifth fastest for Force India. Valtteri Bottas was sixth and Daniel Ricciardo seventh two and half seconds down. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel provided the only drama of the session on his way to seventh.
The German ran wide at the penultimate corners shaking his car as he ran over the rumble strips, which caused bodywork to come loose and hit his mirror. This meant he had to hang on while he returned to the pits.
Both the Toro Rosso’s finished in the top ten, with Daniil Kvyat ahead of Carlos Sainz. The pair was separated by just nine thousandths of a second on the super-soft compound.
Haas who are hoping to get a good result at their first home race were outside the top ten. Romain Grosjean was fourteenth and Esteban Gutierrez fifteenth three and a half seconds down. But the session for the two ended in drama with both of them being wheeled back into the garage from the end of the pit lane where they had come to a stop.
Jordan King made his debut in practice in place of Pascal Wehrlein in twentieth. The brit is said to be in contention for one of the seats at the team next season and it was his first chance to drive during a race weekend.
Alfonso Celis was in for Sergio Perez in the Force India finishing seventeenth.