lewis hamilton f1

Austin FP1: Hamilton strikes first

lewis hamilton f1

Lewis Hamilton made a quick start to his U.S. Grand Prix preparations with the fastest time in first Friday practice for a key race in the title battle with Mercedes team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

The triple world champion lapped the Circuit of the Americas, in gusty conditions, putting in a best time of 1:37.428 seconds late in the session to knock the German off the top.

Rosberg, the title favourite who leads the Briton by 33 points with four races remaining, was second on the time sheets and 0.315 of a second slower.

Hamilton has won three of the last four races in Austin, taking his third title at the Texan track last year, but he desperately needs another victory on Sunday to revive his flagging hopes of a fourth crown.

Even that will not be enough if Rosberg finishes the remaining races in the runner-up position, and the German has said he is not about to settle for second best as he chases a 10th win of the year.

Red Bull’s Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was third fastest – albeit a whopping two seconds down on Hamilton’s benchmark time with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth.

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Verstappen’s best time was still 1.6 seconds slower than Rosberg, albeit on medium tyres, with Mercedes – who clinched their third successive constructors’ title in Japan two weeks ago – on softs and again in a battle of their own.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, like Hamilton a past winner in Austin, was only eighth fastest. The German hit a kerb, smashing bodywork, and drove back to the pits one-handed while holding the remnants of his right side mirror in the other.

Britain’s Jordan King made his Formula One practice debut with Manor Racing, setting the 20th fastest time out of 22, while Germany’s Pascal Wehrlein sitting out the session before returning in the afternoon.

Three drivers – Hulkenberg, Manor’s Esteban Ocon and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas – tried out the new ‘halo’ head protection device on their cars early in the session.

United States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americas – Friday, Free Practice 1

POSNODRIVERCARTIMEGAPLAPS
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:37.42825
26Nico RosbergMERCEDES1:37.743+0.315s27
333Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:39.379+1.951s28
47Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI1:39.407+1.979s21
527Nico HulkenbergFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:39.712+2.284s27
677Valtteri BottasWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:39.776+2.348s30
73Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:39.963+2.535s26
85Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:39.988+2.560s15
926Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO FERRARI1:40.131+2.703s16
1055Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO FERRARI1:40.140+2.712s26
1119Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:40.191+2.763s27
1212Felipe NasrSAUBER FERRARI1:40.287+2.859s16
1314Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN HONDA1:40.362+2.934s26
148Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:40.826+3.398s15
1521Esteban GutierrezHAAS FERRARI1:40.970+3.542s15
169Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI1:41.170+3.742s17
1734Alfonso CelisFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:41.422+3.994s27
1822Jenson ButtonMCLAREN HONDA1:41.663+4.235s21
1920Kevin MagnussenRENAULT1:41.942+4.514s22
2042Jordan KingMRT MERCEDES1:42.012+4.584s29
2130Jolyon PalmerRENAULT1:42.332+4.904s31
2231Esteban OconMRT MERCEDES1:43.874+6.446s27