Carlos Sainz started the weekend of the 2022 United States Grand in proper fashion topping FP1 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It was a drama free session, and in the end Carlos Sainz went fastest of all with a lap time of 1:36.857, as Max Verstappen had to settle for second fastest, 0.224s off the pace.
Seven-time Champion Lewis Hamilton was third fastest in the upgraded Mercedes, 0.475s down on Sainz’s time in the Ferrari.
Buildup towards FP1
Formula 1 lands stateside as the 2022 season heads towards its final four races, starting with the United States Grand Prix in Austin this being its tenth iteration.
Part of the excitement is understandably gone, as Max Verstappen wrapped up the Drivers’ Title at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka a fortnight ago, but with the Red Bull cost cap breach subject still not close to any conclusions, intrigue and controversy were in abundancy at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
Also there is still the Constructors’ Championship to be secured, but it is only a matter of time until Red Bull bag that one as well, their first since 2013.
With the bumpy nature of COTA, it will be interesting to watch out how the 2022 F1 cars fare with their firm suspension settings and tendency to bounce.
Mercedes announced that they are bringing their final upgrade package for their W13, and despite the team insisting it won’t be a game changer, the Silver Cars would be worth monitoring to see how perform.
This is going to be a busy opening session at Austin. 😅
We’ve got tweaks to the floor and rear-wing of the W13 this weekend.
Lewis fitted with aero rakes on this opening run, collecting data as we continue our learning for 2023. 📊 pic.twitter.com/WPioucdGaN
There were some driver changes for FP1 at COTA, with Logan Sargeant making his second F1 appearance with Williams replacing Nicholas Latifi. He first drove an F1 car with Williams in Abu Dhabi last year during the post-season test.
Charles Leclerc will make way for Robert Shwartzman at Ferrari, while Alex Palou will take over Ricciardo’s McLaren.
Theo Pourchaire will deputize for Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo and Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Kevin Magnussen at Haas.
As mentioned, Mercedes are debuting their final upgrade package in Austin, and that includes a new front wing, floor fences, floor edge and rear wing end-plate.
Mercedes brought only one new wing to Austin, as the team would not have enough time for back to back tests with the tyres test scheduled for FP2.
Alpine also has a new floor edge, while Alfa Romeo brought a new floor body.
Just ahead of FP1, it was confirmed that Charles Leclerc will be taking a new power unit, meaning a start from the back of the grid for the Monegasque. Carlos Sainz is also expected to have new components and a grid drop as well.
But 10 minutes into the session, Giovinazzi binned the Haas at Turn 6 bringing out the first Red flag of the weekend, but was able to get going limping back to the pits. Magnussen won’t be happy with this.
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩
We have a brief stoppage, as Antonio Giovinazzi spins into the wall at Turn 6