Lewis Hamilton takes wet United States Grand Prix practice
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News October 19, 2018 Updated: 1:37 PM PT
AUSTIN, Texas — As Formula One heads to the Lone Star state Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton kick things off by topping the opening free practice session ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.
Circuit of the Americas which celebrates it's sixth year hosting the United States Grand Prix with an action-packed weekend and could once again crown Lewis Hamilton world champion.
Hamilton walks into the weekend 67 points ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel, who has to finished second place or better to continue his title fight alive. Hamilton on the other hand only needs to score eight points secure a historic fifth world title.
The morning session started under wet conditions with the intermediate (green band) and wet (blue band) which are Pirelli’s tire choices for wet conditions. Hamilton finished with a — as more rain expected throughout most of the weekend ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas finished 1.304s behind Hamilton. Rounding up the top was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who finished 0.041s off Bottas and 1.345s from Hamilton.
Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo took fourth ahead of the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and sixth. Wet conditions hindered any chance of Ferrari gathering data on the new floor that was on Raikkonen’s car during the session. Renault ’s Carlos Sainz finished sixth ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean as the American team hopes to make their third home grand prix appearance since their 2016 season debut. Hoping to bring a positive result for the home crowd.
“I think the pressure is always on, to be fair. Different levels, obviously for the top guys to win the championship, and for us to go and try to get Renault in the Constructors’. It’s a great weekend, it’s going to be very busy, a lot of marketing commitments, but I think it’s a good that we’re here, racing here for an American team and coming this year with a competitive car compared to the first two years us great,” Grosjean said.
Sauber driver Charles Leclerc finished ninth but fell victim to the wet conditions after losing his car at Turn 8. The Monégasque driver took a trip thru the gravel which followed him as he made his way onto the track. The loose gravel on the track was enough to for the stewards to red flag the session.
Marcus Ericsson made it a package deal for Sauber finishing tenth ahead of McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris who continues get himself acquainted with F1 machinery as he prepares for his rookie debut next season.
Pierre Gasly finished 13th for Toro Rosso as he prepares to join Max Verstappen at Red Bull next season.
It’s a positive start to the weekend for Sergio Perez who ended the morning 14th and was announced that he will continue to drive for Force India after extending his contract with the team for the 2019 season.
Sergey Sirotkin finished 15th ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen in 16th and Perez’ Force India teammate Esteban Ocon who took 17th. Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, and Toro Rosso reserve driver Sean Gelael closed out the morning session in 18th, 19th, and 20th.