The opening session of round 17 for the 2014 Formula One championship was topped by Lewis Hamilton. After lapping the Circuit of The Americas just 3 tenths of a second faster than Rosberg, Lewis has ensured he has the first foot ahead in the States.
There was a three-week break between the Russian Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix but in that time a lot has happened in the world of Formula One. Both Marussia & Caterham have fallen into administration due to financial difficulties and as a result have been forced to miss the US Grand Prix and the Brazilian GP next week. Meaning just 18 drivers are competing in America.
With less drivers competing, the FIA have decided to change the qualifying regulations for the two races with just four drivers being eliminated in Q1 and Q2. Leaving 10 cars to still compete in the pole position shoot out.
For the nine teams still competing in Austin, the green light flicked on at 10AM local time and the opening session was underway.
Although even with this came some differences. Both Toro Rosso and Williams opted to use the opening practice session to provide their young drivers with some Formula One track time. At Toro Rosso, Max Verstappen was handed his second FP1 session in place of Jean-Eric Vergne. Whilst at Williams, Felipe Nasr was handed the session in place of Valtteri Bottas. As for Lotus, they were looking ahead to 2015 by running a Mercedes styled front nose on Grosjean’s car.
After the drivers hit the track for their installation runs, lap times slowly hit the leaderboard. The first of which was posted by Nico Rosberg, although his slow 1:50:219 was swiftly beaten by Hamilton’s 1:49:164.
Like Lotus with their new front nose design, the early part of the session was littered with teams preparing for next season. One of the more interesting pieces of R&D equipment being used was down at Ferrari with Raikkonen. Here they had a sheet of metal running across the car just behind the steering wheel, possibly in preparation for the higher cockpits next year.
As the times began to fall, the team making the early inroads to a flying time were McLaren as both drivers occupied the top two positions. Magnussen and Button would clearly have been happy with the early indications they were getting from the car. And luckily for them, the car remained close to the front for the remainder of the session.
As the opening hour began to close out, the Mercedes pair were moving their way up and towards locking out the top once again. First up came Hamilton who moved ahead of Button for the top spot, whilst Rosberg had to settle for slotting into second.
However, he could still take comfort in being out on track with 30 minutes remaining. A feeling Ricciardo was not feeling with his Red Bull in the garage, following a ERS problem.
Over the course of the session multiple drivers faced a wobble here or there with some on more than one occasion. Some of the drivers struggling to stay on the tarmac the most included the Lotus duo. But even when Button was topping the time sheet, he faced the occasional off track adventure and Alonso suffered a couple of slides as he rounded of a lap. For Alonso, his slides came courtesy of his Ferrari struggling to get the power down.
As the session’s timer began to approach 0 seconds remaining, the Lotus duo were at it again with both venturing out into the run off. For Grosjean a big slide at turn 19 led the Frenchman to question if he had a puncture of broken suspension. But for Maldonado he span down at turn 6 simply after running over the kerbs.
In the end, it was another Mercedes one-two come the chequered flag with Hamilton on top. Rosberg and Button finished the session in close proximity for second and third. Whilst Kvyat secured a high-end with fourth place.
|7||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:41.463||1.522||20|
|9||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.722||1.781||24|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:42.359||2.418||23|
|17||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:42.598||2.657||5|