For the second time today, it is Lewis Hamilton with his name above the rest after topping the second free practice session for the United States Grand Prix. The switch of tyres from prime to softs saw Hamilton gain the advantage once more, leaving Rosberg and the rest behind, although Rosberg was just three thousandths of a second back.
Marussia and Caterham both fell into administration during the break and as a result will be missing the United States GP. But out of the 18-men competing in FP1, Lewis gained the early advantage in Austin after topping the session by three tenths of a second. Rosberg finished the session in second place, whilst Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen enjoyed the feel of an F1 car once more.
However come the second practice session, Nasr and Verstappen were out with Vergne and Bottas returning to their cockpits. Valtteri was wasting any time in FP2 as he, along with Grosjean and Button, immediately took to the track when the green light flicked on. As well as posting the first time of the session, a 1:44:534.
Over the opening 10 minutes, most of the field had ventured out for their early laps and with that, the early benchmark began to fall.
Button had shined in the opening session for McLaren and that was continuing at the start of FP2. The Brit swiftly moved the early benchmark down to a 1:42, before his team-mate slotted into second and more times hit the board.
Over the next few laps, as drivers became more accustomed to the wind conditions, the benchmark fell again and again. Button had reported over the team radio that he was struggling at both ends due to the wind. And he was not alone, with Ricciardo claiming to be struggling with the rear-end control of his Red Bull.
As for the fastest lap times, Magnussen managed to fly pass Button’s time but would only hold on to the top spot momentarily. This time the top spot exchanged to the hands of Hamilton. Yet even the Brit who is currently leading the F1 drivers championship could not hold on for too long, despite breaking into the 1:40’s. By a vast margin compared to what had previously been shown, Rosberg rocketed to the top spot and rocketed the benchmark closer to the 1:39’s with the soft tyres still yet to be seen.
Those soft tyres did however hit the track just inside the second third of the session and with the addition of the soft compound, the times dropped even further with some drivers finding around or over a second each compared to the mediums.
One of the drivers who found a heap of time from the off set was Rosberg who lowered the benchmark into the 1:39’s. But his lead was just five hundredths of a second after Hamilton hammered home a flying lap to close the gap.
With Rosberg now within touching distance following Hamilton’s flying lap, the Brit kept pushing hard and soon found the small bit of time he needed to move ahead. A lap time of 1:29:085 was all Hamilton needed to take P1 away Nico, and leave a gap of just three thousandths of a second.
Ricciardo had been able to split the Silver Arrows before Hamilton’s second place worthy lap, but still remained just a few tenths behind. Although, even that was enough for Alonso to slot in for third place and push the Aussie back down the order.
As the final thirty minutes begun, the flying lap times ran dry as race simulation laps began. This left Hamilton with another session topping lap time to go hand in hand with his one from FP1.
However, despite being in the top two slots, things were far from perfect at Mercedes. Both Rosberg and Hamilton had radioed the team within minutes to report they were suffering with gearbox issues. Rosberg was suffering a downshift problem at the final corner. Whereas Hamilton was suffering a shift issue as he went from fourth gear into fifth.
As the session continued to tick on, the problems on board Hamilton’s car appeared to be more serious. Lewis had returned to his garage soon after reporting his gear selection issue, but with quarter of an hour remaining the floor was off his car with mechanics deep at work.
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:40.390||1.305||30|
|10||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.800||1.715||25|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.123||2.038||35|
|18||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:43.980||4.895|