Lewis Hamilton sets the pace again at the United States Grand Prix.
New lid, new lap record for Lewis Hamilton at the USGP. Changing his shade to red, but posting purple to edge Max Verstappen by four-tenths of a second whilst title-rival Vettel spun into the gravel.
Hamilton’s fastest time of the day, a 1:34.668, came half an hour into the second practice session for the USGP. Usurping his own 2016 pole time by three-tenths of a second, and likely not the fastest lap of the weekend to come.
At the time, FP1 pace-setting Hamilton’s lap bettered the then best time posted by Valtteri Bottas by nine-tenths of a second as the Briton improved by 1.8-seconds over his early soft tyre time.
Valtteri improved to a 1:35.279 moments after Hamilton’s absolute track record lap. A margin wide enough for Verstappen and Vettel to slot between. With their team-mate’s following Bottas in sitting half a second down on their stable-mates come the chequered flag.
Vettel, meanwhile, had a fraught first run as he spun at the penultimate corner. Locking up and heavily flat spotting his Pirelli tyres as he came to a halt in the gravel.
Vettel’s spin after 20-minutes left the German in the Ferrari garage for most of the early running. But not after hitting the radio with a pessimistic “I think you saw that”.
Sebastian was not alone in spinning during the early stages, either. With drivers’ struggling with the bumpy track conditions left by the un-resurfaced tarmac.
Among those to spin during the opening half hour of second free practice were the Haas pair of Grosjean and Magnussen. Who spun at turns 11 and 19 respectively, before tripping other each other as Kevin looked for track space while on the softs rather than the supersofts fitted to his Frenchman team-mate.
“Can he get out the way please? asked Magnussen as he trailed Grosjean.
“Superbly intelligent from Kevin,” sniggered Romain after Kevin dove down his inside at the double apex Turn 15.
Despite setting the pace in FP2, issues befell Lewis Hamilton late into the session amidst a string of long-run laps.
Hitting the radio as the hour mark hit to report his engine de-rating. An issue that has emerged in his Mercedes regularly in recent rounds and hampered his defence to the eventual Malaysia Grand Prix winner, Max Verstappen.
Bottas, meanwhile, was asked how his tyres were performing as the final 10 minutes began.
“Feels normal – what do you mean exactly?” came the response from a slightly perplexed Valtteri, with the Finn informed his pace was marginally down on what the strategy engineer had expected.
Stoffel Vandoorne, too, was on the radio late into the session as his McLaren engineers requested he stayed off the orange sausage kerbs after noting damage to Fernando’s car that required a change of nose.
Elsewhere, F1 debutant Brendon Hartley ended the session over a second down on Daniil Kvyat as the Russian returned to Toro Rosso. Bettering the times of Magnussen, Vandoorne and Stroll.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||1’35.065||0.397||30|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||1’35.463||0.795||24|
|9||Sergio Pérez||Force India||Mercedes||1’36.481||1.813||28|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||1’36.490||1.822||34|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Renault||1’36.761||2.093||40|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||Renault||1’37.987||3.319||41|