USGP | Hamilton on top again, Vettel closes gap in FP3

Three from three as Lewis Hamilton tops FP3 for the USGP.

A one hundred percent record for Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit of The Americas in 2017, as the potential drivers’ champion once again tops a free practice session for the United States Grand Prix. But, following a chassis change, Sebastian Vettel drew closer to his title-rival. Ending the hour within a tenth of a second to the Brit.

Lewis, having set the pace in both Friday practice sessions, initially came home on his first flyer of the day in third place. Crossing the line behind the two Finns of Raikkonen and Bottas after a small lock up in the opening sector.

Hamilton continued to push thereafter to edge away from the pace-setting Raikkonen after 20-minutes had passed. Having seen the Finn demote Vettel by nearly a second on their upcoming runs. Though, Sebastian too improved to go P2 four-tenths down.

Qualifying runs later into the session again saw Ferrari go top of the timesheet. With Vettel and Raikkonen both usurping the benchmark set by Hamilton a third of the way through the hour.

However, once more the Silver Arrows moved up the order to eclipse the Prancing Horse. As Hamilton again reclaimed the fastest lap honours with a new COTA track record. Bettering his FP2 effort, with Vettel just nine-tenths behind.

Having set a new track record again, Hamilton remained pushing with quarter of an hour remaining of the session. Although, as he entered the final 15 and asked if anyone was improving on their times – to which, they were not – Lewis ran excessively wide at the penultimate corner on way to a purple final sector.

Hamilton was not alone in exploiting the track space on offer beyond the exit kerb at the penultimate corner, either. With drivers finding more time off track than on it, as they carry greater speed with the wider line.

After a late start for Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman confirmed to be taking a grid penalty, the Red Bull ace hit the track mid-way through the session. Immediately running wide at the first corner, where again track limits were being exploited.

Verstappen also suffered a moment through the first sector esses as a tailwind destabilised his car. Yet not as much as Romain Grosjean just seconds after, as the Frenchman spun into the gravel and beached his Haas.

Ruiling the Frenchman out of the remainder of the session after just 30-minutes and triggering an impromptu Virtual Safety Car period as his car was recovered.

“Oh ******, sorry,” said a frustrated Grosjean ahead of exiting his Haas.

Sebastian Vettel may have ended the hour within a tenth of a second of the pace-setting Lewis Hamilton. But the German’s resurgence following a chassis change was not met without any hiccups as the former Red Bull racer pulled into his rivals pit box rather than his Ferrari’s zone.

An honest mistake by the four-time drivers’ champion. Who put this error down to a lack of attention as he adjusted settings on his steering wheel.

Pos Driver Team Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 15 1’34.478
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 19 1’34.570 0.092
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 17 1’34.692 0.214
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 17 1’34.755 0.277
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 14 1’35.103 0.625
6 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 11 1’35.346 0.868
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 21 1’35.608 1.13
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault Renault 16 1’35.650 1.172
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG 17 1’35.723 1.245
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 16 1’35.802 1.324
11 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 17 1’35.965 1.487
12 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 12 1’36.118 1.64
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 15 1’36.239 1.761
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 14 1’36.599 2.121
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Renault 26 1’36.818 2.34
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 16 1’37.271 2.793
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 17 1’37.319 2.841
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 15 1’37.807 3.329
19 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 9 1’37.891 3.413
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 6 1’38.500 4.022

 

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