Free Practice 3 took place in treacherous conditions at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday morning as heavy rain continued to hamper the weekend’s running.
Full wet tyres were the only way to go throughout the hour-long session, and it was championship leader Lewis Hamilton who led the way, driving his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS machine around the track in a time of 1m59.517s, the only driver to get beneath the two-minute barrier.
Hamilton’s time was 0.863s faster than Sebastian Vettel, with the German driver being among a number of drivers to find themselves running off track, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver having three separate moments on two consecutive laps as the rain intensified further.
Nico Hulkenberg put in a strong performance to place third for the Sahara Force India team, just under a second back on the pace set by Hamilton, while Valtteri Bottas ended fourth for Williams Martini Racing.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr ended fifth ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh for Ferrari ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
Nico Rosberg ended the session ninth for Mercedes, but found himself in the barriers early after losing control of his car and spinning. The German broke his front wing in the incident but was able to return to the pits before returning to the track later in the session.
Felipe Massa completed the top ten for Williams, just ahead of Sergio Perez and the two Lotus drivers, Romain Grosjean ahead of Pastor Maldonado, while Fernando Alonso was the best placed McLaren-Honda driver in fourteenth.
Marcus Ericsson was fifteenth for Sauber ahead of Jenson Button, while Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi put their Manor cars ahead of Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen.
With qualifying seemingly in doubt due to worsening conditions in Texas, the grid for Sunday’s race could be set by the times from this session, which would see Hamilton on pole from Hulkenberg with Vettel set to take a grid penalty for an engine change.
Officials are hopeful that there will be a break in the weather to be able to run the session on Saturday, although there is also an opportunity to run the session on Sunday morning.
Circuit of the Americas Free Practice 3 Result
|3||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||2m00.496s|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||2m00.687s|
|6||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||2m00.694s|
|8||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||2m01.008s|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||2m02.660s|
|20||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||2m09.994s|