Hamilton tops extremely wet final practice

by Paul Hensby

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

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m59.517s
25Sebastian VettelGERFerrari2m00.380s
327Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes2m00.496s
477Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes2m00.523s
555Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault2m00.687s
626Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault2m00.694s
77Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari2m00.785s
83Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault2m01.008s
96Nico RosbergGERMercedes2m01.474s
1019Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes2m02.199s
1111Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes2m02.660s
128Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes2m02.825s
1313Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes2m02.921s
1414Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda2m03.375s
159Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari2m04.399s
1622Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda2m05.283s
1728Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari2m05.378s
1853Alexander RossiUSAManor-Ferrari2m05.607s
1912Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari2m06.792s
2033Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault2m09.994s

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