Verstappen sets the pace in US GP first practice

by Sudha Sundararaj

Max Verstappen finished on top of the time charts at the 2019 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas  in the first free practice session. Sebastian Vettel was in second position with Alexander Albon in third position.

The ninety-minute long first free practice session started under clear skies but cold conditions with air temperatures at nine degrees C and track temperatures at fifteen degrees C.

The Pirelli tyre choice at this race is the white-striped hard compound tyres (C2), yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C3), and red-striped soft compound tyres (C4). The drivers were given an extra set of the 2020 prototype soft compound tyres for testing.

The circuit has sunk since its debut on the Formula 1 calendar in 2012 which has created bumps at different places. Lewis Hamilton complained about these bumps to the pitwall on his installation lap.

The Ferrari, Renault drivers and Verstappen were out on the 2020 prototype tyres. The Haas drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, set the initial pace with Grosjean at the top of the time charts with a lap time of 1m37.356s.

The two Red Bull drivers were soon on the medium compound tyres and Albon displaced Grosjean at the top of the time charts even though one of his fast lap times was deleted because he fell foul of the track limits at Turn 19.

The other drivers were on the medium compound tyres now except for the Renault drivers on the soft compound tyres.

Charles Leclerc after informing the pitwall that he was experiencing problems with his power unit was in the garage and did not set a timed lap early.

Nicolas Latifi was participating in place of George Russell for Williams and brought out the yellow flags briefly and limped back to the pits with a reliability issue.

With forty-five minutes to go, Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were finally on the track with Sainz spinning at Turn 5 on his opening lap. Vettel went to the top of the time charts one second clear of Albon with a lap time of 1m34.226s on the soft compound tyres

Verstappen on a set of soft compound tyres went ahead of Vettel with a gap of 0.169 seconds. Leclerc was second behind the Dutchman but his lap time was deleted as he exceeded track limits.

With twelve minutes to go, Valtteri Bottas was on the soft compound tyres but with a mistake on his flying lap the Finn was in fourteenth position. Hamilton was languishing in sixteenth position and he was still on the 2020 prototype tyres.

In the final minutes of the session most of the cars were on race simulations. Hamilton finally bolted on the soft compound tyres and went fourth fastest, but his lap was deleted for exceeding track limits. In the dying minutes, Hamilton finished in eighth position.

Pierre Gasly finished in fourth position with another good performance since his return to Toro Rosso. Daniel Ricciardo finished in fifth position even as team-mate Nico Hulkenberg languished in sixteenth position after hydraulic issues.

Leclerc and Lance Stroll finished in seventh and ninth positions. Grosjean and Magnussen finished in sixth and tenth positions at the home race for the Haas F1 team. Verstappen finished the session on top with Vettel and Albon in second and third positions.

The afternoon session will take place at a similar time as the qualification session and the race and will reveal more about the pecking order for this weekend.

2019 United States Grand Prix Free Practice 1 Results:

133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda01:34.05726
25Sebastian VettelFerrari01:34.226+0.169s30
323Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda01:34.316+0.259s28
410Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda01:35.008+0.951s32
53Daniel RicciardoRenault01:35.263+1.206s29
68Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari01:35.356+1.299s24
716Charles LeclercFerrari01:35.380+1.323s23
844Lewis HamiltonMercedes01:35.439+1.382s32
918Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes01:35.586+1.529s31
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari01:35.659+1.602s23
1126Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda01:35.661+1.604s31
1255Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault01:35.723+1.666s26
137Kimi R„ikk”nenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari01:35.854+1.797s22
1411Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes01:35.971+1.914s29
1599Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari01:36.037+1.980s26
1627Nico HulkenbergRenault01:36.124+2.067s24
1777Valtteri BottasMercedes01:36.159+2.102s40
184Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault01:36.263+2.206s23
1988Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes01:37.948+3.891s28
2040Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes01:41.112+7.055s7

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