Mercedes have an “interesting” free practice session, as Hamilton ends first day fastest

by Ellie Jane

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, made a quiet start to the 2019 United States Grand Prix weekend, as the first session saw their drivers run the new 2020 tyres.

However, free practice two, saw Lewis Hamilton take first, but Valtteri Bottas slightly off the pace in fifth.

Hamilton, had two mixed sessions, as he called the first practice at the Circuit of the Americas “interesting” as he tested the new tyres for the FIA 2020 Formula 1 season. However, expressed that the second session was “more of a normal session” as he topped the timesheets.

It was pretty cold out there on the track today, but at least the sun came out,” said Hamilton. The first session was interesting as we tried the 2020 tyres. Free Practice 2 was more of a normal session and it actually went quite smoothly.

Hamilton explained that the track is not as smooth which led him to have a bad session in the first practice. However, he said that the changes that were made, led to his W10 feeling better, resulting in him taking a time of 1:33.232 in Free Practice 2.

The track is very bumpy this year – bumps can add character to a circuit, so I’m not a fan of completely smooth circuits, but the bumps here are just massive. The problem for the drivers is that we don’t have really much suspension, it doesn’t really move very much, so it feel like sitting straight on the floor and your spine takes a lot of compression. The bumps felt pretty bad in Free Practice 1, but we made some changes to make it feel a little bit better for the afternoon session

Hamilton conveyed that he is looking forward to the weekend as he aims to win his six world title to surpass Juan Manuel Fangio. He said, however, that Mercedes still have a lot of work to do but was hopeful that the team could pull off a strong Saturday with qualifying.

I’m looking forward to the weekend – I love this track in general and the car felt fairly decent today. However, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, so we will dig through the data tonight and hopefully we can be strong tomorrow.”

Bottas communicated that the first free practice session, like his teammate, was to do with development as he also used the new tyres by Pirelli due to be used in 2020. He said the 2020 tyres were quite interesting as Mercedes aimed not to focus on the lap times. Bottas, also spoke on the temperature explaining that it was cold and it can affect the car’s performance.

This morning was all about development work for next year, so the lap times didn’t really matter. We were focusing on gathering data on the new tyres which was quite interesting and just went through our programme without worrying too much about lap times. It was very cold this morning and while it still gets pretty warm in the car and you can break a sweat, the cold track temps make it very tricky to warm up the tyres.

Bottas, also, declared that the track in Texas was very bumpy, suggesting that the rear end of the car was not able to be stable through the likes of turn five and six as they were high-speed.

The track was very bumpy in certain areas, especially through Turns 5 and 6 – which is a high-speed section, so if the rear end of the car is not stable enough because of the bumps it can be tough. Braking into Turn 1 on a bumpy track is also not easy as you have to modulate the braking effort very precisely.

In the second session it saw him off his teammate, as he finished in fifth, with a time of 1:34.045.

It looks pretty close between the teams at the top, but I personally struggled a bit in FP2. I lost some time on the straights and the car didn’t feel quite right, so that’s something we will have to look at tonight.

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