United States GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Free Practice 1 for the United States Grand Prix was shortened considerably as the session was delayed because fog prevented the medical helicopter from flying, started and run for 15 minutes, stopped because there were further problems with the helicopter, and finally restarted and run for 32 minutes.
At the end of all that stop/go, Fernando Alonso had clocked the fastest time in his Ferrari.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius.)
But the session did not start on time because it was too foggy for the medical helicopter to fly. So officials delayed the start by 10 minutes. They then delayed it a further 10 minutes. And then another 10. And another 10.
Finally, the officials announced that that FP1 would now commence 40 minutes after its scheduled time and last 60 minutes.
Substitutions for FP1 were: Daniil Kvyat replacing Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso; Rodolfo Gonzales in the Marussia instead of Jules Bianchi; and Alexander Rossi in the Caterham instead of Guido van der Garde.
Heikki Kovalainen, who will drive the Lotus for the last two races of the season as Kimi Raikkonen is going to have back surgery, was the first out on the 20-turn 3.425-mile (5.513-km) Circuit of The Americas.
Jenson Button clocked the first lap time of the session, setting a 1:41.943 in his McLaren. He then lowered that to a 1:40.468. His soon to be ex-teammate Sergio Perez slotted into second with a time of 1:46.135. Rossi was a distant third with a time of 1:54.688. Button, meanwhile, lowered his time to a 1:39.493 while Perez improved to a 1:39.672.
12 minutes into the session, these were the only three drivers to set a lap time as everybody else had just done installation laps.
Then Nico Hulkenberg joined the party, taking third place with a 1:43.036 in his Sauber, and Charles Pic (Caterham) set the fifth fastest time at 1:49.661.
15 minutes into the session, the red flag stopped the session as there were further problems with the medical helicopter. It was a mechanical problem of some sort because the fog had burned away by this stage.
So the top five, and the only five to set a time, were: Button, Perez, Hulkenberg, Rossi and Pic.
Eventually another helicopter appeared but the session remained under red flag conditions. Perhaps it was not a medical chopper. It wasn't.
With 33 minutes into the session, another medical helicopter arrived. The session restarted a minute later, so the drivers and teams had 32 minutes to get their work done.
Esteban Gutierrez got things rolling in his Sauber. Within a couple of minutes everybody except Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) was on the track.
They were running Pirelli's hard compound slick with the orange sidewalls.
With 25 minutes remaining in the session, all 22 drivers were in action.
With 22 minutes remaining in the session, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) beat Button's previous number one time with a 1:38.767. And Valtteri Bottas slid into second with a 1:38.901 in his Williams. Button turned a 1:39.063 for third place.
With 19 minutes remaining in the session, Alonso improved to a 1:38.343 and Bottas to a 1:38.802. Bottas later lowered that to a 1:38.388.
The action on the track was frantic as the drivers tried to get as many laps as possible in during the shortened session.
With 15 minutes remaining in the session, the top six were: Alonso, Bottas, Button, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Mark Webber (Red Bull) and Hulkenberg.
With 10 minutes remaining in the session, things quieted down a bit as the drivers headed to the pits for adjustments on their cars.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, the Mercedes boys were on the move as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took over fifth and sixth spots. Alonso, Bottas, Button and Gutierrez held the top four slots.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Button grabbed second with a time of 1:38.371.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Gonzales parked his Marussia at Turn 13.
The top 10 at the end of the delayed and shortened FP1 were: Alonso, Button, Bottas, Gutierrez, Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Webber, Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado (Williams.)