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United States GP 2014

OCTOBER 31, 2014

Practice 2 Report - It was that close

Lewis Hamilton, United States GP 2014
© Terry Griffin, The Cahier Archive

Lewis Hamilton edged out his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by just 0.003 of a second in Free Practice 2. It was that close. The gap to third place Fernando Alonso and Ferrari was not close at all but rather 1.1 seconds. All was not well for Hamilton, however, as he had to head for the garages with a mechanical problem on his car as the session wound down.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade.)

No reserve drivers in FP2, so Valtteri Bottas was in his Williams, and Jean-Eric Vergne was in his Toro Rosso. And an anxious Bottas was the first out on the track. And he soon set a time to aim at 1:44.520.

The 18 car line-up was as follows: Red Bull Renault Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo; Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg; Ferrari Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen; Lotus Renault Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado; McLaren Mercedes Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen; Force India Mercedes Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez; Sauber Ferrari Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez; Toro Rosso Renault Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat; Williams Mercedes Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.

7 minutes into the session, Button chopped two seconds off of Bottas' time with a 1:42.427. Ricciardo, who had spent time in the pits during FP1 with an ERS problem, was still in the pits. Magnussen soon grabbed second place with a 1:42.767.

It was gusty out there. Button radioed: "Wind is playing a big part, wind playing a big part."

11 minutes into the session, only Vettel had not ventured out as his teammate Ricciardo took to the track. Vettel had a new engine installed and it was his sixth of the season. That meant he would have to start the race from pit lane. The team saw no reason to put excess mileage on the engine in practice and qualifying.

12 minutes into the session, Massa spun and continued at Turn 1.

15 minutes into the session, Hamilton, who had been quickest in FP1, now went quickest in FP2 with a time of 1:40.993.

All times were being set with the drivers using the medium compound Pirelli.

20 minutes into the session, Hamilton lowered the bar to 1:40.615, and Rosberg was now second with a 1:41.499.

22 minutes into the session, Rosberg took first place with a 1:40.078. Magnussen was now third at 1:41.616, and Alonso fourth at 1:41.861. So Rosberg was half a second quicker than Hamilton and 1.5 seconds quicker than Magnussen.

29 minutes into the session, Grosjean spun in Turn 1. "Are you sure that things are working properly?" he radioed the Lotus crew.

Just past the one-third mark, the top six were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Magnussen, Button, Alonso and Vergne.

34 minutes into the session, Raikkonen was the only driver on track, but Vettel was getting ready to head out.

36 minutes into the session, Magnussen started lapping on the soft compound Pirelli slicks with the yellow sidewalls. He chopped a second off his time as he clocked a 1:40.641. Vettel meanwhile had finally left the garage.

39 minutes into the session, Gutierrez used the softs to climb to fourth only to have Hulkenberg grab the spot. The soft tires were worth about a second a lap, as Ricciardo proved by snatching second place with a 1:40.390.

43 minutes into the session, Rosberg clocked a 1:39.088 on the softs. Next, Hamilton tried the softs and got down to a 1:39.141. So on the softs the Mercedes cars were 1.3 seconds quicker than the nearest opposition which was Ricciardo's Red Bull.

So just past the midpoint of FP3 the top six were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Button and Hulkenberg.

With 43 minutes remaining in the session, Maldonado spun at Turn 19.

With 41 minutes remaining in the session, Kvyat popped up to fifth and Alonso to third.

With 39 minutes remaining in the session, Massa moved into fifth and Raikkonen into sixth. And then Hamilton clocked a 1:39.085 which was 0.003 seconds quicker than his teammate.

With 36 minutes remaining in the session, more problems for Grosjean. "I lost the KERS at the end of the lap," he radioed.

At the one hour mark the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Massa and Raikkonen. Kvyat, Magnussen, Button and Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.

The last third of the session was devoted to long runs to check the tire life of the medium and soft compounds. Both Mercedes drivers reported minor gearbox problems.

With 21 minutes remaining in the session, almost everybody was on track, but Hamilton was soon not to be one of them as his team told him to pit because there was a problem with the car.

With 17 minutes remaining in the session, Raikkonen reported that he had clutch problems and smelled oil.

With 14 minutes remaining in the session, only Hamilton and Vettel were not on the track.

With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel was lapping but Hamilton was done for the day.

The top 10 at the end of FP2 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Massa, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Magnussen, Button and Hulkenberg.