United States GP 2016

OCTOBER 21, 2016

Practice 1 Report - Hold nothing back


By Dan Knutson in Austin

Lewis Hamilton has gone five races without a victory, and he trails Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 33 points heading into the United States Grand Prix weekend. Hamilton's action plan is to hold nothing back, and he set it in motion by setting the fastest lap time in Free Practice 1.

"We've got four races left to make the most of it and that's exactly what I plan to do," he said before FP1 began. "It's just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there. I'll be holding nothing back out there.

"First up, we're back in the States, which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can't wait to get started. I've got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt. It's almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I'll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend."

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade.) There was zero percent chance of rain.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes “ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari “ Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes “ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer “ Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes “ Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault “ Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari “ Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari “ Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda “ Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes “ Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari “ Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Two test drivers took part in FP1 as Alfonso Celis drove Perez's Force India, and Jordan King, making his F1 weekend testing debut, replaced Wehrlein in the Manor.

The drivers had the choice of Pirelli's medium, soft and super soft slicks to used aroung the 3.425-mile (5.513 km) 20-turn track.

Bottas and Vettel were the first out under sunny skies. Bottas had a white-painted Halo fitted to his Williams. Kvyat used the standard black halo on his STR. Verstappen, meanwhile, had huge "aero rakes" fitted to his Red Bull to measure assorted air flow patterns.

Installation laps complete, the drivers headed for the garages to wait for somebody else to go out and clean off the racing line. King did the honors 13 minutes into the session, and he posted the first times of FP1 with a 1:47.836 and a 1:47.101. Raikkonen then obliterated that with a 1:42.738.

Rosberg then topped the times with a 1:40.223 set using the super softs. Hamilton also used the super softs to clock a 1:39.246 twenty-three minutes into the session. That put Mercedes one/two ahead of Raikkonen, Massa, Bottas and Vettel.

A couple of minutes later Palmer had a quick spin at Turn 18. Then Hamilton improved to a 1:38.943 and then a 1:38.701, and Vettel and Raikkonen improved to third and fourth.

At the 40-minute break, when each driver has to hand a set of tires back to Pirelli, the order was: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Massa and Sainz.

Button was the first to get back on the track. He had the medium Pirellis with the white side walls on his McLaren and the track to himself as he turned a 1:41.663. Others soon joined the action. Then, 54 minutes into the session, Rosberg went to the top with a 1:37.743 on the soft compound Pirellis. Hamilton used the same rubber but had a troubled lap and did not set a quick time. But on his next attempt he recorded a 1:37.428.

With just under 30 minutes to go, the order was now: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Ricciardo, Vettel, Kvyat (who had had a spin) and Sainz.

But in the final third of the session, of course, the drivers were on used tires and doing long runs, so the lap times were not going to get any faster even if the drivers were holding nothing back. The top 10 therefore remained unchanged.