Sainz tops the opening practice in Austin as rookie drivers take centerstage

Sainz tops the opening practice in Austin as rookie drivers take centerstage

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were unable to catch Carlos Sainz in Austin’s first practice session, which included several new drivers.

The Red Bull and Mercedes drivers trailed the Ferrari driver in second and third place, respectively as Lance Stroll of the Aston Martin team and Sergio Perez in the sister Red Bull rounded out the top five.

Five inexperienced drivers experienced their first FP1 session as five driver swaps took place during the session. Antonio Giovinazzi, a three-season veteran who was filling in at Haas, did not exactly meet the team’s expectations after crashing but nonetheless drove Kevin Magnussen’s car on Friday.

However, it was a chance for 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou to take the wheel at McLaren, Sauber rookie and Formula 2 runner-up Théo Pourchaire ran for Alfa Romeo, Ferrari rookie Robert Shwartzman participated for the Scuderia, and American Logan Sargeant, who is rumored to be in line for a race drive at Williams in 2023, had a chance to drive the FW44 in practice one.

The Circuit of The Americas rapidly became a hive of activity after that, but Giovinazzi’s return to the circuit had only been planned for a short period of time. At the fast Turn 6, he lost control and drifted haplessly backward crashing into the barrier.

The red flag was swiftly raised, but the Italian driver was able to navigate his way out of difficulty and resume driving. He was able to return to the pits, but in the process he overheated his clutch at Haas, causing an unwelcome headache and likely forcing Magnussen to switch gearboxes this weekend.

The fact that Fernando Alonso had to wrestle his Alpine through the first sector and became out of shape in the process, as well as the fact that Sainz’s Ferrari shot up a piece of bodywork as he bounced his way into Turn 3, all indicated that the new generation of vehicles appeared more jittery than their predecessors over the bumpy COTA surface in general.

Early results for Aston Martin look promising as their recent rise has placed them to within seven points of Alfa Romeo in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Sebastian Vettel was also in and around the leaders for much of the session.

Stroll’s lead was only temporary, though, as Sainz quickly overtook him by shaving six tenths off his best effort to become the first driver to cross the 1:36 mark and win the session.

Hamilton was third fastest after Verstappen finished second two tenths off the benchmark time. The five substitute drivers were the five slowest throughout the practice, with Ferrari’s Shwartzman left miffed after being stopped on his final soft tyre lap at the newly renamed Turn 20, now known as “The Andretti.”


1Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari1m36.857s
2Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1m37.081s
3Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m37.332s
4Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m37.460s
5Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing1m37.515s
6Fernando AlonsoESPBWT Alpine F1 Team1m37.713s
7George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m37.802s
8Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri1m37.810s
9Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m37.856s
10Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team1m38.041s
11Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1m38.102s
12Zhou GuanyuCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen1m38.276s
13Alex AlbonESPWilliams Racing1m38.422s
14Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri 1m38.898s
15Mick Schumacher GERHaas F1 Team1m38.922s
16Robert ShwartzmanISRScuderia Ferrari1m38.951s
17Alex PalouAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m39.911s
18Theo PourchaireFRAAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen1m40.175s
19Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1m40.325s
20Antonio GiovinazziITAHaas F1 Team1m43.063s

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