Verstappen dominates opening practice of United States Grand Prix

Verstappen dominates opening practice of United States Grand Prix

Max Verstappen outperformed Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton to top in the only practice session for the United States Grand Prix.

The only practice session for the United States Grand Prix was held on Friday and the newly crowned F1 world champion Max Verstappen faced no challenge, finishing 0.156 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Lewis Hamilton finished an encouraging third thanks to Mercedes’ upgraded W14, 0.281 seconds behind Verstappen, with Sergio Perez finishing fourth.

Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen’s fastest lap in the significantly updated Haas VF-23, gave the team some reason to be optimistic as they hope for better performance at their home race. The Dane finished fifth ahead of George Russell’s sister Mercedes, which rounded out the top six.

Clear blue skies allowed the sun to heat the track to over 40 degrees by the time the session started, making for the ideal driving conditions for the one hour of practice drivers were given for the entire weekend.

Ricciardo rebounded to the AlphaTauri cockpit for his first stint in the AT04 in nearly two months after missing the previous five races due to a hand injury sustained at Zandvoort.

For the opening laps, teams chose a combination of medium and hard compound tyres as they mastered how to navigate the Austin circuit’s green and uneven track.

Verstappen, who was recently crowned world champion in Qatar, set the initial time benchmark with a lap of 1’39.736 on hard tyres, but the record was soon reduced with more than two seconds with a 1’37.687.

Lewis Hamilton acknowledged making an error on his initial push lap, but it was nevertheless enough to enable him to get close to the Red Bull driver and land in second place. Verstappen quickly moved up to a 1’37.498 before Hamilton, who was also running on hard tyres, pulled to within 0.044s of the Red Bull.

With little time spent setting up cars, it was simply obvious that the circuit would be quite busy. Carlos Sainz Jr. had to steer clear of Lando Norris at turn six as the two appeared to turn into the apex while Sainz sought to pass the McLaren on a push lap, indicating how traffic was still a challenge.

The left-front brakes of both Fernando Alonso’s and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martins appeared to be having similar issues. While the rest of the field kept racking up the mileage, both drivers were pulling into the garage for significant fixes on their cars.

Alonso was eventually allowed to return to the track, while Stroll was left in the garage with just under 30 minutes left.

Verstappen lost a tenth of a second to Hamilton as the Mercedes driver ascended to the top of the time sheets with a 1’37.394 just before the remaining drivers exited into the pit lane to switch tyres and car setups.

Once the pack had finally reemerged, Oscar Piastri had to fight to keep his McLaren pointed in the right direction in the grass after running wide and off the track at the exit of turn nine.

Meanwhile Piastri’s teammate, Lando Norris, returned to the track on the same set of medium tyres he had previously used, and clocked a new session an unprecedented lap time of 1’37.256, shattering Hamilton’s previous mark by 0.138 seconds.

Teams started fitting the soft compound to their cars in the last 15 minutes. Alexander Albon used the fastest rubber to jump right to the top of the charts. However, Verstappen recaptured the record for fastest time with a 1’35.912, which was.012 seconds faster than the Williams.

Verstappen maintained his lead over Leclerc, Hamilton, and Perez up until the checkered flag. Leclerc’s performance on the soft tyres, placed his Ferrari in second place, a tenth and a half of a second behind the world champion.

Hamilton moved up to third place, just ahead of Sergio Perez. Kevin Magnussen’s upgraded Haas took fifth place ahead of George Russell in the second Mercedes. Sainz was in eighth place, ahead of Albon, as Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10.

Sargeant led the second half of the field, while both AlphaTauri’s remaoned close together with Tsunoda just edging Ricciardo for P13.

Stroll never got back onto the track following his early braking issues, and the McLarens of Norris and Piastri finished the session in 15th and 19th, respectively.

2023 United States Grand Prix first practice results

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’35.91222
216Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’36.0680.15624
344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’36.1930.28122
411Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’36.2120.30023
520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’36.4720.56021
663George RussellMercedesW141’36.4740.56224
723Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’36.4920.58020
855Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’36.5330.62123
927Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’36.7020.79021
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’36.7050.79321
112Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’36.9871.07525
1231Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’37.0661.15421
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’37.1041.19225
143Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’37.1521.24024
154Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’37.2561.34421
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’37.4181.50624
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’37.5171.60524
1814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’37.8401.92819
1981Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’38.4202.50822
2018Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’39.9404.0285

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