Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas pipped Lewis Hamilton to top the opening practice session for the United States Grand Prix. Hamilton's championship rival Max Verstappen finished third, but the Dutchman was almost a second off the Mercedes' benchmark.
While the fight between Mercedes and Red Bull were pretty much even in the first half of the season with the pendulum constantly swinging, the reigning world champion team has regained its dominant form in recent weeks. The turning point was the Italian Grand Prix where Mercedes clearly had the upper hand with the recent races in Russia and Turkey having confirmed this trend.
The picture looks similar in Austin which hosts the United Stated Grand Prix following the coronavirus-forced cancellation of the American race as the first practice saw the Mercedes duo top the timing sheets. Valtteri Bottas, who will serve a five-place grid penalty for taking his sixth internal combustion engine of the season, set the benchmark with a time of 1m34.874s. His team mate Lewis Hamilton ended up second with only 0.045s separating the duo.
Red Bull’s Verstappen racked up a total of 16 laps in Free Practice 1, two less than his championship rival. The Dutchman used two sets of Pirelli’s red-walled soft tyres to set the third best time with the gap to the Mercedes’ benchmark measured at almost a full second. His team mate Sergio Perez started the session on the White Pirelli Hard compound, and finished seventh fastest.
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10 of them with @Charles_Leclerc supporting him all the way since the start of his career 🙌
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Ferrari had another promising opening session with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz ending up fourth and fifth fastest. However, it wasn’t a clean session for the Monegasque, who turned 24 years old last weekend, as he spun across the gravel on his first set.
Alfa Romeo’s driver pairing delivered an eye-catching result with both of them finishing in the Top 10. Antonio Giovinazzi finished ninth fastest beating his team mate Kimi Räikkönen only by 0.002s.
Coming into the weekend, it has been confirmed that George Russell would take his fourth ICE, fourth MGU-H, fourth turbocharger and fourth exhaust – meaning he will start the race from the back of the grid. The Williams racer had a fairly straightforward session which saw him end up in P11 with his team mate Nicholas Latifi taking 17th.
While McLaren was strong in the opening part of the session, their drivers slip down the order when everyone put on the second set of fresh Pirelli tyres. Lando Norris ended up 8th fastest while his team mate Daniel Ricciardo was 16th, ahead of Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, with last-place Nikita Mazepin failing to set a representative lap time after a spin into the gravel.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:35.806||+0.932s||16|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:36.611||+1.737s||18|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:36.798||+1.924s||20|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.855||+1.981s||11|
|9||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:36.874||+2.000s||18|
|10||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:36.876||+2.002s||18|
|11||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:36.966||+2.092s||19|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:36.970||+2.096s||22|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:36.972||+2.098s||20|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:36.982||+2.108s||20|
|15||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:37.068||+2.194s||12|
|16||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:37.458||+2.584s||18|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:37.463||+2.589s||19|
|18||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:37.954||+3.080s||22|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:38.866||+3.992s||17|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:42.239||+7.365s||19|