Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Watch Qualifying tonight at 10pm for Sunday’s Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 9pm, ahead of Sprint Saturday in Austin world champion Max Verstappen quickest in early running at Austin, but third-placed Lewis Hamilton in upgraded Mercedes also impresses

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 20/10/23 9:57pm

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Oscar Piastri narrowly avoided the barrier in Practice 1 after he lost control of the McLaren at the United States Grand Prix

Oscar Piastri narrowly avoided the barrier in Practice 1 after he lost control of the McLaren at the United States Grand Prix

Max Verstappen set the pace from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the only practice session before Friday night’s qualifying at the United States GP, but Lewis Hamilton also gave Mercedes early encouragement for the weekend in their upgraded car.

At the start of the 2023 season’s fifth Sprint weekend out of six, Verstappen set the practice pace around the sweeping – and thanks to temperatures of over 30 degrees, sultry – Circuit of Americas with a quickest lap of 1:35.912.

Leclerc was 0.156s back for Ferrari with Hamilton a further tenth of a second behind in third, but it would have been better for the latter had the seven-time champion not dropped time in the lap’s final sector by running wide at Turn 12 and then losing time behind a McLaren.

Mercedes ran a new floor on their car for the first time during the session in what they have confirmed is their final “significant” upgrade this season.

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Ted Kravitz takes a closer look at the new Mercedes upgrades and examines if they could improve their performance over the United States Grand Prix weekend

Ted Kravitz takes a closer look at the new Mercedes upgrades and examines if they could improve their performance over the United States Grand Prix weekend

Sergio Perez, who increasingly needs a strong weekend amid speculation about his future, was fourth in the second Red Bull and finished a reasonably respectable 0.3s back on team-mate Verstappen.

Fifth fastest was Kevin Magnussen in a Haas car that ran in heavily revised form thanks to a significant suite of end-of-season upgrades. The Dane wound up just over half a second off Verstappen’s ultimate pace, while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg also ran well in ninth.

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Former racing driver Michael Andretti believes his team, Andretti Autosport, can bring more into Formula 1 as he aims to gain entry into the sport in 2025.

Former racing driver Michael Andretti believes his team, Andretti Autosport, can bring more into Formula 1 as he aims to gain entry into the sport in 2025.

Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, was back on track for AlphaTauri for the first time in two months after recovering from a broken bone in his left hand.

The Australian made a solid return and completed 23 laps in the hour-long session without any apparent problems. He finished 14th fastest, within half a tenth of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

Who has started well – and who hasn’t – in F1’s latest Sprint weekend?

With F1 staging consecutive Sprint events for the first time, drivers and teams are in the groove with the frenzied nature of the format and the fact Friday’s sole practice session is the only one they get to lock in their set-ups for the remainder of the race weekend.

A fast, trouble-free start was therefore imperative and Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all certainly appeared to enjoy that luxury here in the hour of practice running.

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Martin Brundle was trackside to cast his eye over the cars as they head through Turn 1 during first practice at the United States Grand Prix.

Martin Brundle was trackside to cast his eye over the cars as they head through Turn 1 during first practice at the United States Grand Prix.

The same also appeared true of in-form McLaren, even if Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both ultimately finished down the order at the end of the session.

Unlike their main rivals, McLaren opted to hold back their soft tyres and so lost ground on the timesheet when the majority of the field ran the quickest compound in the closing minutes. Norris had however earlier headed the charts on the medium tyre.

Piastri, who won the Sprint two weeks ago in Qatar, though was nearly caught out when he went over the kerb at Turn Nine. Going onto the grass as his car began to lose group, he superbly managed to wrestle it back under control and avoid a costly spin or accident.

But Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll endured another tough session, this time by virtue of a brake problem which brought his running to an end after just five laps. Team-mate Fernando Alonso’s car was also checked over before returning to track, although he was another not to fit soft tyres.

United States GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver
Team
Time

1. Max Verstappen
Red Bull
1:35.912

2. Charles Leclerc
Ferrari
+0.156

3. Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
+0.281

4. Sergio Perez
Red Bull
+0.300

5. Kevin Magnussen
Haas
+0.560

6. George Russell
Mercedes
+0.562

7. Alex Albon
Williams
+0.580

8. Carlos Sainz
Ferrari
+0.621

9. Nico Hulkenberg
Haas
+0.790

10. Pierre Gasly
Alpine
+0.793

11. Logan Sargeant
Williams
+1.075

12. Esteban Ocon
Alpine
+1.154

13. Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri
+1.192

14. Daniel Ricciardo
AlphaTauri
+1.240

15. Lando Norris
McLaren
+1.344

16. Zhou Guanyu
Alfa Romeo
+1.506

17. Valtteri Bottas
Alfa Romeo
+1.605

18. Fernando Alonso
Aston Martin
+1.928

19. Oscar Piastri
McLaren
+2.508

20. Lance Stroll
Aston Martin
+4.028

When to watch the US GP and F1 Academy finale live only on Sky Sports F1

Friday

7.55pm: F1 Academy Practice Two
9pm: US GP Qualifying build-up
10pm: US GP Qualifying (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
11.30pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
(Saturday) 12.30am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Saturday

3.30pm: F1 Academy Race One
6pm: US GP Sprint Shootout build-up
6:30pm: US GP Sprint Shootout
9.15pm: F1 Academy Race Two
10pm: US GP Sprint build-up
11pm: US GP SPRINT (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
(Sunday) 12.30am: Ted’s Sprint Notebook

Sunday

3.30pm: F1 Academy Race Three
6.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: US GP build-up
8pm: THE UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
10pm: Chequered Flag: US GP reaction
11pm: Ted’s Notebook

Watch Formula 1 return to Texas for the United States Grand Prix and another Sprint weekend live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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