Lewis Hamilton comfortably fastest in opening practice session at U.S. Grand Prix
U.S. Grand Prix - FP1

Lewis Hamilton comfortably fastest in opening practice session at U.S. Grand Prix

20/10/2018

Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening practice session for the U.S. Grand Prix, setting a time 1.304s clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas in wet conditions.

Hamilton only set six laps, but the fifth of those six was a class above the rest and left him nearly two seconds quicker than his only remaining title rival Sebastian Vettel. The changing conditions throughout the session meant direct comparisons between drivers are of little value, but there is no doubt Hamilton looks at home on the circuit that has delivered him five victories in the last six years.

A Hamilton-led one-two victory for Mercedes on Sunday would be enough to secure the championship for the British driver, but wet conditions are only forecast for qualifying day on Saturday before the weather clears up on race day.

Heavy rain ahead of the session on Friday morning meant the circuit never fully dried out during the 90 minutes of first practice, but track conditions were significantly better towards the end of the session. All the fastest times were set on intermediate tyres, but run plans varied dramatically with the Mercedes drivers completing just 13 laps between them and the Ferrari drivers notching up 38.

Red Bull managed to split the Mercedes and Ferraris by securing third and fourth place, with Max Verstappen just 0.041s off Bottas in second place and 0.479s clear of Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

Outside the top six, Carlos Sainz was seventh fastest ahead of Romain Grosjean in eighth as their respective teams, Renault and Haas, continue to battle over fourth fourth place in the constructors' championship.

Charles Leclerc caused the only stoppage in the session when he spun off at Turn 8 and brought gravel back onto the track on the racing line. He was able to return to the pits and continue in the session, finishing ninth fastest overall ahead of Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson.

Lando Norris was given another session at the wheel of a McLaren ahead of his promotion to a race drive with the British team next year and once again impressed. Driving Stoffel Vandoorne's car, he set a fastest lap just 0.196s off Fernando Alonso in tricky conditions. The lap left him 12th overall ahead of Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez and Sergey Sirotkin, who all completed more laps.

Kevin Magnussen was 16th in the second Haas car ahead of Esteban Ocon for Force India, Nico Hulkenberg for Renault, Lance Stroll for Williams and Sean Gelael, who was driving Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso in first practice.

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