Lewis Hamilton edged Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg in first practice ahead of the United States Grand Prix as Mercedes started the weekend well clear of its rivals.
Hamilton finished 0.315s clear of Rosberg at Circuit of The Americas, posting a lap of 1m37.428s, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third quickest, but a further 1.6s adrift, albeit on the medium compound.
The leading times from Hamilton and Rosberg were set on Pirelli’s soft compound tires, beating their early times on the super-soft as the track improved during the first 90 minutes of F1 running.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen set the early pace on soft tyres with a 1m42.738s before being deposed by Rosberg by 2.1s, with the championship leader the first to try the super-softs at the time. Rosberg remained top for only a handful of minutes as Hamilton became the first to dip below the 1m40s mark with his first run on super-softs.
While Hamilton continued to lower the benchmark, just before the hour mark Rosberg then reclaimed top spot with a 1m37.743s on softs, but Hamilton produced a lap soon after that remained unbeaten.
Raikkonen finished fourth quickest, improving to a 1m39.407s ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who recently confirmed he is Renault bound in 2017.
Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo were sixth and seventh best, the latter finishing 2.535s adrift on used mediums, with Sebastian Vettel down in seventh on softs.
At one stage Vettel ran wide at the penultimate corner, his Ferrari rattling over the rumble strips resulting in a piece of bodywork shaking loose, colliding with his right wing mirror in the process and dislodging it. For the lap that followed Vettel drove with one hand as he used his left to stop the wing mirror from falling off.
Toro Rosso duo Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10, both 2.7s down and separated by just nine thousandths of a second on the super-soft compound, with the latter complaining of understeer.
On home soil for their team, Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez finished 14th and 15th, 3.5s off the pace. Their session ended in unusual fashion as both had to be wheeled back into the garage from the end of the pitlane where they had come to a stop.
There was an outing for two reserve drivers, with Force India’s Alfonso Celis Jr. – in for Sergio Perez – four seconds down in 17th.
Manor’s Jordan King, in his first practice outing and replacing Pascal Wehrlein, was 20th, 4.584s adrift.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m39.379ss||1.951s||28|
|5||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m39.712ss||2.284s||27|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m39.963ss||2.535s||26|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m40.131ss||2.703s||16|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m40.140ss||2.712s||26|
|17||Alfonso Celis||Force India/Mercedes||1m41.422ss||3.994s||27|