FIRST F1 PRACTICE SESSION ENDS WITH 'USUAL SUSPECTS' POSTING QUICKEST TIMES
The first Formula One practice session at Circuit of the Americas on Friday went pretty much as expected, with the No. 44 and No. 6 Petronas Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg setting the top times – but not by a wide margin. Hamilton posted a fastest time of 1:39.941 around the 3.4-mile Circuit of The Americas, with Rosberg just 0.292 seconds behind at 1:40.233.
McLaren’s Jenson Button finished third with a time of 1:40.319, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Button’s teammate Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top five.
Fernando Alonso was sixth in his No. 14 Ferrari, with a time of 1:41.065, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the No. 1 Red Bull car, which posted a best time of 1:41.463. The reigning world champion will use an entirely new power unit this weekend – his sixth of the season – resulting in a mandatory penalty that will see him starting Sunday’s race from the pit lane regardless of what times he sets in qualifying.
Behind him was a new face at Circuit of The America’s, reserve driver Felipe Nasr of Brazil, who did a good job for Williams, going eighth-fastest with a time of 1:41.545. Another circuit newcomer, 17-year-old rookie Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, was 10th fastest. Verstappen drove for this session in a car normally driven by Jean-Eric Vergne. Verstappen will become Vergne’s teammate for 2015, when Kvyat moves up the ranks at Red Bull to become Ricciardo’s teammate in 2015.
Verstappen entered the Formula One history books as the youngest driver to participate in a grand prix weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 3. He completed 22 laps before engine failure ended his practice stint early, yet he manage to finish 12th fastest in the session. He was only half a second slower than Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen is the son of Jos, former teammate of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, and a veteran of 107 grands prix.