MERCEDES REIGNS – AGAIN
AUSTIN, TX (Nov. 1, 2014) – For the second day in a row, Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished one-two in the third and final free practice session (FP3) prior to Sunday’s 2014 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. Not only was their performance a déjà vu of Friday’s practice session (FP2), they also turned in the two quickest laps of the weekend – both under 1:38 – at 1:37.107 and 1:37.990.
The two Mercedes-powered cars piloted by Williams Team drivers Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas mounted the strongest challenge to the dominant Mercedes duo. On his final lap of the session Massa turned in a respectable time of 1:38.214, moving up to third, just 1.107 seconds behind Hamilton. Bottas was not far behind, at 1:38.437.
Next in line, placing fifth and sixth respectively, were Ferrai’s Fernando Alonzo and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.They posted times of 1:38.727 and 1:38.927.Speaking of Ricciardo, he posted the session’s quickest time early on, putting his name atop the timing tower for the first 50 minutesof the one-hour practice session.But with 10 minutes left, lap times began to falling, one after the other.
Finishing seventh, with his best practice of the weekend was Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. He clocked in with a time of 1:38.960. Next was Sauber’s Adrian Sutil at 1:39, followed by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in ninth and McLaren’s Jenson Button in 10th.
Sebastian Vettel, last year’s USGP winner and the reigning Formula One driver’s championship was forced to swap out engines for the sixth time this season, which violates FIA regulations. As a result he was penalized and will starting the race from pit lane.So Vettel took it easy on his tires during the weekend’s three practice session finishing last each time, anywhere from three to seven seconds behind the session leaders.
Clear skies and cool temperatures were the order of the morning.And teams took advantage of the cool readings – in the 46 to 50° F. range – pushing their cars a bit harder than they had during Friday’s warmer practice sessions, resulting in all but three cars beating the previous goal – a clocking of at least 1:40. However, the stress may have had a slightly adverse effect on some of the transmissions, as six drivers elected to swap out gearboxes for Sunday’s race, including both McLaren drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, as well as Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyaat, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado.