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Hamilton Dominates Friday Practice for 2017 US Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton had a rather dominant Friday during both free practice sessions for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton, who has one hand on the drivers championship trophy coming into this weekend, looked comfortable in his car as soon as he took to the track comfortably setting the fastest times for both sessions.

Free Practice 1

The session got off to a damp and overcast start after drizzle before the start of the session meant that the session started with drivers heading out on the intermediate tyres.

Hamilton set the pace early on in the session on the intermediate tyres but was then beaten by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. As the track dried out, it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who ventured out on the super soft tyre and immediately set the fastest lap at the time. Few runs later and Hamilton was once again the fastest of the session with a best time of 1:36.335.

Vettel finished 2nd fastest more that half a second off the pace with a best time of 1:36.928. Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes finished 3rd fastest with a best time of 1:36.979.

Max Verstappen finished 4th for Red Bull while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo could only manage 16th after the team decided to make a lengthy setup change to his car which meant he had to sit out quite a bit of the session.

Stoffel Vandoorne finished 5th for McLaren with Felipe Massa for Williams in 6th. Kimi Raikkonen was 7th ahead of the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in 8th and 9th respectively.

On his first outing with Renault, Carlos Sainz finished an impressive 10th.

Although returning to F1 after a short break, Daniil Kvyat had to wait just a bit longer to get back in the car as Sean Geleal was given a FP1 outing. Sticking with Toro Rosso, Brandon Hartley, in his F1 debut finished his first session in 14th with a best time of 1:39.267

Free Practice 2

Free Practice 2 got underway with improved track conditions where once again, Lewis Hamilton set the pace on his ultra soft run with a 1:34.668.

While Hamilton enjoyed the comfort of being the fastest is was a different story at Ferrari. While Kimi Raikkonen was able to enjoy some constant running, Sebastian Vettel ran into some trouble on his car and spent most of his time in the garage. Vettel was delayed in getting going in the session after Ferrari mechanics were working on his car. He emerged from the pits and got going. After a spin at Turn 19, he was back in the pits for a lengthy period.

After emerging from the pits, he was back in his garage a lap later after reporting something wrong with his front axle. Vettel was able to get some running and put in a 3rd fastest lap of the session but it was still considerably off Hamilton’s time.

Red Bull showed some good pace with Max Verstappen who finished the session 2nd fastest some 0.397s off Hamilton’s benchmark. Bottas was 4th fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in 5th and fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari in 6th.

Fernando Alonso had a quiet but productive session and was rewarded with the 7th fastest time ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa in 8th and the two Force India’s in 9th and 10th. Sergio Perez finishing ahead of his team mate this time.

The tail wind at T19 which caught Vettel out caught out a few other drivers as well.

Notable performances from Carlos Sainz in the Renault finishing ahead of team mate Hulkenberg while Daniil Kvyat finished 13th, laying down the challenge for Hartley who ended his session 17th fastest.

Although just managing to complete 11 laps, Vettel seemed rather relaxed after the session. The long run pace of the Ferrari should be encouraging for him as it looks that Ferrari has the better race pace over Mercedes and Red Bull.

It looks like it may be another smooth weekend for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton while Vettel and Ferrari will have an uphill battle from here.

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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