The 2015 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas got under-way today, with Nico Rosberg topping the time-sheets in the one and only session; with the second session cancelled after heavy rain and thunderstorms hit the track as a result of Hurricane Patricia.
Nico Rosberg headed the time-sheets for the first practice session at Circuit of the Americas after heavy rain prior to the session left the track still soaking. Not a single dry tyre was used out on track, with a majority of running completed on the Intermediate tyre compound.
Red Bull’s pair of drivers were 2nd and 3rd, with Kvyat trailing Rosberg by 1.2 seconds. Ricciardo was separated from his team-mate by 4 tenths. Carlos Sainz put his Toro Rosso in 4th; with the Red Bull sponsored cars once again showing their good pace in wet conditions. This could be vital this weekend, with much of the event set to be disrupted by heavy rainfall as a result of Hurricane Patricia that is heading toward Mexico. There is a very real chance that Qualifying tomorrow could be postponed until Sunday morning; like we have seen in recent years in Japan.
Lewis Hamilton was 5th fastest ahead of his nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel. Lewis could claim this year’s drivers’ championship this weekend if he outscores Sebastian by more than 10 points and finishes ahead of Nico Rosberg; which is a strong possiblity after Vettel and his team-mate Raikkonen were handed 10 place grid penalties for this weekend after using more than the allocated number of engines. Max Verstappen was just behind the title contenders in 7th.
8th and 9th were former team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso; with Kimi’s start to practice being delayed after a suspected brake issue. Completing the top 10 was Felipe Massa’s Williams; which was 3 seconds off of Rosberg in 1st.
Raffaele Marciello was driving for Sauber in the first practice session in place of Felipe Nasr. He ended the session in 16th after completing the second highest amount of laps; 19 compared to Jenson Button’s tally of 20. Lotus planned to put their third driver Jolyon Palmer in the car, but decided that they would run him in practice 2 should the weather conditions improve.
The start of practice 2 was delayed after lightning began to strike around the circuit; which led to marshals being moved from their posts. The track-side screens also began to warn fans to seek shelter indoors or in cars and to get out of the open. The rain continued to intensify, with even the race control SUV forced to lap the circuit at a snail’s pace on it’s reconnaissance laps.
In the end, after almost an hour of holding out to see if the session could be run, the stewards elected to cancel practice 2; with the lack of a medical helicopter seemingly the final blow. With conditions not likely to improve for qualifying or the race, there is a very real possibility that the event could see move schedules changes or cancellations.
Austin practice 1 time-sheets: