Max third fastest after first day in Austin: 'A difficult day'

Published on 19 October 2018 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen finished the first day in the run up to the Grand Prix of the United States of America third fastest. On a wet Circuit of the America’s, Lewis Hamilton was, just like in the first practice session, the quickest in his Mercedes, followed by Pierre Gasly, who quite skillfully put his Toro Rosso in second.

“The car can be better”, says Max after the session. “It is difficult to say, you don’t know how well the tyres of the others are. I was not happy how mine looked after the first practice. It was a difficult day.” The Dutchman is not inclined to say anything about the race yet: “We’ll just find out tomorrow where we are going to start. Form there onwards it will we a gamble because we haven’t practiced in the dry.”

Prior to the second practice, Sebastian Vettel seems to be facing a grid penalty. The Ferrari running German, appears to have not slowed enough during a red flag situation triggered by Charles Leclerc. Such a violation is normally punished with a three-place grid penalty drop.

Shortly before the start of the second session, it’s still raining and the track is soaking wet. The safety car, driven by Bernd Mayländer does an inspection lap to see how well the track is drivable. When the lights turn green at 14.00 hrs local time, nobody is keen to get out on track. Even Max is just standing next to his RB14.

Until a little over the halfway mark of the session, we don’t see any driver on track. That all changes when Brendon Hartley hits the track. The New-Zealander didn’t run in the first practice, same thing applies for Stoffel Vandoorne, who ventures out moments later. Even Kimi Raikkonen takes a shot. Hartley is the first to get a time on the clock. Vandoorne returns home having done not much really, but Raikkonen takes over the top spot from Hartley moments later.

After a short while, we see both Williams drivers appear out on track. Both Sauber drivers follow suit. At Aston Martin Red Bull Racing only Max will see some action this practice, according to team principal Christian Horner. Daniel Ricciardo suffered a puncture in the first free practice. The teams don’t have enough wet tyres at hand and need to use them sparingly in the event of a wet qualifying or race. During qualifying and the race, it is expected to be dry but the teams are not taking any risks.

With less than twenty minutes to go, Pierre Gasly puts his Toro Rosso in P1 and demotes Raikkonen to second. While Gasly can better his time once more, Sergey Sirotkin is struggling with the intermediates strapped on to his Williams. This makes him slower than when he was running on the full wets.

With still ten minutes to go, Hartley, Sirotkin, Vandoorne, Vettel and Nico Hülkenberg are all out on track and on the inters. The rest of the drivers are inside. Moments later Max follows, with in his wake the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. Hülkenberg briefly takes over the number one spot from Gasly, but the Frenchman counters and re-takes P1. Max manages to come in second fastest until Hamilton snatches P1 with a 1,4 second lead on the rest of the field.

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Results second free practice United-states:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:48.716 3
2Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:49.728+1.012s10
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:49.798+1.082s5
4Fernando AlonsoALOMcLaren Renault1:51.728+3.012s3
5Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:52.208+3.492s6
6Brendon HartleyHARScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:52.505+3.789s19
7Marcus EricssonERISauber Ferrari1:53.070+4.354s9
8Stoffel VandoorneVANMcLaren Renault1:53.354+4.638s10
9Kimi RäikkönenRAIFerrari1:53.443+4.727s7
10Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:53.912+5.196s8
11Charles LeclercLECSauber Ferrari1:54.101+5.385s9
12Lance StrollSTRWilliams Mercedes1:54.637+5.921s5
13Sergio PerezPERForce India Mercedes1:54.963+6.247s6
14Esteban OconOCOForce India Mercedes1:55.348+6.632s6
15Sergey SirotkinSIRWilliams Mercedes1:55.446+6.730s8
16Carlos SainzSAIRenault---2