United States GP Free Practice 1 Report: Trouble for Verstappen as Mercedes F1 Pair Bottas-Hamilton Dominate

Published 10/22/2021, 1:31 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 22, 2021 General view during practice REUTERS/Brian Snyder


Valtteri Bottas showcased the dominant Mercedes F1 pace to top the timesheets over FP1 at the United States GP. The other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton wasn’t far off either, consistently delivering decent enough lap times to match his teammate.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

But, that wasn’t the case with his title rival. Max Verstappen, despite giving his best, hasn’t been able to match the power of Mercedes, which could well be a concerning factor over the rest of the weekend.

How the FP1 session unfolded

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Fernando Alonso brings the first red flag of the weekend

In almost 2 years, Sergio Perez ended up being the first driver to hit the track who was soon followed by a string of other F1 cars, including Daniel Ricciardo.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 22, 2021 The car of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso is carried off during practice REUTERS/Brian Snyder

However, the session faced early interruption after just 3 minutes as Fernando Alonso parked his Alpine around the exit of turn 12. There were fluids leaking from under the car, and Alonso, who was heading off the track returned to take a peek at it. Consequently, the red flags came out which lasted for around 10 minutes.

F1 action resumes at COTA

10 minutes into the session, the Green flags were out again, as yet again, cars rushed onto the track. Ricciardo was the first driver to clock a lap time at COTA but, his stint at the top of the timesheet lasted for seconds, as the stewards deleted his lap time for exceeding the track limits.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 22, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the pits during practice REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hamilton, as always, hammered his first lap with a 1:37:260 and found himself 0.077s ahead of his rival Verstappen. Bottas provisionally held onto P3 while Perez, too, wasn’t far off in P4. The Mexican was only around 0.3s slower than Hamilton despite running a harder tire compound.

20 minutes into the session, Charles Leclerc endured a dramatic spin around turn 6 but managed to keep his car away from the barriers. However, having flat-spotted the tires, the Monegasque had to return to the garage.

Soft tire compound not the way to go for F1 drivers?

Hamilton held onto P1 with a 1:36:812, which he managed to set on soft tires. However, there was Perez who managed to go even faster with a 1:36:798 on a set of hard tires. The blazing hot weather is certainly taking a toll on the tires.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the pits during practice REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hence, there is a significant chance that we would get to see drivers opting for either medium or hard tires during Q2 in a bid to start the race on the same tires. That isn’t the only concern amidst the high temperatures, as Hamilton complained of over-heating around the rear of his Mercedes.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Qualifying simulation F1 run

Bottas delivered a blinding lap to go P1 with a 1:34:874, just over 0.04s ahead of Hamilton. But, it was a nightmare for Verstappen, who ended up almost 1.0s slower than the Mercedes duo. Meanwhile, Ferrari enjoyed commendable flying laps, as both Leclerc and Sainz managed to claim P4 and P5.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Overall, a rather straightforward FP1 session comes to an end, and the limelight will soon fall on FP2 in a couple of hours’ time. So, can Verstappen bounce back to finish ahead of the Mercedes F1 duo later this afternoon?

Watch Story: Road cars inspired from F1 technology

Enjoyed reading this article? Download our exclusive app to get 24x7 coverage, latest memes and social media banter. Click here to download.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Rohit Kumar

1451 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT