Hamilton happy to prove Mercedes critics wrong

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Lewis Hamilton said it was “nice to prove people wrong” after finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes in Australia.

Hamilton’s move to Mercedes drew mixed responses when it was announced in September last year.

Hamilton said: “It has been everyone, particularly all the ex-drivers, a lot of them commenting and saying that it was the worst decision ever, saying: ‘he’s going to finish nowhere, they are going to be nowhere’.

“And then they contradicted themselves, going the other way, they don’t know what they are talking about.”

Among the elder statesmen of British motor racing to question Hamilton’s decision was Stirling Moss, who raced for the team in 1955.

“Personally I don’t think it was too clever to leave McLaren but we’ll see,” said Moss in October.

“When I had the chance back then I grabbed it because I thought they were the best team at the time. Nowadays I think other teams are better.”

In January three-time world champion Jackie Stewart said Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes was “a risk”.

“McLaren are in the business of Formula One. Major carmakers come and go. There’s a risk if the Silver Arrows are not successful, it’s just a five-minute board decision [to cancel the program].”

Hamilton lined up third on the grid for his Mercedes debut, behind the Red Bulls. His former team McLaren’s cars lined up tenth and fifteenth.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.