Alonso: My strategy flattered Ferrari’s pace

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Fernando Alonso believe that he was only able to challenge for a place on the podium due to strategy in the German Grand Prix this afternoon, stating that the Ferrari car is not quick enough to do so under normal circumstances.

The two-time world champion started on the medium compound tire, effectively giving him the reverse strategy to that of Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean who finished 1st and 3rd respectively. Alonso did close on Grosjean on the final lap, but he could not find a way past and he is still pleased to have finished as high as 4th.

“It was very good the strategy,” Alonso said after the race. “I think with this strategy we have had the possibility to fight for the podium. We were not quick enough today, we didn’t have the pace, and even then we fight for the podium and we were very close to the leading group.

“It’s hard for me to imagine if we start 5th and we do soft-hard-hard-hard as the main competitors, I don’t think that I finish four seconds behind them or I fight with them, because we are slower than them. We were fighting with them thanks to the strategy.”

Alonso finished just 7.7 seconds behind race winner Sebastian Vettel despite starting the race down in P9. However, the gap between him and Vettel has grown to 34 points as we come towards the halfway point in the season.

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.