Sebastian Vettel has returned to the top of the timesheets in Austin after he and teammate Mark Webber forged a Red Bull one-two during the second free practice session for the United States Grand Prix on Friday.
The German driver was pushed by his teammate for the fastest time, but the team appears to be in a class of its own in Austin as Vettel chases an unprecedented eighth consecutive win in a single season.
FP2 began without any problems unlike the session earlier today, and the entire field came out early in order to make up for the time lost this morning due to fog and a problem with the medical helicopter. Lotus set the early pace as Romain Grosjean and stand-in Heikki Kovalainen moved up to P1 and P2, but Sebastian Vettel soon resumed normal service after finishing down in eighteenth place this morning to go fastest by seven-tenths of a second. Mark Webber soon reduced the gap and moved up into second place ahead of the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, suggesting that the pecking order had not changed a great deal since Abu Dhabi.
With the first runs taking place on the hard tire, the drivers soon switched to the medium compound to gauge their one lap pace for qualifying. Nico Rosberg was the first driver to overhaul Vettel at the top, only for Webber to go faster still ahead of Vettel’s second run. The four-time world champion quickly re-established his dominance though to go fastest once again. Heikki Kovalainen was also impressive, going fifth-fastest, almost two-tenths ahead of Grosjean in the sister Lotus. Esteban Gutierrez continued his good form from FP1 to lie sixth-fastest in front of a large contingency of Mexican fans, whilst Sergio Perez finished down in thirteenth place.
The pecking order did not change for the final half an hour of the session as the teams began to focus on their long runs. However, Max Chilton’s session came to a premature end after spinning out at the final corner, bringing out the yellow flags and forcing a tractor to come and lift away his Marussia. Nico Hulkenberg complained over the radio that the marshals were taking too long to recover the car, but with only a couple of minutes remaining, very running time was lost.
At the front though, Red Bull continued to dominate proceedings with both Vettel and Webber putting in strong displays. With the United States Grand Prix being the only race on the current calendar that Red Bull has not won, the team will be pushing to finish the season in style by righting that wrong this weekend.
Danilo Petrucci will make his comeback from injury at this weekend’s MotoGP race in Le Mans after missing the first four races of the season.
Petrucci underwent surgery on his right hand due to a recurring problem that meant he could not race in Qatar, Argentina, Austin or Spain for the Pramac team.
The Italian’s place was taken by Michele Pirro for the last three races, but Petrucci is now fit again and will race at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.
“I trained a lot in the last few weeks. This time I did things more calmly, waiting for my body to give me permission to train,” Petrucci said.
“I’m happy to be back and I feel good. Of course we must see the reaction to the first impact with the track as the intense workout made at home certainly cannot be compared to a race weekend. But I’m very confident.
“I want to thank all the people who helped me, my trainer Marco Baglioni, Tommaso, Filippo, and my brother Francesco who have trained with me, pushing me every day.
“I also want to thank the Medical Team of Terni who provided me with all the tools for physiotherapy and Dr. Tarallo, from the team of prof. Catani, who operated me.
“Then a big thank to all my fans for their support. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans and I hope I can soon give to all of them so much satisfaction.”
The French Grand Prix takes place on Sunday May 8.
Kevin Magnussen has won Formula 1’s official Driver of the Day poll for the Russian Grand Prix.
Magnussen started 17th in Sochi after a difficult qualifying session, but made the most of the trouble at the first corner for many of the cars ahead to work his way into the top 10.
The Dane’s pace was impressive during the second half of the race to ensure he finished the race seventh, marking Renault’s first points as an F1 constructor since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The result was also Magnussen’s first top 10 finish in F1 since the penultimate race of the 2014 season when he raced for McLaren.
On Monday, the official F1 Twitter account confirmed that Magnussen had won the vote through its website.
The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a busy race for the FIA stewards as a number of incidents resulted in three drivers receiving penalty points on their super licences.
Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Carlos Sainz Jr. were all sanctioned by the stewards for actions during the race.
Kvyat’s antics on the first lap defined a number of drivers’ races as he hit Sebastian Vettel twice in a matter of seconds, the second hit punting the Ferrari racer into the wall and out of contention.
Kvyat said after the race that it was easy to attack him, but the rest of the paddock was less than impressed, leaving many expecting an apology from the Russian.
After being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, Kvyat was also given three points on his FIA super licence, taking his tally up to five for the 12-month period.
Gutierrez was also penalized for an incident on the first lap after he took out Nico Hulkenberg and sparked a multi-car melee at Turn 2. He too received a time penalty during the race, but was handed two penalty points afterwards by the stewards.
Finally, Sainz was found to have forced Jolyon Palmer off track between Turns 2 and 3 during the race. He had 10 seconds added to his race time and also received two penalty points.
Nico Rosberg saw his Formula 1 championship lead swell to 43 points on Sunday after winning the Russian Grand Prix, marking his seventh straight victory.
The German has not lost since the Mexican Grand Prix back in November, and will head to the start of the European season in Spain later this month full of confidence.
It proved to be a race full of intriguing storylines as Lewis Hamilton fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second, Romain Grosjean took Haas back into the points and everyone got angry with Daniil Kvyat for causing mayhem at Turn 2.
Following the race on Sunday, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news, interviews and insight in Paddock Pass.