Kvyat: Safety changes in F1 necessary, not disarming the sport

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Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat has hit back at comments made by former driver manager Willi Weber saying that F1 drivers are no longer as courageous and risky as they used to be, and has given his support to the changes made to circuits to improve safety standards.

Speaking to Bild earlier this week, Weber said that the sport had lost its edge and no longer had drivers with character. “Who wants to see the wimps of today crying on the radio?” he pondered. “There are no more characters like Ayrton Senna, Jacques Villenueve and Michael Schumacher were.

“They would not complain on the radio but give their answer on the track.”

For some time, many critics have claimed that the sport is becoming too easy for drivers, but Kvyat explained to Omnicorse that he felt this sold the current grid very short.

“Courage is always an important part of motorsport,” the Russian said. “I don’t like it when they say that nowadays the drivers don’t take risks and that we, in comparison with the 80s, are not real men. All these things are bullsh*t.”

Earlier this week, pictures of a newly-asphalted run-off area at Parabolica at Monza were released, causing a backlash as one of the sport’s classic corners became a little less difficult. For Kvyat though, these changes are sensible to improve safety standards.

“When you go to 340 km/h and miss the brakes you end up in the wall, even if there is 100m of asphalt,” he said. “The risk in F1 cannot be erased.

“And if they had kept the run-off areas as gravel we could see drivers getting injured every weekend. So it is right that we do everything we can to improve the safety of the tracks and cars.”

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.