Hamilton quickest in first practice for United States GP

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Lewis Hamilton has made the best possible start to his United States Grand Prix weekend by finishing as the quickest driver in the first free practice session on Friday.

This morning’s running at the Circuit of The Americas saw a number of drivers show off their new helmets designs for the first time, with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez all making a change for this weekend’s race.

Due to light rain overnight, some of the early running in FP1 took place on the intermediate tire, but the track soon dried and allowed the drivers to get their first taste of COTA with the new V6 turbo cars in dry conditions.

With a fastest lap of 1:39.941, Hamilton managed to edge out teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets once again. However, with just two-tenths of a second separating the pair, we look set for another close fight at the front of the field on Sunday. The result marked Mercedes’ tenth one-two finish in FP1 in 2014.

Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen continued McLaren’s late season resurgence to finish third and fifth in FP1. Although these are very early indications at COTA, the signs are encouraging for the British team. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat split the pair in fourth place.

Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen both put in impressive displays during their practice run-outs in Austin, deputizing for Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne respectively. Nasr finished the session in eighth place, with Verstappen a very respectable P10.

Daniel Ricciardo endured a difficult first session in Austin, completing just five laps and finishing 17th in the final standings. Red Bull is yet to confirm what the issue on his Red Bull RB10 car that limited his running.

In a quiet session with little more of note, the biggest absence was perhaps that of Caterham and Marussia. With neither team racing in Austin this weekend, the grid has been reduced to just 18 cars, marking a ten-year low for Formula 1.

At the front though, the Hamilton express continues to power ahead. Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3p ET today to see if he can continue his good form at COTA.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX