The United States Grand Prix weekend in Austin, Texas, kicked off in rather pedestrian style as heavy rain limited running throughout the first practice session on Friday morning, allowing Nico Rosberg to top the timesheets.
As predicted earlier this week, showers struck the Circuit of The Americas overnight and in the morning that left the track damp at the start of FP1.
Drivers headed out on the extreme wet tire early on, with Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Raffaele Marciello setting the pace before the track dried out and allowed for running on the intermediate compound.
None of the teams opted to undertake excessive running, instead preferring to complete the required car checks and installations before some gentle wet laps in the spray.
Rosberg set the pace for Mercedes, posting a fastest lap of 1:53.989 to finish 1.2 seconds clear of the field in P1, drawing first blood at COTA despite completing just a handful of laps.
Red Bull drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo ran well in the damp conditions to finish second and third respectively ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. World champion-in-waiting Lewis Hamilton finished fifth overall, leading home title rival Sebastian Vettel in sixth.
McLaren used the session to get to grips with its power unit upgrades as Fernando Alonso ended FP1 in ninth place, but by finishing third in the speed trap at the end of the back straight, signs of improvement were there to see. Teammate Jenson Button – running with the Sochi-spec power unit – finished 13th.
A brake problem limited Kimi Raikkonen’s running during the session, leaving him eighth with just six laps to his name. Pastor Maldonado failed to post a time due to a gearbox issue that forced Lotus into a rebuild of his car throughout FP1.
Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3pm ET on Friday.