Rossi proud after first US GP, matching Manor’s best 2015 result

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Alexander Rossi felt proud to have completed his first United States Grand Prix and match Manor’s best result of the 2015 Formula 1 season in Austin on Sunday.

Rossi became the first American driver since Scott Speed in 2007 to line up on the grid for his home grand prix on Sunday, and benefitted from a race of attrition to rise through the order.

As more and more cars dropped out towards the end, Rossi looked capable of recording just the second top-ten finish in Manor’s F1 history, rising as high as 11th at one point.

However, a lack of pace late on and relatively clean finish to the race meant that he had to settle for P12 overall, albeit finishing on the lead lap.

Speaking to NBCSN following his first US GP, Rossi made no secret of his pride and delight after a memorable race at the Circuit of The Americas.

“When you see P10 and P11 on pit board, getting towards the end of the race, you want it really bad,” Rossi said.

“But nonetheless a really good result for the team. Shame for Will [Stevens, who retired early]. It’s a very positive end to a great weekend.

“I was fighting with Felipe Nasr for a few laps. It was nice to race a car! I thought we could maybe pull something off. In the end, we were just missing the ultimate pace.

“It’s been an amazing week. So proud to be here. In the end, a great show for the fans on a Sunday. Difficult because of the weather, but positive reception all around, [helps] grow the profile in the States.”

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.