Lewis Hamilton went two-for-two in Friday’s Formula 1 practice session ahead of the United States Grand Prix by topping the afternoon running at the Circuit of The Americas for Mercedes.
Hamilton enters this weekend on the verge of clinching his fourth F1 drivers’ title, with victory at COTA and a finish of sixth or lower for Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel being enough to settle the championship.
Hamilton started the weekend on the right foot by leading a damp FP1 session, but was able to flex his muscle and establish his edge over the field more in second practice in dry conditions.
Hamilton turned in a best lap of 1:34.668 to finish almost four-tenths of a second clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the head of the field, recording a new track record at COTA in the process.
Vettel’s hopes of striking back against Hamilton were dented early in FP2 when he ran off the circuit while on a flying lap, almost beaching his Ferrari car.
The team brought Vettel back into the pits and spent a large chunk of the session completing fixes on the car, limiting the German to just 11 laps in total. He was nevertheless still able to finish third-fastest, half a second back from Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas took fourth in the second Mercedes, leading Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen as the trio struggled to match their teammates further up the order.
Fernando Alonso put in a stellar display for McLaren to finish as the ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams, taking P7 ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa and the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, filling out the top 10.
Carlos Sainz Jr. continued his impressive start to life with Renault, beating new teammate Nico Hulkenberg for the second straight session.
Toro Rosso stand-in Brendon Hartley continued to get more laps under his belt ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, completing 41 in total en route to P17 overall.
Track running continues at COTA on Saturday with FP3 live on the NBC Sports app from 12pm ET, followed by qualifying on NBCSN at 5pm ET.