AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest lap in Friday’s rain-soaked first practice for the U.S. Grand Prix as he chases a fifth career championship this weekend.
Hamilton’s quickest lap at the Circuit of the Americas was 1 minute, 47.502 seconds. Teammate Valtteri Bottas was 1.3 seconds behind.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who must win Sunday or finish within seven points of Hamilton to extend the championship to next week in Mexico City, was fifth in the morning session.
Wet weather is likely to impact the rest of practice and qualifying ahead of Sunday’s race with rain expected through Saturday. The forecast calls for a dry race Sunday.
The slippery conditions caused plenty of early-session spinouts. Vettel ran through the circuit’s hairpin turn and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc spun into the grass.
Leclerc’s tires dragged gravel onto the track when he returned, forcing the session to be halted for several minutes for cleanup.