Laying down the challenge to Formula One World Championship favourite Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton kicked off the US Grand Prix weekend in the best possible fashion, out-pacing the sister Mercedes W07 Hybrid by 0.315 with a quickest time of 1:37.428, on Soft tyres.
Whilst the timing sheets suggest Mercedes dominated the session, the 1.951 gap between Hamilton and Max Verstappen in third was due to the fact that the Red Bull's lap was done on medium tyres; with both Mercedes improving on their SuperSoft times, on the yellow marked Soft compound Pirelli.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, ahead of the impressive Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas for Force India and WIlliams respectively.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh quickest, with Sebastian Vettel coming home in eighth position, 2.560 down on Hamilton.
The two Toro Rosso's of Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top 10.
End of season feel
As the climax to the season draws ever closer, the action represented that feel, with a number of cars not going out in the early stages, and throughout the session, in a bid to save engine and component mileage.
After the initial install laps had been completed, it was Manor's Jordan King, making his race weekend debut as a Friday driver who set the first time of the opening 90 minutes, although Raikkonen soon bettered his effort around the Circuit of the America's.
The Finn's fun at the top of the timing sheets was short lived as Rosberg lapped in a 1:40.223, as both the Mercedes burned a set of SuperSoft's early on, after a number of minutes of changing leadership, it was Hamilton was came out on top, a blistering 1:38.701, as Rosberg bit by bit nudged the gap down to a final gap of 0.337 at the conclusion of the SuperSoft tyre run, which suggests it could be a viable race tyre.
As the rest of the field were focusing on Soft and Medium tyre runs, the World Champions remained unchallenged, as Hulkenberg split the Ferrari's for fourth, and Bottas showing good pace on a Friday, something Williams haven't done too often in the past few years.
Toward half-way, a number of bits began to fall off the cars, with a VSC called for a bit of Vettel's undertray at T19, after he ran wide, which caused his right mirror to became detached, but he held on to it, bringing his Ferrari home, as Marcus Ericsson did to his Sauber , which was stuck in 1st gear.
Attention was then switched to the first long runs, as Hulkenberg, Bottas and Esteban Ocon, ditched the Halo.
Haas at home
For the first time in nearly 30 years there is an American team competing in the American Grand Prix, as Gene Haas's team took to the track. It was comfortable session for the team, a solid P14 and P15 for Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez, who diced for position with Verstappen briefly in the final 20 minutes.
The Renault looked hard to drive in the early low-grip stages, which included a spin for Jolyon Palmer, as McLaren showed that their Suzuka blip was just that, with a good session. Felipe Nasr was a strong P12 for Sauber.
As the Soft tyres were bolted to the Mercedes, Hamilton aborted his first flyer, a mistake in the stadium complex, which left Rosberg out front, by nearly 1s on the previous benchmark set by the World Champion. On his second go however, the Brit lapped in 1:37.248 and that was how it stayed for the rest of the session, with only a brief issue for Haas, when both cars stopped in the pit-lane the only other major talking point.
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.951|
|5.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+2.284|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+2.535|
|9.||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2.703|
|10.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+2.712|
Alfonso Celis Jr
Friday FP1 driver
Friday FP1 driver