Rosberg sets the pace in opening practice ahead of United States Grand Prix

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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Nico Rosberg was fastest in Friday’s rain-hit opening practice session for the United States Grand Prix.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected to wreak havoc with this weekend’s schedule as Lewis Hamilton bids to close out his third Formula One world championship.

Flash flood warnings have already been issued in the Austin area with heavy rainfall forecast to batter Texas through until Saturday evening.

An overnight deluge, ensued by persistent light precipitation, disrupted Friday’s first practice session – and with the rain expected to intensify it could make the day’s second session, which gets under way at 1400 local time (2000BST), a complete washout.

For now it was Rosberg, who led the way after completing only seven laps in the tricky conditions at the Circuit of the Americas.

The German, who has been cast 73 points adrift of Hamilton, posted a best lap of minute 53.989 seconds to finish the session more than one second faster than the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat. Daniel Ricciardo was third in the sister Red Bull, 1.6 secs adrift of Rosberg.

Hamilton, who will win the championship here on Sunday if Sebastian Vettel finishes third or lower, completed only four laps on Friday morning. He was 1.7 seconds slower than his Mercedes team-mate and finished fifth in the standings.

The Briton, bidding to become only 10th driver in Formula One history to win the championship on more than two occasions, has seen his path to glory made considerably easier after Vettel was hit with a 10-place grid drop for taking on a new engine.

Ferrari driver Vettel, who completed 10 laps, was sixth in Friday’s opening session – marginally slower than the man whom he trails in the championship.

Carlos Sainz was fourth for Toro Rosso with his team-mate Max Verstappen seventh. Kimi Raikkonen finished eighth for Ferrari with Fernando Alonso, who is running an updated Honda engine here in Austin, ninth. The W illiams of Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10.

Bottas provided a scare for his Williams mechanics during the session when he lost control of his car as he approached his garage. Four members of his pit crew had to take evasive action by leaping out of the way. “Sorry about the pit-lane, there is just so much less grip than I thought,” an apologetic Bottas said.

With 20 laps under his belt, Jenson Button completed more running than any other driver. He was 13th, 3.5 secs slower than Rosberg.

Published: Friday 23rd October 2015 by The News Editor

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