UNITED STATES: Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz topped the timing charts during the first practice session of the 10th American GP. He was two-tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. His Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc took over the top position in the subsequent second practice session in Austin. The second practice was extended as a dedicated session for testing the Pirelli prototype tyres for the 2023 season.
Despite being the fastest by a margin and the car having outright pace, Sainz termed his F1-75 as an “uncomfortable” car to ride throughout Friday’s running. He would hope the situation is fixed by the mechanics before the all-important qualification on Saturday. Sainz said that the bumps were a major factor in the ride quality.
He admitted that it was a challenge to obtain a good balance in the car and have a good ride over the kerbs and bumps of the Austin track. On a positive note, he added that the car had a good pace which is what matters the most. According to Sainz, the team is yet to test a few things in FP3 which couldn’t be tested in FP2 due to the Pirelli tyre test.
Charles Leclerc, who had made way for Ferrari junior, Robert Schwartzman’s FP1 debut in the Scarlett car, made up for the lost time during the FP2 session, which he finished on top. He felt that the second practice session of the American GP was the busiest he had done. He was upbeat about the team’s chances on Saturday for the qualification session.
The highly anticipated American GP witnessed four FP1 debutants. Theo Pourchaire, Alex Palou, Logan Sargeant, and Robert Schwartzman made their first appearance in an F1 session in Alfa Romeo-Sauber, McLaren, Williams, and Ferrari, respectively.
Antonio Giovinazzi replaced Mick Schumacher in his Haas, only to spin off at turn 6, 10-minutes into the FP1 session. The car got lodged in the tech-pro barriers, and as a result, the gearbox and clutch of the Haas received extensive damage, so no further action was taken in the session.
The final grid for the American GP will consist of a few drivers with grid penalties. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu will take a 5-place grid drop for a new internal combustion engine, their fifth of the year.
Mercedes brought their final upgrade package of the season at the American GP, but it remains to be seen if the intriguing front wing, which is a part of the upgrades along with the reprofiled floor edges, will be used through the American GP weekend.