Bottas leads Hamilton and Verstappen in opening practice session at COTA – .

Bottas leads Hamilton and Verstappen in opening practice session at COTA – .

Valtteri Bottas edged out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to set the pace for the US Grand Prix opening practice, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen nearly a second behind in third…
Bottas bolted on a set of softer tires and pumped 1m34.874s for an inch ahead of Hamilton of just 0.045s. However, during the session it was revealed that Mercedes had fitted the Finn’s car with a sixth internal combustion engine, which would result in a five-seat grid penalty.

READ MORE: Bottas, Russell and Vettel prepare for United States Grand Prix grid penalties after PU changes

Mercedes had to be strong on the Circuit of the Americas, having taken pole position in every event on the track during the hybrid era that began in 2014, but it was somewhat surprising that they had such a margin on Red Bull. in the midst of soaring temperatures.

Verstappen’s best effort was 0.932 seconds off the pace – although he used one set of tires less than his main rivals. Teammate Sergio Perez was seventh, his best effort being intriguing on the hard tire, despite the Mexican also using the softer rubber.

Ferrari was the best of the rest in fourth and fifth position, with Charles Leclerc – who spun over gravel (below) – half a second behind Verstappen, but two tenths ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly chasing his impressive form race with the sixth fastest time in the AlphaTauri.

Lando Norris did miss the last streak of turns on his last quick run, then scored heavily on his last set of soft drinks, but his previous record was good enough for eighth, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi in P9, who had to box for change your helmet because it was uncomfortable.

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Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10 while George Russell took 11th place for Williams in another good performance for the Mercedes-linked driver, but he will start from the back of the grid after picking up a new ICE, turbocharger and MGU -H, which will trigger penalties.

Esteban Ocon, who was using the cam visor for this session, finished 12th, just 0.004s behind Russell, but it wasn’t that easy for his Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso, who stopped on the track at turn 12 at the start of the session to pull out the red flag and rank 15th.

United States GP 2021 FP1: Leclerc slides in the gravel at COTA
The Alpine sandwiched the Aston Martins, with Lance Stroll 13th, a hundredth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who is also the third driver so far this weekend to take engine penalties, the quadruple champion of the world taking a new ICE, turbo and MGU-H.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finished 16th, ahead of Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, with last place Nikita Mazepin failing to establish a representative lap time after a spin in the gravel.

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