It was at an incongruous time for the Europeans that this weekend of the United States Grand Prix was triggered in Austin. Under a bright sun, the Circuit of the Americas welcomed the EL1s and we were able to discover five substitute drivers on the track.
Théo Pourchaire took the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C42 in place of Valtteri Bottas, while Robert Shwartzman drove in place of Charles Leclerc at Ferrari. At McLaren, Alex Palou replaced Daniel Ricciardo, and Logan Sargeant took over from Nicholas Latifi at Williams.
At Haas F1, Antonio Giovinazzi drove Kevin Magnussen’s VF-22. But unlike the four drivers mentioned above, the Italian was not there as part of a session reserved for young drivers.
An illegal development at Mercedes F1
On the evolution side, Mercedes F1 brought its last package of the season, with a new front wing, a revised floor and vertical fins in front of the floor, and modified rear wing vertical fins.
The problem for the Brackley team was that the front wing was ruled illegal, as it has small fins which appear to violate the Technical Regulations.
Alpine F1 brought a new floor with modified edges, since we saw the appearance of a notch in front of the rear wheels. Finally, Alfa Romeo also brought a modified floor.
We also learned during the session that Sergio Pérez and Guanyu Zhou would receive five grid penalty places. Others followed, notably the Ferrari drivers, over the weekend.
EL1s marked by an early red flag
From the start of the session, the drivers quickly got out on the track, especially the beginners, except Théo Pourchaire, who drove later.
Fernando Alonso set the first benchmark in 1’39.555 with medium tyres, but he was immediately beaten by Esteban Ocon in 1’38.810 with the same tyres.
The session was interrupted by a red flag as Giovinazzi sent his Haas VF-22, or rather Magnussen’s, into the wall. The floor and the front wing were damaged but he was able to bring it back to the pits. While trying to extricate him from the TecPros, the Italian however damaged the clutch and his session ended after four laps.
Max Verstappen then took the lead in 1’38″272 on soft tyres, before improving to 1’37″462. Carlos Sainz took second place, quickly overtaken by Sebastian Vettel then Sergio Pérez, who moved up to the second rang.
Palou made a small mistake and, warned by his engineer of the cause of his fault, he replied enthusiastically: “Yes, I came into the corner too fast. This car is crazy!”
With the soft tyres, the Alpine drivers climbed back into the top 5, as did Vettel, before Lewis Hamilton signed an excellent third sector and closed within a tenth of Verstappen.
The young drivers were obviously cautious and, at mid-session, none of them were in the top 10. Lance Stroll then took the lead in 1’37.460, two thousandths better than Verstappen.
Sainz did not wait to take the lead and clocked a 1’36″857. At Red Bull, we were working on Verstappen’s single-seater, and the mechanics formed a human curtain that did not allow us to see what was happening in the garage.
Hamilton regained second place and Verstappen, after coming out, moved up to second position. Lando Norris didn’t drive late in the session, after climbing back into the top 10, the McLaren F1 car started to change its settings for FP2.
Sainz concluded this first Austin session in the lead ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Stroll and Pérez. Alonso, Russell, Gasly, Norris and Vettel complete the top 10, while Ocon is 11th.
With the exception of Giovinazzi, last, it is necessary to go from 16th to 19th places to find the four young drivers engaged in this session. Shwartzman is 16th ahead of Palou, Pourchaire and Sargeant.
The EL2s will be contested later from 0h to 1h30, since the teams will be on track to test the Pirelli tires for 2023 for 1h30. The four teams having entered a beginner in EL1 will work on it for 45 minutes, and will have 45 minutes of normal driving.
|01||carlos sainz||Ferrari F1-75||1:36.857||19|
|02||Max Verstappen||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:37.081||15|
|03||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W13||1:37.332||20|
|04||Spear Stroll||Aston MartinMercedes AMR22||1:37.460||23|
|05||Sergio Perez||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:37.515||19|
|06||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A522||1:37.713||25|
|07||george russell||Mercedes W13||1:37.802||23|
|08||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:37.810||24|
|09||Lando Norris||McLarenMercedes MCL36||1:37.856||23|
|ten||Sebastian Vettel||Aston MartinMercedes AMR22||1:38.041||25|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A522||1:38.102||24|
|12||Guanyu-Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:38.276||21|
|13||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:38.422||21|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:38.898||23|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:38.922||20|
|16||Robert Schwartzman||Ferrari F1-75||1:38.951||21|
|17||Alex Palou||McLarenMercedes MCL36||1:39.911||21|
|18||Theo Pourchaire||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:40.175||19|
|19||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:40.325||23|
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:43.063||4|