Ferrari set the pace in both practice sessions on Friday at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
With the Drivers' Championship already wrapped up after Max Verstappen won the Japanese Grand Prix last time out, teams will be putting plans in place for 2023 as the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes look to close the gap on Red Bull.
Ferrari will hope Friday's practice in Texas is an indication of what is to come over the rest of the weekend following some positive drives from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Sainz topped the time charts in first practice, coming in 0.224 seconds clear of Verstappen in session one. Leclerc was the fastest driver in second practice, which was run as a test to assess the 2023 tyres.
|What||United States Grand Prix, Qualifying|
|Where||Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas|
|When||23:00-00:00, Saturday 22nd October 2022|
|How to watch||Sky Sports|
|Odds||Fastest Qualifier - Max Verstappen 8/13, Carlos Sainz 4/1, Charles Leclerc 13/2, Lewis Hamilton|
Friday's second practice session wasn't the most representative of how the weekend will play out as teams took up the opportunity to run on the 2023 development tyres. Leclerc, who recorded the fastest time, was one of just five drivers able to do regular running after he sat out practice one to allow development driver Robert Schwartzman the chance to hit the track. Therefore, it was no surprise to see Leclerc, to win the United States Grand Prix, come out on top later in the day as his rivals, running on 2023 prototype Pirelli tyres, were unable to make setup changes as they tested unmarked compounds when performing running plans set by F1's tyre manufacturer.
The Monegasque, along with Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, were allowed to do 30 minutes of running at the beginning of the extended 90-minute second practice session, and Leclerc backed up Sainz's strong run from earlier in the day. With the second session almost a write off for many teams, Saturday's third practice will take on much more weight ahead of Qualifying.
Practice one saw five new faces involved as some teams opted to run non-regular drivers in order to comply with regulations to hand opportunities to F1 hopefuls. Schwartzman was the fastest of the quintet but he was still down in 16th as he filled in for Leclerc in the Ferrari. Indycar driver Alex Palou was 17th in Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren, followed by Theo Pourchaire in the Alfa Romeo and Logan Sargeant in the Williams.
Sargeant has been widely tipped to earn a seat with Williams next term with Latifi set to depart. Antonio Giovinazzi effectively ruined his hopes of landing a seat with Haas for next term after he crashed on his second lap and was unable to continue in the session. The Italian, who drove for Alfa Romeo last season, was handed Magnussen's car but failed his audition.
Mercedes sit third in the Constructors' Championship after failing to pick up a single chequered flag in 2022. Many expect the Silver Arrows to come back fighting next term and they are already looking to find improvements. Lewis Hamilton, priced at to win the United States Grand Prix, said on Thursday that he hoped Mercedes' upgrades could help them to close in on Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend.
The Brit was third fastest in practice one and eighth in the second session, while George Russell, who is 16/1 to win the United States Grand Prix, was seventh and 13th respectively. But Mercedes do have a new front wing in the garage and are expected to deploy that at some point over the weekend. There has been plenty of speculation in the pit lane that the wing, which has slot cap separators, could violate the regulations, although an investigation wouldn't be launched until they have used it.
Mercedes are yet to run the wing because if they use it in Qualifying and it gets damaged they would have to change back to their old front wing, which would be a spec change and could mean dropping back on the grid.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.