Mercedes lead Austin’s first free practice session, with Sainz fifth



The Finnish pilot Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) has dominated the first free practice session of the United States Grand Prix, in which Spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) set the fifth fastest time and in which Fernando Alonso (Alpine) had a setback with his car that prevented him from riding for much of the run.

On his first return to the Austin Circuit, the Asturian had to stop his ‘A521’ as a precaution at Turn 12 after smoke came out from the rear, possibly due to a problem with the hydraulic system, and the red flag flew for the first time on the American track.

The mechanics of Alpine They worked against the clock so that the Spaniard could get back on track, something he achieved with just over 18 minutes to go. Finally, he managed to finish the morning shift at the fifteenth square from the time table.

Oblivious to the problems of the two-time world champion, Mercedes and Red Bull were cited in a new fight on the asphalt, with the british Lewis hamilton (Mercedes) setting the first big benchmark time this Friday (1: 37.260) and with the Dutch Max verstappen (Red Bull) at 77 thousandths.

About to reach the equator of the session, the Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez (Red Bull) took over from the current champion, while the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) went off track and hit the wall in an action without consequences.

Hamilton again gave the reply, and the Finn Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), who will change his sixth power unit and that will carry him a five-position penalty on the starting grid, finally rose to the front of the table ahead of his teammate (+0.045) and of ‘Mad max‘, which concluded almost a second behind the dominator of the session.

Sainz, meanwhile, was awarded a creditable fifth place behind Leclerc, both ahead of the French Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and ‘Checo’ Pérez. The British Lando norris (McLaren), the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Finn Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) completed the ‘Top 10’.

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