AUSTIN, Texas – Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber topped the practice charts Friday during the opening pair of practice sessions for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
Vettel set a best time of 1:37.305 on the medium compound tire to finish .115 of a second ahead of his Australian team mate at 1:37.420. The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton got closest, but they were another .480 and .653 further back respectively. Hamilton was driving with a new chassis after a pre-event inspection revealed two large cracks in the old one.
Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement Heikki Kovalainen demonstrated his mettle with the fifth fastest time of 1:38.073s for Lotus, right behind his former McLaren team mate Hamilton and ahead of current partner Romain Grosjean, who was two tenths of a second adrift back in eighth.
The two Saubers sat between the black and gold cars, with Esteban Gutierrez shading Nico Hulkenberg with 1:38.229 to 1:38.254. Grosjean lapped in 1:38.255. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 in practice two.
In the opening round of practice Alonso’s Ferrari showed the way, timing in with a 1:38.343 to grab the top spot on the time sheet. The session began with a half-hour delay when fog prevented the medical helicopter from landing. Then, after Jenson Button and Sergio Perez had set the initial pace for McLaren, there was another 20-minute delay as the helicopter had still not arrived.
In the end Button finished second to Alonso, followed by the surprising Valtteri Bottas for Williams in third. Gutierrez was fourth fastest, followed by Rosberg.