FP2: Hamilton tops rain-affected session

Date published: October 19 2018

Lewis Hamilton: Stays on top in Austin

The rain continued to pour in Austin, Texas and Lewis Hamilton continued to set the early pace ahead of the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton topped a very wet session, where there was no track action for the first half of FP2, with a 1:48.716 on the intermediates as the circuit gradually dried out.

The Brit was a second quicker than Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen in P2 and P3 respectively, but the biggest story of the session was confirmation of a three-place grid drop for Sebastian Vettel after failing to slow down sufficiently for red flags in FP1.

It appeared we were set for our first dry run of the weekend after a wet FP1, but a heavy rain shower hit the Circuit of The Americas circuit just before the lights were due to go green again.

Prior to the FP2 starting, the Safety Car was squirming around all over the place on its first exploratory lap and that was enough evidence for every car to stay firmly in the garage as the clock session clock started to tick down.

30 minutes in…and still no sign of the rain stopping or cars heading out on track. Highlights thus far were a karaoke party at Red Bull and Lando Norris becoming a personal waiter for Fernando Alonso, who fancied a coffee.

Just after the halfway stage…action! Brendon Hartley and Stoffel Vandoorne went out to brave the very wet track conditions.

The Toro Rosso driver put the first timed laps on the board – a 1:58.773 followed by a 1:57.109 on the extreme wet tyres.

Slowly but surely, other drivers began to come out to play. Raikkonen getting in on the action with a 1:53.443 on his first run.

That remained the benchmark with 20 minutes of the session remaining, although only six drivers had timed laps on the board at this stage.

Gasly was next to join in the fun and immediately got to grips with the conditions, shaving a tenth off Raikkonen’s best to become the new session leader. He then found further improvement with a 1:52.751

Sergey Sirotkin was then brave enough to stick the intermediates on, but there was still too much standing water for him to trouble the top of the leaderboard.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Raikkonen and Vettel re-emerged with used inters but both were struggling for grip.

Nico Hulkenberg and Gasly traded top spot as track conditions improved, but then out came Hamilton for the final five minutes and immediately setting a 1:48.716 which, at the time, was at least 1.4 seconds quicker than the rest.

Gasly and Verstappen narrowed the gap slightly to one second in P2 and P3 respectively in the last couple of minutes.

FP2 timesheet

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:48.716
2 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1.012s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.082s
4 Fernando Alonso McLaren 3.012s
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 3.492s
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 3.789s
7 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 4.354s
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 4.638s
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 4.727s
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 5.196s
11 Charles Leclerc Sauber 5.385s
12 Lance Stroll Williams 5.921s
13 Sergio Perez Force India 6.247s
14 Esteban Ocon Force India 6.632s
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 6.73s
16 Carlos Sainz Renault no time set
17 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull no time set
18 Romain Grosjean Haas no time set
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas no time set
20 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes no time set