FP3: Hamilton splashes his way to P1


Lewis Hamilton could have potentially wrapped up pole position for the United States GP with his P1 in final practice if, of course, qualy is cancelled.

As Hurricane Patricia touched down overnight it brought treacherous conditions to Austin and the Circuit of the Americas with heavy rain and high winds.

McLaren aptly summed up the conditions early Saturday morning by saying “even ducks wouldn’t like this weather.”

Despite concerns about whether FP3 would go ahead, and COTA closing the gates to spectators until noon, final practice got underway on schedule at 10am local time.

With the session potentially counting towards the United States GP grid – and heavier rain forecast for later in practice – the drivers were quickly out on the track.

Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton, whose opening lap saw him aquaplane off the track at Turn 17, each had a turn at the front before the Ferraris came along. Sebastian Vettel went quickest before lowering the benchmark to a 2:00.380 while Kimi Raikkonen slotted into second place.

Back out on track Hamilton returned to the P1 with a 1:59.517 while Vettel, trying to get back on top, had a slide followed by a spin as he struggled to keep his SF15-T pointing in the right direction.

And he wasn’t the only one. Most of the field had an off or a spin at some stage of FP3 but only Nico Rosberg suffered any damage as his early meeting with the barrier at Turn 3 left his W06 needing a front wing.

As the conditions deteriorated in the final 25 minutes the drivers were not able to improve their times and Hamilton finished quickest of all, 0.863s up on Vettel.

Nico Hulkenberg was third quickest for Force India ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:59.517 9 laps
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 2:00.380 +0.863 9 laps
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 2:00.496 +0.979 12 laps
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 2:00.523 +1.006 14 laps
5 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 2:00.687 +1.170 11 laps
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 2:00.694 +1.177 12 laps
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2:00.785 +1.268 9 laps
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 2:01.008 +1.491 12 laps
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:01.474 +1.957 7 laps
10 Felipe Massa Williams 2:02.199 +2.682 13 laps
11 Sergio Perez Force India 2:02.660 +3.143 12 laps
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus 2:02.825 +3.308 10 laps
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2:02.921 +3.404 11 laps
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2:03.375 +3.858 9 laps
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2:04.399 +4.882 13 laps
16 Jenson Button McLaren 2:05.283 +5.766 7 laps
17 Will Stevens Manor 2:05.378 +5.861 10 laps
18 Alexander Rossi Manor 2:05.607 +6.090 10 laps
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 2:06.792 +7.275 10 laps
20 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 2:09.994 +10.477 7 laps