Grand Prix of America – Qualifying


Hamilton will have to be really unlucky not to seal the Drivers’ Championship this weekend – it requires BOT to win the race and HAM to score less than 2 points, but given this is one of HAM’s favourite tracks and his race engineer Pete Bonnington is back, it’s looking pretty likely.
This weekend also marks the 100th Grand Prix for VER, SAI and MAG.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: VER (1:34.057), VET, ALB, GAS, RIC
    It’s a cold start to the race weekend – it’s barely above freezing in Austin; it’s forecast to be about 18°C for Quali and the race
    Nicholas Latifi is in RUS’ Williams for FP1 again
    Only a few minutes into FP1, LEC reports a problem with the Ferrari engine
    The teams have sets of 2020 C4 soft compound Pirelli tyres – it’s confusing the official FIA timing data, which is showing “broken image” instead of the usual soft/medium/hard icons
    Radio from HAM “These bumps are insane out here, I don’t know if this track is safe…” – there’s a large bump in the tarmac just outside the pit lane exit
    Radio from MAG “That’s a big jump – not a bump – but a jump. At the exit of Turn Nine.”
    15mins into FP1; ALB fastest, 1:37.203 on medium compound tyres
    Ferrari report that LEC’s engine is ok but there could be an issue with his throttle pedal; they’re still investigating
    ALB has a lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19
    VER goes fastest… and then has the lap time deleted for exceeding track limits
    Radio from NOR – his headrest has come loose
    Latifi seems to be stuck in second gear; limping back to the pits
    VET 1:35.734
    VER 1:35.546
    HUL also has a gearbox problem; pitting
    ALB 1:35.451 on the Pirelli test tyres, and then 1:35.282
    SAI spins in Turn 5; recovers; on the radio “cars is ok, the tyres are destroyed”
    VET 1:34.226 on softs
    LEC hits a bump, runs wide in Turn 9
    VER 1:34.057 on softs
    LEC reports another gearbox problem, “I can’t downshift, can you look at it?”
    Radio from HAM “This is the bumpiest track in the world”
    Radio from PER complaining MAG is holding him up, “One of the Haas doing the usual job”
    VER has another lap deleted
    ERI tweets “I don’t like turn 19 at @COTA .Not a fan of the delete your lap system since it happens so often/easily”
    KVY spins; recovers but pulls off to the side of the track
    LEC does a practice start and fumbles it by rolling forward
    Chequered flag; the Pirelli 2020 tyre made it hard to see how the teams compare
  2. FP2: HAM (1:33.232), LEC, VER, VET, BOT
    BOT 1:35.108
    LEC 1:34.742
    GRO spins, across the grass and into the barriers; red flags; asked over radio if he’s ok, “I’m ok but the car is not”
    LEC 1:34.434
    GIO spins in Turn 9; recovers, so only a brief yellow flag
    VET 1:33.890 on softs
    LEC 1:33.533 on mediums
    HAM 1:33.232 on softs
    VER complains “tyres are really dropping off”
    NOR and ALB both have lap times deleted for exceeding track limits
    HAM warned by Bono “Just be careful of track limits”
    VET has a lap deleted, and on the following lap he spins
    Now it’s KVY’s turn to spin
    Radio for LEC telling him to upshift earlier; LEC says he’s already doing that
    Chequered flag but despite that STR nearly loses his front wing as SAI cuts across the track
  3. FP3: VER (1:33.305), VET, NOR, BOT, HAM
    It’s almost 20°C air temp in Austin, a little warmer than forecast
    LEC has another problem with his engine; pulls off just before Turn 19; Virtual Safety Car deployed while his car is removed
    VET 1:34.733
    BOT 1:34.558
    VET 1:34.441 … but then VET has his lap time deleted for exceeded track limits
    VER 1:34.186
    BOT 1:33.904
    VET 1:33.523
    (NOR P3)
    VER 1:33.305


Penalties:

  • “Perez will start Sunday’s race from the pit lane, having been summoned to the Stewards to explain the incident after the second practice session at the Circuit of The Americas. They reviewed video evidence and heard from Perez – but he was ultimately found to have failed to stop for the weighbridge in FP2.” [FIA]
    This probably means they’ll put as many new components on the car so they can avoid future penalties.

Ferrari report that LEC’s problem in FP3 was an oil leak (which they’re still investigating) so they’re fitting a used engine instead; they expect to be ready in time for Q1.

BBC noted that the FIA have published a technical clarification on fuel-flow meters following questions by Red Bull, which is suspected to relate to a competitor rather than their own setup. Could there be an investigation into Ferrari’s recent performance improvements?

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 20°C; track 27°C; barely a cloud to be seen
Lights turn green; Williams send KUB and RUS out
LEC leaves the pits too, presumably just an installation lap to check out the rebuilt Ferrari
KUB 1:38.302
RUS 1:37.386
LEC 1:34.696
VET locks up into Turn 1; abandons his lap
ALB 1:33.984
(NOR P2)
SAI 1:33.916
VER 1:33.549
HAM 1:33.454
Just MAG yet to set a lap time; everyone’s on soft tyres so far
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are RAI, GIO, PER*, RUS, KUB
*Remember PER will start the race from the pit lane due to his FP2 weighbridge penalty
Despite being P1, HAM decides to do “keep practising” and another quick lap
Chequered flag
NOR 1:33.353
RUS P16
GIO P15, GAS P16
GIO P15, RAI P16
GAS P4, GIO P16
Back of the grid: GIO, RAI, RUS, PER*, KUB
(LEC was only P12)

Qualifying session 2
The Mercedes and Ferrari foursome leave the pits in medium compound tyres
Most others are heading out on softs – actually VER is the only other medium runner at this point
HAM 1:33.045
(BOT P2)
(VET P3)
(LEC P3)
(VER P2)
ALB 1:32.898
Hmmm, so do the others need to switch to softs for another run?
5mins left of Q2; order is ALB, HAM, VER, BOT, LEC, VET, SAI, GAS, NOR, MAG, KVY, RIC, STR, HUL, GRO
Chequered flag
GRO P14
HUL P10, KVY P11
RIC P9, HUL P11
VET 1:32.782
LEC 1:32.760
KVY’s time deleted for exceeding track limits in Turn 19; he’s dropped to P13
Middle of the grid: HUL, MAG, KVY, STR, GRO
Incident involving KVY, VER and HAM “noted” … “no investigation necessary”

Top 10 shootout is between LEC, VET, ALB, HAM, VER, BOT, NOR, SAI, RIC and GAS
LEC, VET, HAM, VER, BOT will start the race on medium tyres; ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, GAS will start on softs

Qualifying session 3
Everyone on softs again for Q3
GAS 1:34.252
SAI 1:32.847
NOR P2
HAM 1:32.321
BOT 1:32.029
VET P2
LEC P3
VER P3
ALB P6
Order after the first run: BOT, VET, VER, LEC, HAM, ALB, SAI, NOR, GAS; no time from RIC
RIC on track now, all on his own; goes P8
Everyone heading out for a final run as RIC returns to the pits
VER locks up as he starts his quick lap
Chequered flag
NOR P8
VER P3
ALB P6
VET P2
LEC P4
ALB’s time deleted
HAM abandons his lap
Front of the grid: BOT, VET, VER, LEC, HAM, ALB, SAI, NOR, RIC, GAS

Well, that’s interesting – BOT on pole and HAM P5 – that’s going to make HAM work a bit harder to sew up the Drivers’ Championship tomorrow

Provisional grid: BOT, VET, VER, LEC, HAM, ALB, SAI, NOR, RIC, GAS, HUL, MAG, KVY, STR, GRO, GIO, RAI, RUS, PER*, KUB
*PER will start the race from the pit lane due to his FP2 weighbridge penalty