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Friday in the United States - team by team

21 Oct 2016

A round-up of the opening day's action from the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin...

Given that there was so little running last year because of the rain, Mercedes split their tyre strategy in FP2, with Hamilton focusing on mediums initially, and Rosberg on the softs before both switched to the supersofts. They were quick, but Red Bull look a threat on both single-lap and long-run pace right now.

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:37.743, P2; FP2: 1:37.358, P1

"The running of the car was different between P1 and P2 because of the temperature; it was very cold when we ran this morning. The weather also had a bearing on the balance of the car as it altered as a consequence of the changing wind direction around the track. It should be different tomorrow because the weather is going to change again, as it does frequently here in Austin, and it means what we learn today might not necessarily help us for Saturday."

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:37.428, P1; FP2: 1:37.649, P3

"This circuit remains special for me as I won my third World Championship here last year. It's great to see so many fans enjoying F1 in the US and coming out to show their support. On track it's been a great day for reliability and getting our programme done. Given the wet weather conditions here last year and the lack of reference points for each tyre compound Nico and I had to cover as much ground as possible to help with our understanding. We've still got to go away and analyse the data overnight to make sure we're ready for P3 and qualifying tomorrow."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) 

"It's great to be back in Austin with some fantastic sunny weather. It's been a good day and we've managed to get through our programme without any issues. We've taken a look at all three tyres during the course of the day and tried to close off as many open questions as possible as there are still a lot of options on the qualifying and race strategy. During the afternoon session long runs Lewis tried the medium compound tyre whilst Nico explored the soft and both ran the super soft tyre. We've lots of work to do tonight still and it looks like it could be pretty close between the three top teams. We need to get everything right if we're going to have a good weekend."


Button lost a little time in FP1 with an engine problem which was cured by a change of sensor, but otherwise McLaren had a very good day. They worked progressively to hone the set-up as the conditions changed and earned strong top 10 positions as a result in FP2.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:40.362, P13; FP2: 1:38.801, P9

"It was a good day in the office. We completed our programme and were able to put a good number of laps under our belt, which was very helpful. 

"In the second session we also tried the different compounds and we will need to choose carefully, because the Supersoft seems to have quite a lot of degradation, as we expected. We'll make our decision once we have gone through all the data we gathered today.

"We tested several items, aero parts and mechanical settings, and some things went better in FP1 and some in FP2, so we have some work ahead of us to be ready for tomorrow."

Jenson Button - FP1: 1:41.663, P18; FP2: 1:38.713, P8

"Today wasn't too bad. I really enjoy driving around here but there's definitely still some more work to do. This track is always tough on tyres as there's high degradation, but it's the same for all of us, so I think we'll be okay. 

"The mid- and high-speed corners are always a challenge for us and the long Turn 17 is tough, especially on tyre wear. A few cars have been hitting the orange kerb in Turns Three, Four and Five, and it's been breaking off parts of the floor, but luckily we haven't had any issues on our car. 

"When we bring a Supersoft compound to a circuit where we're not used to running it, there's degradation, but it's pretty normal and we haven't found it too bad. There's degradation on all the compounds - even the Medium tyre overheats pretty quickly and isn't as consistent as you would like it – so this circuit is definitely tough on tyres, but that's part of what makes it interesting."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director 

"Today we ran through all our planned programmes efficiently and successfully, emerging at the end of the FP2 an encouraging eighth- and ninth-fastest.

"The track temperature was surprisingly low for FP1 this morning, but it had warmed considerably for FP2 this afternoon. That, and the set-up work we'd done between the sessions, led to both drivers reporting good handling balance by the time they'd completed their high-fuel runs at the end of the day."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"Today's free practice ran smoothly, with the team performing many aero and mechanical tests and engine mode confirmations fitting to the circuit. At the end of FP1, one of the sensors on Jenson's engine dropped, but it did not affect the run plan, and was a simple fix of parts to prepare for FP2.

"In the afternoon sun, the track conditions became more ideal for longer runs and tyre testing, so both sessions were very busy today. We haven't found the perfect balance in the package yet, but we were able to gather tons of data to analyse and prepare for tomorrow's qualifying."


Haas' debut on home soil was difficult, as Grosjean experienced unidentified technical problems in FP1, and Gutierrez lost some aero parts in FP2. Both cars also stalled at the end of the pit lane at the end of FP1, necessitating being pushed back to the garage.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:40.826, P14; FP2: 1:39.554, P18

"Not a very positive day for us as we've been struggling with some technical problems with the car. The balance was not too bad, but we just didn't get the performance. There will be a lot of work tonight. Looking at the data, we have to try and get the best out of the tires. It's such a cool track to drive, but we just didn't manage to get it right today. Hopefully, we'll have everything sorted for FP3."

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:40.970, P15; FP2: 1:40.114, P20

"It wasn't an easy day for us. Unfortunately, I had an issue with some aerodynamic parts. It disrupted our program as you get a shift on the car balance, which is obviously not ideal to get a reference and work on the setup. We're investigating this, but we believe it's down to vibrations. We now have some work to do to put the car together and try to optimize what we have at the moment. We're going to be working very hard tonight with everything that we have. Hopefully, tomorrow is going to be a better day for us."

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"Not a great first outing for us here. We had a series of small issues – the main one being the rear brake drum's winglets falling off the car. It seems that the loads are very high and we need to fix this before we head into FP3 tomorrow. If things like this happen, your test program goes all up in the air and the data you collect isn't any good as you're missing aero numbers. We'll keep on working on it and try to be as ready as we can for tomorrow."

Red Bull

There was a lot of set-up work going on all day at Red Bull, but it seemed to have paid off, particularly for Ricciardo. He said he was very happy with the way the day had gone and that the single-lap pace wasn't bad, while the long-run pace may even have been slightly quicker than Mercedes. Verstappen said his car needed work on its single-lap performance, and that the supersofts lost speed every lap.

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:39.379, P3; FP2: 1:38.258, P5

"We tried some different setups from FP1 and FP2 to try and find a strong feeling with the car. In the end we found a good one for the long runs on soft tyres but we still need to improve the short run pace. I’m quite confident we can do that tomorrow. We got some good data from the short runs but struggled to find a clean lap. We changed the setup during FP2 in order to improve some issues, which is why my car was worked on for a while. The supersoft seemed to lose grip every lap and get slower, so I think for the race it will be interesting. The long run pace seemed good, I had a Ferrari in front of me and I was catching it so I think that is a positive sign."

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:39.963, P7; FP2: 1:37.552, P2

"I’m happy with today. This morning was solid and the long run pace was good. We made a few changes in between the two sessions and look pretty good for now so hopefully we’ll stay like that. On our long run pace we look like we’re able to match Mercedes, possibly quicker, so if we get the pace we had today against Mercedes on Sunday it’s going to be a fun race. It is only Friday though so let’s see what they’re doing tomorrow but it’s nice to start the weekend on the right foot. I don’t think we’ve got hours and hours of work ahead of us. Just a little bit of fine tuning as always but we don’t have to search for too much at the moment."


Ocon had a spin in FP2 but otherwise ran well as he worked through his programme. Wehrlein took his car back from King after FP1, but lost tyre temperature due to a red flag in FP2 and didn't really get a decent lap time on the board.

King meanwhile did an excellent job on his official F1 race meeting debut, and impressed plenty of observers with a strong performance in FP1.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:43.874, P22; FP2: 1:40.086, P19

"I really like it here. This morning we worked through the usual programme of circuit familiarisation and setup work, then this afternoon it felt like we were really up to speed, which I think came through in my lap time. I made a small mistake and spun, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with how things are going here. I’m looking forward to rolling everything we’ve learned today into qualifying now. It’s looking good so far."

Pascal Wehrlein - FP2: 1:41.131, P22

"It was a pretty condensed and fast-moving session but on the whole, the afternoon went well. We made good progress up to my Supersoft run, then on the out lap the red flag came out and on the second run my tyres were not up to temperature and I ran into traffic. So, not the best, but as I say, the rest of the programme was good.

"The track is really interesting – quite technical and fast-moving and some really exciting features. I particularly like the section of slow corners towards the end of the lap that are similar to Hockenheim. I’m looking forward to more track time tomorrow to see how we’re looking here."

Jordan King - FP1: 1:42.012, P20

"Today has been one of the best days of my life. I had a massive smile on my face as I drove out of the garage, let me tell you. On the one hand, 90 minutes just flies by. On the other, I’ll probably remember each of my 29 laps for the rest of my life. It really has been a dream come true.

"It’s an incredible circuit. Really exhilarating to drive, with all the elevation and camber changes. Plus, the section from 3-9 reminded me of home – it’s a lot like the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex at Silverstone. When I put the Soft tyres on, it was a pretty special feeling. So, yeah, an incredible day for me and difficult to hand the keys back. I’ve always said that the biggest test of my own performance here would be providing data and feedback that makes a positive impact on the team’s performance. But at the same time, I’m incredibly happy with my pace."


It wasn't a great day for Ferrari. Vettel had a small front wing failure that resulted in damage to the right-hand mirror and meant a loss of valuable track time. Raikkonen meanwhile struggled to get a balance in the morning and killed his tyres in the afternoon. There's work to be done here this evening...

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:39.407, P4; FP2: 1:38.865, P10

"It was a tricky day: in the first session, we struggled to find the right set up, and in the second practice I went off with new tires and couldn't set a lap time. Apart from that it was a normal Friday, it looks worse than it is. We did a normal set up work and sometimes it goes like this. We did not have any major issue, we just tried to make a sense out of it and get the car exactly where we wanted. Now we have some work to do on the set up and make it correct for tomorrow. The Mercedes look very strong as they have been all year, but we'll do our best."

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:39.988, P8; FP2: 1:38.178, P4

"To be fair, It was a tough day. This morning we had some problems with a little wing that failed and came off, so we lost some track time, which was a bit "costy" for the afternoon because we couldn't re-balance the car. We are a bit on the backfoot today and I am not entirely happy with the car balance yet; it is a little bit too nervous, but I think for tomorrow we can improve. On Friday usually you don't see the full picture, so hopefully tomorrow we will be a lot stronger. Today the Red Bulls were very quick, there is no doubt, but I still think we have a chance. It's Friday and I wouldn't worry too much. You never know what the others are doing, we knew about ourselves, but we didn't have the best day. For sure it will be very close with them and it will be difficult to match them tomorrow with the speed that they showed today, but I think the Ferrari you saw today is not the Ferrari you will see tomorrow."


Renault had a scrappy day: Magnussen lost a little time in FP1 with an electrical problem, while Palmer had spins in Turn 18 in FP1, and Turn 8 in FP2 as he struggled with his RS16 while learning the circuit.

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:41.942, P19; FP2: 1:39.159, P12

"It's great to drive around the Circuit Of The Americas even if we did have a couple of small issues today. I think we've got scope to be further up the order, which means we should be fighting for points come race day. That's what we all want."

Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:42.33, P21; FP2: 1:39.455, P17

"My first impressions of COTA are what an awesome track! I did have a couple of moments learning the limits here and we've got a bit of work on the set-up, but nothing other than the usual work you do between Friday and Saturday."

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer

"A reasonable if a little scrappy day for us. Jolyon's been learning the circuit whilst Kevin's morning was partially affected by an electrical issue, then in the afternoon his soft tyres were flat-spotted so the long-run programme had to be modified. Nevertheless, we have sufficient data to head to qualifying and hopefully take a step forward."

Force India

Hulkenberg and Perez were both happy with the way their days went (half a day in the latter's case), and felt they arrived at a good starting set-up. Celis was pleased with his performance, when he ran Perez's car in FP1.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:39.712, P5; FP2: 1:38.508, P6

"It was a straightforward Friday - the way you want to start a weekend, really. We didn't have any major issues with the car and we were able to do a good amount of mileage. We tried a few different things with our set-up this afternoon, so the job tonight is to try and understand the best direction to take going forward. I am reasonably happy with the balance of the car, but I know we can make some improvements tonight. So we're in a good place to start and I am optimistic for tomorrow and Sunday."

Sergio Perez - FP2: 1:38.568, P8

"I was only in the car this afternoon, but I got up to speed very quickly and I am quite happy with my laps – I think we're in a promising position. The car feels okay and I think we found the set-up window quite early. Nico tried a different approach to me and it should have helped the team get all the information we need to make a good decision for tomorrow."

Alfonso Celis - FP1: 1:41.422, P17

"I'm pleased about the improvement I could see throughout the morning, especially in the slow and medium-speed corners, and in the braking zones. I only had two sets of supersoft tyres available, so I had to be smart with how I used them. You never get everything out of a lap on the first attempt and by the end of the run your tyres are no longer at their best, but taking this into account, I am pleased with what I achieved. Most importantly, I went out to collect data for the team and we got all we needed, which is what I am meant to do. On a personal level, it was great to see many Mexican fans out in the stands. I won't be in Mexico City next week, but I was really happy to see support from my home country - it was very motivating."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal 

"We are pleased with how things went today. This morning Alfonso picked up where he left off in Monza and did a good job on this difficult and technical circuit. All the drivers were happy with the baseline balance, but the conditions were very windy, which added an extra challenge for setting up the cars. The main focus was on high fuel running and understanding the three tyre compounds, which performed as we expected with no real surprises. Because it was so wet last year, we have very little reference data in the dry, especially at these warm temperatures, so there was even more learning to be done. Overall, we've made a solid start and I believe we are in good shape heading into the weekend."

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso had a good day and ended up just where they expected to be. The trick now will be to say there as others look to make progress overnight...

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:40.140, P10; FP2: 1:38.971, P11

"It was definitely good fun out there today and a positive Friday overall – last year we didn't get to do many laps here in the dry, so it was a pretty new track for me this time round. I have to say that I've enjoyed the day: this is a special and charismatic track which is exciting to drive! From a performance point of view, we are exactly where we expected to be, but we will keep on working hard and see where we end up at the end of the weekend."

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:40.131, P9; FP2: 1:39.202, P15

"I tried the halo during this morning's FP1 session and I think there's no big visibility implications. Of course, it's a valid item but in my opinion there's enough safety in Formula 1 and we don't need it, but it's not my decision. Regarding today, I think it was a decent Friday for us. We've completed a good amount of laps, ticking most of the boxes on our programme for today. The track conditions were not easy, as there was quite a bit of wind, but in general it was a good day. We will now do our usual job tonight and try to fine-tune everything to my liking in the attempt to be stronger tomorrow."

Jody Egginton (Head of Vehicle Performance)

"The day started well with both drivers being fairly happy with the baseline set-up, which allowed us to step through the FP1 programme efficiently, working on normal set-up work and also some optimisation of brake shape and tyre settings. The tyre data gathered during FP1 was very useful in understanding the required direction, with a focus on sector 3. Of course the normal increase in track and ambient temperatures for FP2 meant some further adjustments were required, which were well targeted by the engineers and allowed the FP2 baseline runs to pass without issue. The short runs on the supersoft tyres were made fairly early in FP2 to allow the focus to switch to long runs, with the FP2 ranking reflecting how close the midfield is. Long runs on the supersoft tyre yielded some useful data to allow us to understand how set-up changes made after FP1 effected car balance on this compound. For the final long runs we split the cars soft and medium to cover off all the required tyre evaluation. The soft tyre performance was as expected, whilst the medium tyre proved a bit more tricky to deal with, however we will work on this tonight. In summary, both drivers and the team have worked very hard today and completed a busy test program without any issues, hence I feel we have a good baseline on which to build on tomorrow."


Nasr had a reasonable day and the mood in camp is optimistic, even if Ericsson had a power unit problem in FP1, and struggled with the balance of his C36 in FP2.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:41.170, P16; FP2: 1:40.219, P21

"It has been not the best day for me. In FP2 I was struggling a bit with the balance of the car. Especially on the supersoft tyres, I did not get a good feeling for the car. We have some work to do for the rest of the weekend. It is positive that the other car seemed to have a good balance, so we can learn from it in order to be stronger tomorrow."

Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:40.287, P12; FP2: 1:39.189, P13

"It was a positive day. I was able to get a good feeling from FP1 on. We worked through different set-ups for the car, and it seems that we are going in the right direction. So far the pace looks good, but we all know that it's only Friday. We need to analyse all the data and see where we stand. Nevertheless, it was a good start to the weekend."


Williams did their usual set-up work while also trying a new front wing and brake ducts. The general consensus is that they aren't quite there yet on balance in readiness for the tough upper-midfield battle on Saturday and Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:39.776, P6; FP2: 1:39.197, P14

"Today's practice was pretty straight forward with no problems for me. We covered all three compounds we have available here this week and did a double install with the halo device. The starting balance of the car was perfectly good, as well as the driveability, but there's still plenty of work to do in both the short and long runs. We can make improvements in all areas I think ahead of tomorrow."

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:40.191, P11; FP2: 1:39.281, P16

"We were not looking as competitive in FP2 on the low fuel as we would have liked, so we need to go away and understand what needs improving. There isn't one particular area that we need to focus on, it's a mix of things that we need to get coming together. It will be a big fight with Force India tomorrow and we need to make improvements overnight in order to get the edge on them."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"Today was a fairly standard Friday for us and the focus has been on completing our work plan as usual and getting the data we need. We had new aerodynamic components on the car this morning that we were testing, a new front wing and brake duct, and these looked reasonably positive with good driver feedback. Valtteri tested the halo this morning as well. It was a purely aesthetic device to gauge driver reaction and visibility. In the afternoon we focused on our normal tyre and set-up work. On the long and short runs we look to be roughly where we expect to be relative to the teams we are battling with, so I'm optimistic we can have a decent weekend. With the midfield looking as tight as it is, qualifying well will be very important, so we need to make no mistakes."


Paul Hembery, motorsport director

"From what we can see so far there is around a one-second performance gap between the supersoft and the soft in these conditions. The medium compound is also about a second slower than the soft, which makes it quite an interesting choice for the race. We saw a high degree of track evolution compared to 2014, with rain dominating the conditions last year. There seem to be a number of strategy options: especially because this is a track that you can overtake on."