Lewis Hamilton made an impressive start to the United States Grand Prix weekend in Austin, Texas by topping the first Formula 1 practice session on Friday morning at the Circuit of The Americas. Hamilton arrived in Austin trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 33 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, having not won a race since the end of July. The Briton is a three-time victor at COTA, as well as claiming the last F1 win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 2007, making the United States a happy hunting ground for the defending champion. Hamilton and Rosberg came out of the blocks early in FP1, immediately pulling clear of the field with laps on the super-soft tire. Hamilton
Daniil Kvyat has stressed his “respect” and “loyalty” towards Red Bull’s Formula 1 programs as talks regarding his plans for the 2017 season continue. Kvyat was demoted from Red Bull’s senior team to its junior outfit, Toro Rosso, following the Russian Grand Prix in May. The Russian driver struggled to get to grips with life further down the grid, scoring just two points in the run to the summer break, but bucked the trend by qualifying seventh in Singapore before finishing ninth. Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has long expressed a desire to keep Kvyat with the team for 2017, but Red Bull chiefs Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz will make the final call and may elect to promote GP2 driver
Sebastian Vettel is not yet thinking about negotiating a new Formula 1 contract with Ferrari beyond the end of 2017, preferring to focus on the final four races of the current season and developing a new car for next year. Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 and scored three race wins in his maiden season with the team, but has failed to reach the top step of the podium in 2016 as rivals Mercedes and Red Bull have pulled clear in the pecking order. Vettel’s contract with Ferrari expires at the end of next season, but the German stressed that both he and the team are focused on improving its on-track results first. “I think we are all fairly busy at this time to focus on the four races that are left and focus in particular to prepare for next year,” Vettel said.