F1 Winter Break
Hamilton fastest, Vettel penalised in wet US F1 GP practice
Posted By: Editor   |  19 Oct 2018   |  10:24 pm GMT  |  136 comments

With practice day being hampered by wet weather, Lewis Hamilton topped a session of limited running whilst his championship rival’s dour end to the season continued with a grid penalty.

The majority of the 90-minute session was spent with no cars on track, with drivers citing a lack of tyres as the reason for avoiding the tricky conditions, despite the high chances of the rain returning for Saturday qualifying.

Hamilton only completed a couple of laps in the final moments of the session, but it was enough to set the pace with a 1:48.716, a full second faster than Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The Ferrari drivers didn’t set times close to Hamilton’s benchmark, but the experimental nature of the session means that times set are largely irrelevant; Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel finished ninth and tenth respectively and around five seconds down.

Front-runners Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo were two of five drivers who didn’t bother setting times, and most of the running was completed by drivers who didn’t run in free practice one; Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vettel was one of the drivers to make mistakes in the tricky conditions in free practice one. The Ferrari man ran wide twice at turn one, but there was enough runoff to survive.

His future team-mate, however, Charles Leclerc, ran off the track in the sweeping corners of sector one and threw a load of gravel onto the circuit, which brought out the red flags.

During this red flag period, Vettel was judged to have not slowed down sufficiently, and he was handed a three-place grid penalty.

Toro Rosso-Honda rack up more power unit penalties

With Honda continuing to experiment and make modifications to their latest power unit specification ahead of this weekend’s race in Austin, Toro Rosso have elected to take fresh power unit components, meaning both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley will start the race from the back of the grid, unless other drivers earn the same punishment later on in the weekend.

Gasly will drive with the engine in Friday practice while Hartley will use an older one and take the new engine for the weekend.

The upgrade was significant in Toro Rosso’s best qualifying performance of the season at Honda’s home race in Japan, where the pair qualified in sixth and seventh. They fell back in the race but both Toro Rosso and Red Bull will be buoyed by their progress in recent races.

“On both cars, the new units will feature minor modifications to the specification when compared to that used in the Japanese GP,” said Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.

“After examining the power units used in Suzuka, we had some concerns and so we have decided to make these changes, which we believe is the best strategy for Scuderia Toro Rosso for the remaining races of the season.”

Development driver Sean Gelael made another Friday appearance for Toro Rosso in Austin, taking the wheel of Brendon Hartley’s STR13 during the damp free practice one, but setting the slowest time.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m48.716s – 3 Laps
2 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m49.728s 1.012s 10
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m49.798s 1.082s 5
4 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m51.728s 3.012s 3
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m52.208s 3.492s 6
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m52.505s 3.789s 19
7 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m53.070s 4.354s 9
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m53.354s 4.638s 10
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m53.443s 4.727s 7
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m53.912s 5.196s 8
11 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m54.101s 5.385s 9
12 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m54.637s 5.921s 5
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m54.963s 6.427s 6
14 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m55.348s 6.632s 6
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m55.446s 6.730s 8
16 Carlos Sainz Renault No time
17 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault No time
18 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari No time
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari No time
20 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes No time

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

What are your predictions for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

russell says he’s witnessed first hand how hard hamilton works behind the scenes to get mercedes to an unbeatable position and intends to take that to williams..


Lewis is winning but F1 is losing… the winner can be half a lap to a lap faster to the 2nd team if he pushed for the best margin, so what is the fairness and watchability? Thats why lewis is never regarded as a legendary driver – he is expected to win in a much superior car.

I havent watched a race since belgium.


don’t be silly, every human being is different and hamilton so happens to be the best driver to have stepped foot in the sport. they can’t all be of the same ability. why should he give up what he’s been working since aged 8?


Don’t worry Kevin … the people who know the sport well already consider Hamilton an all-time great, legendary F1 driver.

As Andrew M says, to stop watching after Belgium makes no sense, and doesn’t match up with your claims of the Mercedes being a much superior car. Mercedes got spanked hard by Ferrari in Belgium, it wasn’t even close.


So you watched Belgium, saw Vettel beat Hamilton and set up a close title battle and a competitive end to the season, and then thought “nah, not for me, F1’s ruined forever”.

That’s just dumb, no matter what way you look at it.


Igor Grand Wizard
is this you ? another alias?
Never Regarded as a legendary driver?
that’s your subjective opinion.
Any qualitative data on this legendary questionnaire given out to how many people around the globe?
Or is this a sweeping self made statement disguised in a Trump’ish chalk board kindergarten maths sing song?
Did you watch how close qualifying was yesterday?
If you haven’t watched since Belgium then you’ve missed a huge chunk of why at Singapore in a long wheel base car on a tight track Lewis pulled out an amazing qualifying. That was going to be Ferrari POLE.
Then there was Monza and so forth.
Well enjoy Midsommers Murder Kevin,
I’m sure the leaves need raking in and the bins need putting out and on and on.
That’s why I thought all Kevin’s originated with a Brummie accent and loved a Pot Noodle. But I cannot factually consider it to be true. As I have no data . But apparently that’s what alot of people think.


TimW reckons f1 is as good now as it has ever been.

I think he must measure the quality of f1 by how many times lewis wins.


Luke, you’re getting a bit obsessed with me, it’s never going to happen, move on….


Damn, my TimW-LukeC slash fiction is ruined 🙁


I’m absolutely heartbroken. But I’ll be a little less obsessed when you finally acknowledge that f1 in the 90s and 2000s, while not perfect, was significantly better than what we’ve got now.


Lume, ahh yes those great d tracks, Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka, Monza all classics consigned to the dustbin of history!!

I didn’t get lucky, F1 has always produced it’s fair share of exciting races, interspersed with some dull ones.


You got lucky this weekend. Still missing the exciting sound that we had pre PU, thong-less cars, light agile cars, refuelling and the different strategies resulting from that, proper racetracks where corners are not surrounded by aircraft runways, and the unpredictability from year to year, race to race, even.


Luke. I just watched a race where three different drivers from three different teams finished less than three seconds apart, what more do you want?!



Alonso disagrees. He thinks Lewis is a legend. Top 5, actually.


Was the “fairness” when Williams were dominating in the early nineties? Or when Ferrari were in the naughties or Red Bull in the 2010’s? Or for that matter lotus in 65 or Tyrrell in 71 or any number of other teams and years….? All those drivers and not a legend among them due to dominant cars eh? Frankly you sound like you only discovered f1 last week!


If this red flag rule / penalty needs changing, no problem, I agree, but it can only be changed this season if the teams and the FIA agree IN THE FUTURE, maybe even before the next race, however, right now you can’t have one rule for the rest of the teams and another for Ferrari no matter what stage the championship points tally is.


perfect written !!! I watch F 1 since 1970 and I agree totally with your Comment !!! slowly it looks a little bit strange that Vettel get more and more punished for what ??? driving over a few Gravels too fast !!!


very perfect written! I watch F1 since


I photographed racing trackside. The moments that are perhaps the most dangerous in racing are those just after an incident. Nobody quite knows what’s going on, and the rhythm and predictability of racing are broken. Nothing’s more scary than a driver who knows better than the rules, the officials, and everybody else. I don’t think officials can be too stiff about getting drivers to pay attention. People get killed and maimed.


It’s crazy there are those questioning the FIA’s decision. If it was a collision, then yeah, fair play. But rules that govern safety MUST remain zero tolerance. Sebastian took 27.7s to slow and when he noticed there wasn’t a car in distress, he accelerated. Kimi got a similar penalty for not lifting in spa last year.

If drivers decide when and if they have to adhere to red flags then situations like Japan 2014 happen. Sad to say but Jules lost his life because he sped during double waved yellows, lost control and aquaplaned into a recovery vehicle.

What if there was a marshal on track and the unthinkable happened. Let that sink in…


Lewis will get the pole and he will win tomorrow.What else is new? The winner still Hamilton.


And also there was rain…


And everone get’s free tyres, it’s almost Christmas.

This is getting out of line. Rain on top off it all! Who could have guessed.

DHL. UPS they don’t do tyres I guess. I want my Playstation

A stickler among them, get him out of there. Stewards are supposed to do what they are told, end of story. This is becoming almost predictable…or even worse consistent!

Again I want my Playstation

The horror the horror


Ahh he was too fast this time around, well that makes sense. He just needs to catch up, give him a break.


C’mon he’s been driving to slow all season! What’s the big deal now?

Tornillo Amarillo

Definitely this year Vettel, Kimi, Bottas, Alonso, Ricciardo falling down, while Hamilton is still raising…!

And the other winners this year are Leclerc, Max, Ocon, and Kevin.


Charlie heard that Britney Spears is performing and didn’t want an F1 championship fight to distract from the real main event. Vettel had to go.

Ridiculous!!! The conditions were tricky and he did slow down. A little leeway is needed in cases like this.


Can anyone tell me: is the 3 place grid penalty set out in the rule book, or could they instead have handed down a fine or similar?


well if he knew the rules, his behaviour is absolutely inexcusable. If the rules are there, and the penalties laid down, then why oh why would you disregard them?


@richard Two options, 3 or 5 grid penalty. They gave him the lesser.


Vettel likes red: Red card, Red Ferrari, Red Bull…


Red mist ect…does it mean the Italians wont nickname him the Red Baron then? Or was it Will Farell, now I digress



But most of all… He loves Red Mist.


Difficult one. On the one hand people cry for consistent application of the rules, and with that in mind, I guess it was fair that Vettel was penalised.

My personal view is that Vettel clearly slowed and there was no danger. I think he should have been maybe had a metaphorical slap on the wrists and a warning.


Hal, Ocon and Ricciardo both got the same penalty for the same offence this year, rules is rules.


vettel is comical without helmut marko keeping his mental in check.


I think there may be 1 thing we all agree on; these grid penalty rules have got to go! They are ruining the spectacle and destroying any hope of a contest.
I do not understand why a driver should take a grid penalty for a mechanical or technical issue, or why a Manufacturer should take a grid penalty for a driver error. Or maybe it is a team sport, all for one and one for all so to say. In which case there should only be one championship.


It’s not a sport, it’s not a show, it’s not a….

A parlour game to take outside to kill time in the rain, or for a paying customer wondering what’s going on

How many words did you say?


This sums it up perfectly, in every way possible it seems. Werey well done!


@ Paul Dalgarno

Hahaha brilliant man. That pretty much sums us up


Predictability and penalties. Just two of the elements that have ruined F1 (imho).

Season’s over for me.

Next year with no live coverage free to air and only highlights on Ch4 I may actually be able to overcome an increasingly painful long term addiction to F1.


Oh, the world wide TV ratings are going to be BRUTAL next year!

Italy swung those figures by 7% downward this year when they went to pay TV. Little’ol Italy! UK going to pay TV is going to kick F1 TV ratings right in the balls. Of course they will find a way to count something somewhere like CH4 highlights to put a spin on those numbers.


The RED flag was Sebastian’s WHITE flag. He’s given up. A driver with that much experience knows what to do when the red flag is displayed.

His and the team’s meltdown started in Baku. They blew a championship year!!


He explain here.


I didnt see it. If it’s like he says, he has a point. Slowing down to that speed to make a delta in wet is quite unsafe.


Slowing down to that speed to make a delta in wet is quite unsafe.

Lol – why bother with speed limits at all, or even rules of any kind ? Just let the drivers do whatever they fancy. What could possibly go wrong?


You forgot about Billy Monger rear ending a car at speed already?

Look, I crap on the PU cars, but they still go at high speed and electric motors and wet engine modes get them there quickly.

And you know FIA gets it wrong all the time too. You forgot about green flags ahead of scene of Bianchi’s death? Who got a penalty for that? Oh yeah…we fans did with the HALO.


Sebee, what happens if every other driver obeys the rules and slows down, but one thinks he doesn’t have to and carries on at full speed?


You forgot about green flags ahead of scene of Bianchi’s death?

Eh – there were double waived yellows = slow down and be prepared to stop. You’re just making up nonsense now (more than usual, which must have taken a Herculean effort on your part).


The car manufacturers currently in f1 also watched Al Gore’s “An inconvenient Truth” documentary. Who got the penalty for that? Oh yeah…we the fans.

Meanwhile Al Gore is belching out more CO2 than a 19th century coal-powered power plant — and that’s just from his mouth.


You have a real talent for daft comments seebee as we all know but this steps way over the mark.

Only one chap paid the penalty that day.

The ultimate penalty.

Your viewing issues really do not even register.

Red flag – slow or stop. It’s drilled into all racers – except your boy who can pick and choose apparently.


Looking to the future, Silverstone will hold the 1-007th prix since F1’s inception. So a James Bond theme would be great for the F1 UK fans, Sponsors and Lewis.


The penalty system needs to be looked at – dropping Seb three places is just wrong, he did nothing unsafe.

That said, his excuse on why he took 30 seconds to slow to 50km/h is pathetic. “Ooh, there might have been cars behind me.” Were there, Seb? Did you check your mirrors? Does an F1 car really take that long to slow from 250km/h to 50 in the wet, even braking gently?

Do me a favour.


have you heard of bianchi?


raikkonen said “what do you mean? he was on the side”


It’s not about doing anything unsafe, it’s a rule. HAAS’s floor was illegal and penalized because they broke the rules. They were told to change but ignored, hence being protested and ultimately excluded.


don’t you think vettel has got away with enoough this season? he nearly put hamilton into the concrete wall in sochi with those two moves to defend a single attack. newey made him look good back in the day, simple as. fom should line up all the new talent at ferrari and give them a go every season until one is able to take the championship battle to the last race.


Another unforced error!! Vettel is doing his best to hand the WDC to Lewis.


Hope Lewis and Bottas get a 1-2

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