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Hamilton sets the pace early in damp FP1 in Austin

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Lewis Hamilton set the pace in a murky and damp first practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver's best lap of 1:36.335s was over half a second quicker than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

United States Grand Prix - Free practice 1 results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.335s 18
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.928s + 0.593s 20
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:36.979s + 0.644s 10
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:37.339s + 1.004s 21
5 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:37.352s + 1.017s 26
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:37.570s + 1.235s 23
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:37.598s + 1.263s 20
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:37.808s + 1.473s 25
9 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:37.861s + 1.526s 20
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:38.093s + 1.758s 24
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:38.408s + 2.073s 16
12 Lance Stroll Williams 1:38.534s + 2.199s 25
13 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:38.904s + 2.569s 19
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:39.267s + 2.932s 28
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:39.336s + 3.001s 17
16 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.366s + 3.031s 14
17 Sean Gelael Toro Rosso 1:40.406s + 4.071s 25
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:40.448s + 4.113s 19
19 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:40.828s + 4.493s 25
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren 4

The 90-minute session got underway in gloomy and overcast conditions. Early light rain had stopped by the time the track went green, but the Circuit of the Americas was still damp in parts. McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel were the first to emerge for shakedown laps.

Conditions meant that intermediates were the consensus choice for the start of the session. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was the first to complete a timed lap, but his team mate Lewis Hamilton soon took over at the top with 1:50.146s.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen quickly raised the stakes. He cut over two seconds off the target time on prototype intermediate rubber he described as "simply lovely." His team mate Daniel Ricciardo went third fastest shortly after going for a spin in turn 9 as a result of running over the wet kerbs.

Toro Rosso's test driver Sean Gelael - sitting in for Daniil Kvyat this morning - had a similar low speed spin in turn 16. He slid on the wet grass and was lucky not to connect with the barrier. Force India's Esteban Ocon was likewise caught out by the wet kerbs, this time spinning at the penultimate corner.

Times began to pick up as conditions started to improve. Vettel soon moved the dial with a lap of 1:45.960s, but his team mate Kimi Raikkonen ran wide and off in turn 19 to demonstrate that it remained tricky out there.

Halfway through the session, Williams' Felipe Massa ventured out on supersofts only to have the same issue as Raikkonen. Even so, it wasn't long before everyone was switching to the slicks for the remainder of first practice.

Ricciardo led the way, quickly going under the 1:40s mark. Verstappen lowered the bar to 1:38.158s, with Hamilton almost immediately meeting the challenge and going almost two seconds faster.

Bottas initially matched Hamilton's efforts before flat-spotting his tyres into turn 1 and suffering severe vibration. It meant an early end to his morning's run. However, many teams had already concluded there was little to learn in the cool and cloudy conditions.

Fernando Alonso was the only driver to not set a timed lap in FP1, although he completed a number of installation laps. A suspected hydraulic leak meant the newly re-signed McLaren driver was left sidelined in the garage.

Making his Formula 1 début at Toro Rosso, Brendon Hartley was 14th fastest. Understandably, the Kiwi spent much of his session sorting out teething problems with his crash helmet and seat position.

Along with Vandoorne and the two Williams, Hartley and Galael were the the only drivers to break into their stocks of ultrasoft tyres during the session.

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