USA F1 Grand Prix 2017 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton Dominates Friday Practice

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2017

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 20: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 on track during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 20, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest times over each of the first two practice races for the 2017 USA Formula 1 Grand Prix at Austin, Texas on Friday. Hamilton also posted the fastest-ever lap on the Circuit of the Americas.

Hamilton finished faster than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in P1 and was quicker than Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing in P2. The Formula 1 official Twitter account detailed the finishing times at the end of P2:

P1 Recap

Before then, Hamilton was the quickest during a P1 session blighted by tricky conditions caused by mixed weather. A murky and wet day made the going tough on the Circuit of the Americas, but Hamilton didn't seem to mind.

The Mercedes man chose the supersoft tyres for the slick track and handled the drive superbly. Ultimately, Hamilton finished just over half a second quicker than nearest title rival Vettel.

Sky Sports F1 provided the final times from the opening practice session:

While Hamilton dealt well with the conditions, more than one of the other drivers struggled. Among them, Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo spent most of P1 struggling to stay on the track.

Ultimately, the Australian couldn't manage it and his slide off the circuit led to a 16th-place finish.

Ricciardo had his problems, but teammate Verstappen did manage to fare better. The 20-year-old finished fourth fastest on the day he signed a new contract to stay with Red Bull until 2020, per the team's official website.

There was also a rude awakening for debutant Brendon Hartley, with the Porsche driver hit with a 25-place grid penalty by FIA after internal changes to his vehicle, per Andrew Benson of BBC Sport:

P2 Recap

P2 saw Hamilton again in fine form. This spectacular, record-breaking lap was one of the highlights of Hamilton's drive, per Channel 4 F1:

It meant Hamilton was the fastest at the halfway point, with Verstappen and Vettel next quickest. Going fastest over the first two sessions of P2 left Hamilton with a commanding advantage for the final 30 minutes.

The Formula 1 official Twitter account detailed the impressive speeds Hamilton was setting in Texas:

Further back, Renault pair Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg were struggling to break into the top 10, with the latter as far adrift as 18th. Meanwhile, Verstappen wasn't finished, continuing on while Hamilton and Vettel took time out in the pits.

When Vettel did return to the track, he was unhappy with the state of his car:

The delay in dealing with Vettel's complaints cost the Ferrari man vital laps. Meanwhile, Hamilton sped past the checkered flag, now on the compact soft tyres, certain he had done enough to lead the timesheet after today.

So it proved as Hamilton and Mercedes showed their comfort on COTA ahead of a vital race where the 32-year-old could seal a fourth world title on Sunday.

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