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F1 | US GP | Sainz tops FP1 at COTA, Shwartzman the best of the rookies

The on-track action kicked off at the Circuit of the Americas with the first Free Practice session in Austin. Sainz and Verstappen led the way on the Texan evening.

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F1 | US GP | Sainz tops FP1 at COTA, Shwartzman the best of the rookies
Fuente imagen: @Carlossainz55

With four dates remaining to the end of the 2022 F1 season and a champion already crowned, Max Verstappen is a back-to-back world champion.

To meet the requirement of giving preparation time to drivers from outside the category, the teams put several young drivers to race in the single-seaters of the top category as part of their preparation. Logan Sargeant drove the Williams of Nicholas Latifi. The 2021 Indycar champion, Spaniard Alex Palou, entered free practice 1 in place of Daniel Ricciardo, while former F1 Antonio Giovinazzi had the opportunity to drive Kevin Magnussen's Haas. Robert Shwartzman took Charles Leclerc's place, and finally Theo Pourchaire, the youngest on the grid at just 19, driving for Valtteri Bottas in the first hour of action at COTA.

Not even 10 minutes had passed when one of the drivers driving the single-seater for this session only crashed. The most experienced of them, Antonio Giovinazzi, lost the rear of the car in the fastest part of the circuit and hit the Haas, causing a red flag in the session. It should be recalled that the clock is ticking. The Italian did not return to the track due to the clutch overheating and the need for a change of gearbox.

For mounting the fourth engine in his Red Bull, it was confirmed that Sergio Perez will be penalized 5 places on Sunday's starting grid for his home GP at the Mexican Grand Prix. The same was confirmed for Guanyu Zhou.

When the halfway point of the session was reached, Max Verstappen was leading the timesheets with a 1:37.462s, 0.825s ahead of Carlos Sainz. Checo Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz completed the Top5 running on Pirelli's softer compound.

With 20 minutes remaining in the session, Lewis Hamilton managed to be the driver closest to Max Verstappen, managing a 0.183s lap behind the Red Bull driver. Behind Fernando Alonso was pushing for the record in the first part of the session, being only 0.251s behind the Dutchman until Lance Stroll, the Canadian Aston Martin driver took the lead with a lap 0.002s faster than Verstappen, in a sign that the times started to drop. The next leader was Carlos Sainz.

The rookie driver who achieved a better position on the Free Practice 1 board was Shwartzman in P16. Alex Palou impressed as his best medium tyre lap was less than 0.4s off Lando Norris'.

Carlos Sainz was finally the fastest in the first session of the day Friday in Austin, he was followed by Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Sebastian Vettel completed the Top10. Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon were the drivers who ran the most laps with 22 laps each.

The action will resume for free practice 2 at 17:00 local time.

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