An update from free practice at the United States Grand Prix as the Bulls get up and running at the Circuit of The Americas.
The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) offers a lot to drivers and fans alike. The run down the hill in the first sector has the high-speed, swift changes of direction that mimic Suzuka’s Esses or Silverstone’s Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex. It then has a fast run into something similar to the Adelaide Hairpin from Magny-Cours, before the lap ends in something that looks a bit like the mirror-image of Hockenheim’s Stadium. It isn’t all a lift though: COTA’s signature turn is all its own. Turn One is an enormous corner: uphill, blind and with multiple lines; very much the place where things happen.
Friday's Free Practice was slow to start, with a morning greeted by downpours, the track was home to standing water. However, the rain had thankfully stopped by the time the cars took to the track, although it was still difficult to find grip.
The Bulls spent limited time on the track for Free Practice One with Daniel leading Max out of the garage, both on the Pirelli intermediate tyres. Due to the conditions on track, Max put in nine laps, ending the session in P3 with a 1:48:847. Daniel finished P4, with a 1:49.326 after his nine laps.
The rain intensified ahead of Free Practice Two which limited the majority of the grid from running in the early part of the session. In the end, Max took P3 with a 1:49.798 as he ventured out on the intermediate tyre for five laps of the Circuit of the Americas track with the Team electing not to run Daniel in the rain affected session. Topping the timesheet was Lewis Hamilton with a 1:48.716.
Looking to make the most of the dry running in Free Practice Three the Bulls completed 21 laps and 20 laps respectively. Max with a 1:34.703 for P5 while Daniel finished P6 with 1:34.910.
Summarising Friday's action, Max said:
“These wet Fridays are always a bit boring. It was important to get out in order to understand our car better in these conditions, even if it was only a handful of laps. We tried a few things and collected some data but it is always hard in the rain to tell how the car responds to these changes. It felt pretty good at the end of the session so if it is wet tomorrow, or during the race we will hopefully be in good shape. I think after a day like this there are still a lot of unknowns, we just have to do our best tomorrow, whatever the weather and put ourselves in the best position for Sunday.”
“It was a pretty solid day and there are some promising signs. On the low fuel runs we can be better but I don’t think we’re looking too bad. My sector one was slow as I had traffic on my fast lap and we can be better there for sure. On the straight we still lose a bit to the front runners, even if we ran the same downforce, they have a bit more power so coming up to Turn 1 we already lose a bit. We gain a little bit back in the corners but I think tomorrow if it’s dry you will see a better sector one from us. The long runs seemed more consistent and I was happier with that. Qualifying here is important as it’s not easy to overtake and there could be rain tomorrow, although they said it would rain today and it didn’t, so I don’t really know what to expect. Max ran a smaller rear wing to me today and we had different downforce levels, on one lap there may not be that much difference but I seemed happier with the car on the long runs. Everything ran well and it’s been fun. It’s a really good circuit and with these fast cars, as you can see from my smile, it’s very enjoyable.”