November 13, 2019, 22:17

Lewis Hamilton reigns in the rain to top US Grand Prix time sheets

Lewis Hamilton reigns in the rain to top US Grand Prix time sheets

Lewis Hamilton needed just one flying lap to set the fastest time in a rain-sodden second practice for the US Grand Prix.

Offered the choice between remaining in his Mercedes garage or risking the elements on track, the championship leader told his team he was ready to go.

As in the opening running here at Austin, Texas it was Hamilton’s name at the top of the time sheets on a weekend where he could secure an historic fifth world championship.

Hamilton, 33, needs to outscore Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by eight points to be sure of his title coronation on Sunday evening, and was further boosted by the imposition of a three-place grid penalty on the German for failing to slow sufficiently under red flags during first practice.

Fans huddling in the soaked grandstands were made to wait 80 minutes before Hamilton emerged in his Mercedes with barely any on-track running.

Indeed, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was one of five drivers who did not bother to post a time in the slippery conditions.

Hamilton was a full second quicker than anybody else with the next fastest driver the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, who finished ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Vettel, 67 points behind Hamilton with 100 remaining, finished only 11th.

The mood in the Mercedes camp was buoyant at the close of the day’s rain-interrupted action.

“You know when you tell me to go steady, I am not going to,” Hamilton said over the team radio.

His engineer, Pete Bonnington, laughed: “I know. A leopard never changes its spots.”

Fernando Alonso was another late arrival on the wet asphalt, and he posted the fourth-best time for McLaren.

The poor weather is set to remain for another day, although it should clear in time for Sunday’s race.


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