Mercedes is there, and is a strong candidate for victory on the Austin circuit. At the end of the two free practice sessions held today, the W12s of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas confirmed themselves as the most comfortable cars on the 20 corners of the Texan track, even if the final classification of the FP2 session sees leader Sergio Perez.
Hamilton has seen the cancellation of the time trial that would have earned him the first position (for having just crossed the white line on the outside of turn 19) an error not to be made in qualifying, but which today does not take away from his engineers the references to evaluate the performance of the single-seater.
The final game of a very tense season is being played a lot on the power unit front. Surprisingly, Mercedes brought the sixth endothermic unit to the track on Bottas’ car (which will cost Valtteri 5 penalty positions on Sunday’s starting grid), launching a clear message.
As we have seen in Turkey, Mercedes also wants to be able to count on the Finn in the final squeeze between Hamilton and Verstappen, and will do everything to put Bottas in the best possible conditions in order to take points away from Max, a goal that in the world champion box exclude a priori even this weekend.
However, the two free practice sessions did not fully define the scenario of the values on the field. Mercedes confirmed an excellent starting package, but it is not yet clear whether the margin over Red Bull is large enough to allow Hamilton to start a Saturday full of optimism.
Verstappen did not complete the qualifying simulation, messing up his fastest lap (a braking lockout) and giving up a second attempt.
The Dutchman was also the protagonist of a … curtain at 300 km / h with Hamilton. The two began overtaking each other during a launch lap, traveling the last corner side by side (after Hamilton’s attack) and launching themselves onto the main straight separated by a handful of centimeters.
Hamilton then paraded in front of Verstappen, who greeted the opponent with the middle finger. Technical tests ahead of Sunday, and this is what Max hopes for, who appeared a bit nervous to see Mercedes again very fast on the stretches.
However, Red Bull was consoled by Perez as leader of the day, and with the results that emerged in the race simulations, which confirmed both cars behind only Hamilton. The long-runs showed considerable wear of the tires, due to the works carried out on the Austin asphalt to file as much as possible the bumps highlighted three weeks ago during the MotoGP weekend.
A partial success, the one obtained by the managers of the circuit, given that the drivers still confirmed a very annoying ‘bump’, with the aggravating circumstance that the filing of the asphalt was confirmed aggressive on the tires.
The race, which promises to be two stops, thus sees the addition of a further variable that will complicate the work of the engineers.
The confrontation between Ferrari and McLaren also promises to be anything but obvious. The first day of testing saw the English team soar, but these are results to be taken with a grain of salt.
All Mercedes-powered single-seaters confirmed a good top speed, suggesting a not exactly economical use of the power units.
On the contrary, both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz did not seem to have particularly aggressive engines, then equaling the race pace of the McLarens in the long-runs. The scenario, even in this case, it is not yet clear who will win.
#Perez #front #Mercedes #flexes #muscles