Lewis Hamilton quickest in opening practice at US Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton kick-started his bid to seal a fourth world championship in the best possible fashion after topping the time sheets in opening practice for the United States Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton quickest in opening practice at US Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton kick-started his bid to seal a fourth world championship in the best possible fashion after topping the time sheets in opening practice for the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who will win this year's crown if he outscores Sebastian Vettel by 16 points, continued his impressive recent form by finishing more than half-a-second clear of his rival.

Hamilton has won four of the five races staged at the Circuit of Americas and his best lap of one minute and 36.335 seconds enabled him to soar to the summit of the timings in a wet-dry session on Friday morning.

Vettel finished second with Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third - six tenths of a second down on Hamilton's fastest lap - while Max Verstappen, who has committed his future to Red Bull by signing a new three-year deal, finished fourth.

The 90-minute opening session began on a damp track following a sprinkling of rain, and a number of drivers were caught out in the slippery conditions with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo perhaps the most high-profile victim.

The Australian lost control of his car at the penultimate corner and spun off the track, but he returned to the pits without sustaining any damage.

Without further rain the circuit began to dry out, and it was not long before an all-too familiar name emerged at the top of the standings.

Hamilton has won all but one of the five grands prix since the summer break to establish a 59-point lead over Vettel with just four races remaining - and his strong showing in opening practice will give him every confidence that he can improve on that already impressive tally.

Stoffel Vandoorne was fifth for McLaren, but his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who confirmed the sport's worst-kept secret - of that he would be staying with the British team next season - did not complete a single lap following a hydraulics issue.

Felipe Massa was sixth in the order for Williams with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen seventh, and Force India's Esteban Ocon eighth.

Brendon Hartley, the New Zealander making his Formula One debut this weekend for Toro Rosso, finished 14th.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up