5 things we learned from Friday’s practice at the 2022 United States Grand Prix

Friday’s day at the Circuit of the Americas had a different flavor, with a second practice session extended to 90 minutes to allow Pirelli to test the tires for the 2023 prototype. This race means it’s hard to distill a pecking order from the on-track action, but there’s plenty of takeaway.

1. Ferrari’s early pace looks promising

Carlos Sainz set the pace in opening practice, with the Spaniard finding his rhythm very quickly, while the speed he found throughout the day kept him very optimistic for the rest of the weekend. end.

READ MORE: Leclerc leads extended practice session in Austin as drivers test 2023 Pirelli tires

He feels like there’s work to be done to get him comfortable over the bumps, but the low-fuel pace looked very encouraging, both with him and teammate Charles Leclerc behind the wheel.

On higher fuel the picture is more oblique – although FP2 is left to tire testing, the focus will be more on which one works in FP3.

2. Red Bull remain favorites

Red Bull can clinch what will be their first constructors’ championship for nearly a decade this weekend if Ferrari fail to top them by 19 points, and although Sergio Perez’s drop of five grid places for a new internal combustion engine isn’t ideal, they should have the pace to get the job done.

The four-time world champions are just a fraction behind Ferrari when running low on fuel, but moving forward when riding heavier. There is work to be done, however, with Checo saying they need to find gains on the balance between high speed and low speed.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails Red Bull’s positive COTA start as Perez eyes qualifying damage control

And while Verstappen may have already wrapped up his second Drivers’ Championship, he’s not slowing the pace. He even did his first track walk in a long time to give him a chance to assess the bumps after the track was resurfaced.

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3. Improved Mercedes to lonely and familiar third place

Lewis Hamilton hailed the efforts of his Mercedes team for delivering another improvement to the track – including a new front wing, floorboards, floorboards and rear wing endplate.

However, they are unlikely to be in contention for victory, with our data suggesting the Silver Arrows are in their now familiar position of third in the pecking order in both metrics.

READ MORE: Hamilton ‘super grateful’ to Mercedes for providing US Grand Prix upgrades

That said, Hamilton said the car felt better around Austin and while they can make improvements overnight, he doesn’t think they’re that far behind the two leading teams. It could make this weekend interesting if he’s right.

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4. Alpine seems to be top of the midfield

Alpine’s advantage over McLaren is set to continue this weekend, with the French team emerging as the best of the rest in both short and long-term simulations.

The French team ran their upgraded floor on Esteban Ocon’s car in FP1, with chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam saying it delivered the performance expected.

READ MORE: Why COTA remains a favorite for riders and fans as it prepares for its 10th United States Grand Prix

He added that the car was doing well on a resurfaced track, with Ocon and Fernando Alonso saying they were happy with their data collection and the car’s initial balance.

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5. Young shooters get noticed

An adjustment to the rules for this year means F1 teams are required to race young drivers at least twice at an FP1 during the season – and in Austin four teams took the opportunity to use part of their allowance.

Logan Sargeant, favorite to make his F1 debut next year with Williams if he gets enough Super License points this year, was one – the American impressing the team with his efforts on Friday morning.

READ MORE: FP1 debutants Pourchaire, Palou, Sargeant and Shwartzman reflect on ‘incredible’ first session in Texas

Alfa Romeo were also delighted with Theo Pourchaire’s first shot in an F1 car, while McLaren were happy to let IndyCar champion Alex Palou get a few push laps under his belt once he had completed his data collection program . And Ferrari was able to collect more data on its junior Robert Shwartzman. A useful day from all points of view.

FP2 Highlights: United States Grand Prix

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