After a damp day in Austin, F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook,

  • Friday’s running at the Circuit of The Americas was largely interrupted by wet weather that is expected to mar much of the weekend in Austin. Drivers were unable to complete any running on slick tyres through FP1 or FP2, with half of the second session being lost entirely to the weather.
  • Many of the drivers were forced to complete their FP2 running on the same set of Intermediates that they used through FP1 due to the limited allocation of tyres, meaning they had to save sets for qualifying and the race in the event of wet sessions there.
  • Numerous drivers lamented the lack of on-track action on Friday as fans braved the wet weather to see only limited running. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen suggested that drivers should be given a practice allocation of tyres, meaning they would have greater freedom. Teammate Romain Grosjean said the matter has been discussed on numerous occasions in the drivers’ briefings, but nothing has been finalised.
  • Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff warned against a potential rise in costs that may come as a result of taking extra intermediate and wet compounds to races, given their sporadic need.
  • In other tyre news, Pirelli unveiled its new tyre coding system for the 2019 season at an event at COTA, confirming that each race will only see Hard, Medium and Soft designated compounds. These tyres will be chosen from a wider range, allowing for different circuit characteristics to still be accounted for.
  • One interesting tidbit from the Pirelli event was a quip from Daniel Ricciardo, who when told he could test the full Pirelli 2019 tyre range in Abu Dhabi at the post-season test said: “I’m not allowed to test for Red Bull and they won’t let me test for Renault!”
  • Sebastian Vettel was hit with a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race after failing to slow enough under the red flag called during FP1. Vettel was not within the prescribed delta, triggering the grid drop that acts as the latest blow to his ever-fading title hopes.
  • Vettel said the penalty was “wrong”, explaining how his action was with safety in mind, but opinions were split between other drivers, with some simply pointing out how it is the same for everyone to deal with.
  • Lewis Hamilton finished over a second clear of the pack in both FP1 and FP2 at COTA, the latter coming with just a single flying lap in the entirety of the session. 
  • Lando Norris and Sean Gelael both enjoyed running in Free Practice 1 as part of their ongoing F1 development programmes, stepping in for Stoffel Vandoorne and Brendon Hartley respectively. Nicholas Latifi had been due to feature in the session for Force India, only for the team to revert to its regular line-up at the last minute.
  • Force India confirmed that Latifi will instead enjoy running in Abu Dhabi, having been pulled from FP1 at COTA due to the poor weather forecast in the lead-up to the session starting and the team not wishing to waste one of his three run-outs.
  • Andretti Autosport chief Michael Andretti was present for Friday’s running at COTA, spotted at the back of the McLaren garage chatting with Zak Brown. Andretti ran Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 entry in 2017, and was known to be in talks with McLaren over its potential IndyCar programme, which was officially ruled out by Brown on Friday.


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