Max Verstappen set the pace for Red Bull in opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday in Austin, edging out Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel as drivers got their first taste of the 2020-spec prototype tyres.

After seeing his win hopes in Mexico fade last weekend following a grid penalty and two early clashes in the race, Verstappen was quickest out of the blocks at the Circuit of The Americas in FP1, setting a fastest lap time of 1m34.057s in the Red Bull RB15.

Verstappen's lap saw him beat Vettel by 0.169 seconds at the head of the timesheets as a number of drivers saw their times get deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19.

Charles Leclerc had initially split Verstappen and Vettel, lapping six-hundredths of a second off the benchmark time, but saw his effort get scrubbed for running wide to drop him back to seventh in the final classification.

A similar fate befell Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who originally went P4 with a late effort before seeing his time get removed, before later recovering to finish eighth-fastest.

Hamilton spent the majority of the session running on Pirelli's prototype tyres for the 2020 season. Drivers were given two sets of the blank tyres - equivalent to the 'C4' compound - to use throughout FP1, giving them a chance to get acclimatised to the new specification and give feedback.

Alexander Albon finished third-fastest for Red Bull in FP1 ahead of Toro Rosso's Pierre Gsaly, with Renault's Daniel Ricciardo taking fifth overall.

Romain Grosjean ended the session an impressive sixth for Haas ahead of Leclerc and Hamilton, with Racing Point's Lance Stroll taking ninth. Kevin Magnussen completed the top 10 in the second Haas car.

The session went by without any major incident, with the only stoppage coming courtesy of Williams development driver Nicholas Latifi, who was sidelined by an issue that had forced him to come to a halt in the first sector. Latifi returned the car to the pits, but a replacement gearbox is required before George Russell returns to the cockpit in FP2.

A number of drivers reported finding big bumps in the circuit, with Hamilton even questioning the safety of the track in his initial radio calls to Mercedes in the session.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix gets underway at 3pm local time (8pm GMT).

 

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