US Grand Prix: Red Bulls on top after fog blurs picture

 

They say that everything in Texas is bigger and, unfortunately, here in Austin yesterday that meant the delays caused by the weather.

There was a 30-minute one before the first practice session for tomorrow’s US Grand Prix could begin because of the density of fog, which meant that the medical helicopter could not take off from the local airport. Though the session was eventually started, it was cut from 90 to 60 minutes. There was then a further delay, after Jenson Button had set the early pace, when the helicopter had still not arrived.

To add further spice to the proceedings, Fernando Alonso ended up fastest, from Button and Valtteri Bottas. That’s right, three underdogs leading the more fancied drivers. Throw in Mark Webber in only eighth place for mighty Red Bull, and the champion Sebastian Vettel only 18th in the sister car, and it was clear not everyone was focused on the pursuit of fast lap times.

But Lewis Hamilton was happier. The 2008 champion’s Mercedes was found to have serious chassis damage when it was stripped for intensive inspection prior to the race as the team tried to figure out why it behaved so differently from team-mate Nico Rosberg’s in the recent Abu Dhabi GP. Where Rosberg had finished third, Hamilton could only manage seventh place.

The two cracks that were discovered accounted for the handling problems Hamilton has experienced of late, and a new chassis helped him as he took sixth place yesterday, four-tenths of a second shy of Rosberg. But for rookie Rodolfo Gonzalez’s Marussia gliding to a halt with mechanical problems late in the session, Hamilton would have been quicker. As it was, the Venezuelan’s plight necessitated yellow “slow down” flags at the end of the lap, when Hamilton’s first sector time showed significant improvement on his previous best.

“It was a good session,” he reported. “The car feels good and I think we’ve made a reasonable start.”

Further back, as Romain Grosjean set the 11th-fastest time for Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement Heikki Kovalainen demonstrated his mettle with the 13th-fastest time, only two-tenths of a second adrift. And as local hero Alexander Rossi blew away his Caterham team-mate Charles Pic on his morning-only outing, the Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat likewise demonstrated his potential in the clearest terms with a lap that left him within two-tenths off Daniel Ricciardo, the man who will partner Vettel at Red Bull and whom he will controversially replace at Toro Rosso next season.

There has been a deal of scepticism about the timing of Raikkonen’s back operation, many believing Ferrari scheduled it so that their 2014 driver will not be able to help Lotus beat them to runner-up slot in the constructors’ World Championship. But the Finn underwent successful surgery at the hands of Professor Afshin Gangi at Strasbourg’s University Hospital yesterday. A statement from the Lotus team said: “Kimi will now rest for a few days and he will start his recovery process as early as next week.”

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links