Fernando Alonso set the early practice pace at the United States Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso has set the early pace as practice for the Circuit of the Americas’ second running of the United States Grand Prix. The Spaniard lapped quickest in Friday’s first practice session, which was delayed and shortened by heavy fog.

The start of the practice session was delayed by forty minutes, courtesy of a dense blanket of fog which eventually began to burn off. After fifteen minutes’ running, the session was suspended again – this time when officials discovered a mechanical problem with the medical helicopter.

Alonso was still suffering the effect of his back-jarring at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as evidenced by the visible physio tape on his neckOnce a replacement chopper appeared on the scene, the session was able to resume with just over half an hour on the clock.

Alonso quickly moved to the top of the timesheets – ahead of Jenson Button, while Valtteri Bottas took his Williams into the rather giddy heights of third-fastest, only four-hundredths of a second off the Spaniard’s leading pace.

Esteban Gutiérrez was an equally encouraging fourth-fastest in his Sauber, outpacing the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Mark Webber, Nico Hülkenberg and Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten positions on the timesheets.

Lotus ‘super sub’ Heikki Kovalainen finished the session thirteenth-fastest in his first outing for the team, lapping a quarter of a second slower than new teammate Romain Grosjean.

Having qualified for his FIA Super License last week, Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat was seventeenth-fastest in his first Friday practice outing for the team as he prepared for his full-time Formula 1 debut next year. The GP3 Series champion was just two-tenths slower than Daniel Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel’s quest for eight wins on the trot began in a low-key manner, with the German not posting a truly competitive time in the opening session en route to finishing 18th-fastest.

As usual, the final four positions comprised the Caterham-Marussia quartet, with Caterham’s test driver, Alexander Rossi, getting a rare outing behind the wheel of the CT03 in place of Giedo van der Garde. The Californian finished quickest of the foursome, while Marussia pay reserve driver Rodolfo González once again brought up the rear, grinding to a halt with a technical issue late in the session.

2013 United States Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:38.343   16
2. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:38.371 + 0.028 25
3. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:38.388 + 0.045 17
4. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:38.532 + 0.189 18
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:38.657 + 0.314 21
6. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:38.979 + 0.636 21
7. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:39.005 + 0.662 17
8. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:39.083 + 0.740 18
9. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:39.158 + 0.815 18
10. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:39.200 + 0.857 15
11. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:39.238 + 0.895 13
12. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:39.256 + 0.913 17
13. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:39.487 + 1.144 18
14. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:39.699 + 1.356 15
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:39.836 + 1.493 15
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:40.863 + 1.520 19
17. Daniil Kvyat RUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:40.065 + 1.722 20
18. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:40.662 + 2.319 21
19. Alexander Rossi USA Caterham Renault CT03 1:41.399 + 3.056 21
20. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:41.605 + 3.262 19
21. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:42.054 + 3.711 19
22. Rodolfo González VEN Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:43.716 + 5.373 17

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.