BInsults and a middle finger from Max Verstappen in the direction of Lewis Hamilton on the day of training – the World Cup competitors are quickly up to temperature at the Formula 1 weekend in Texas before the race on Sunday (9 p.m. CEST in the FAZ live ticker for Formula 1 and on Sky) came. After a wheel-to-wheel duel over the entire start and finish straight, Red Bull driver Verstappen insulted the world champion in the Mercedes on Friday as a “stupid idiot” and showed Hamilton the middle finger.
After the clearly better times in the first practice session, the Silver Arrows in the second session in the afternoon were no longer so superior and had to hand over the best time to Sergio Perez in the Red Bull. His team-mate, Verstappen, did not make the very fast lap he had hoped for and was therefore audibly pissed off. “I’ve had enough,” radioed the world championship leader after he was again prevented from driving freely by other cars. He came into the pits and switched to test mode for the long haul.
In the first practice session, Verstappen was the only driver less than a second behind the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton. With asphalt temperatures of 38 degrees in the afternoon, Perez and Lando Norris in the McLaren were faster than Hamilton and Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton is the favorite
With five wins from the previous eight races, Hamilton is the favorite on Sunday. But Verstappen has also had very good results in the past on the circuit that is popular with drivers. “It’s a good track, a course where you can enjoy driving. You can definitely overtake here, that’s what makes it special, ”he said on Thursday.
Positive for Red Bull: Bottas, like Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and George Russell in the Williams, got a new engine and will be punished for it on the grid on Sunday. He has to move five places back. “We are suffering a bit in terms of reliability this year, I think that is the sixth engine for Valterri,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. Vettel and Russell each get their fourth drive unit. Because they changed other parts, both of them have to start the race from the back of the field.
The grandstands around the 5.513 kilometer fast track with the spectacular sectors and the observation tower in the middle were not yet full on Friday, but the increasing enthusiasm of the fans in the USA was already noticeable. The organizers are expecting a total of 360,000 spectators from Friday to Sunday, and 140,000 people will be on the track on race day alone.
During the first free practice, rumors about Michael Andretti joining Sauber grew. According to Sky expert Ralf Schumacher, the deal affecting the Alfa Romeo team is now in a bag. There was initially no official information.