• United States Grand Prix - FP1

Alonso fastest as helicopter issues shorten FP1

ESPN Staff
November 15, 2013
The lack of a medical helicopter in FP1 delayed the session © Getty Images
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Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in a bizarre first practice for the United States Grand Prix that was curtailed due to heavy fog and the lack of a medical helicopter.

The times, therefore, are not a reliable indicator of performance as drivers had to fit their usual 90 minute schedule into less than an hour. For the record, Jenson Button was second fastest ahead of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez in fourth.

Sebastian Vettel finished the session in 18th as he focussed on heavy-fuel running, while Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber could only manage eighth behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari and the two Mercedes drivers.

With heavy fog blanketing the circuit early in the morning, the start of the session was delayed by 40 minutes because the medical helicopter was unable to fly from its overnight holding place. The session was still intended to be an hour long when it finally started at 09:40 local time despite the lack of the helicopter at the circuit.

After very little in the way of running the red flag came out again, with race control citing "further problems with the medical helicopter" as the reason. Once a helicopter had landed at the medical centre the session was finally restarted with 32 minutes remaining, leading to a busy session with all 22 cars often on track at once.

The lack of running was particularly unfortunate for Heikki Kovalainen as he tries to get up to speed with the Lotus for the first time. Kovalainen wasted no time in getting out on track to complete 18 laps and ended the session 13th fastest, 0.249s off team-mate Romain Grosjean in 11th.

Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Rossi were two other drivers who will have been left frustrated by the delay. Kvyat - making his first FP1 appearance for Toro Rosso - managed 20 laps and was only 0.202s off Daniel Ricciardo's time, while Rossi ended the session in 19th place, faster than race regular Charles Pic.

Another FP1 substitute driver, Rodolfo Gonzalez, saw his session come to a premature end late on as his Marussia stopped on the side of the track with smoke coming from the engine.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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