The Friday in F1 US GP was not smoothest for all as there were offs and spins along with some gravel moments as COTA returns after a year’s gap.

It was not a straightforward Friday at the front of the field to start the F1 US GP weekend. While Mercedes showed strong pace all-through, Red Bull showed signs of catching up amid some tensions, especially during FP2 between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

While Valtteri Bottas led the way in FP1, it was Sergio Perez in FP2 as the two non-title fighters doing their job in the current scheme of things. The Finn had his sixth F1 power unit installed to improve his power unit pool amid reliability concerns.

For Hamilton and Verstappen, they couldn’t set a proper time in FP2 where the former had his lap deleted due to track limits and the latter did not set his time after a run-in with the Brit. In fact, it started a lap before when the Dutchman got ahead of the Mercedes driver.

Earlier on the out lap, Verstappen went on the inside of Hamilton on the left-hander but was done without them being close to each other. However, the Brit got through the Dutchman on the final corner, which sent him off the road for some bit.

They then had a drag race until Turn 1, where Hamilton stayed ahead eventually, but not before Verstappen termed him an ‘idiot’ while laughing on the radio. It was not necessary, but in a crucial point, the mindgames are fully on between the F1 title contenders.

Hamilton: “Generally, yes it’s been a good day, but still work to do unfortunately. But I’m not unfortunate, it’s the way it is. FP1 was a really good session, made some changes, and wasn’t happy in FP2, and still, not such bad pace, but I think we lost some ground to everyone, or they gained ground, so we have some work to do tonight, as always.”

Verstappen: “I don’t know, we were all lining up to go for our laps and I don’t really understand what happened there. In FP2 on the soft tyre, I didn’t put in the lap – but overall, I mean, it’s not easy out there. You know, the track is quite bumpy and to fight the right compromise with the car hasn’t been easy so far, but I mean there are a few positive things to look at and yes, we’ll continue to work on it also overnight… it didn’t particularly feel bad on the short run. It was just a mess with the traffic.”

Behind the Top 2 F1 teams, it was a mixed bag with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren in the mix along with Alfa Romeo in the Top 10. While McLaren did not shine as much in FP1, they did a better job in FP2 as it was reverse in the case of Ferrari. It wasn’t easy for the drivers had both teams saw offs or lock-ups from its drivers.

Amid the F1 cars of AlphaTauri, Alpine and Aston Martin, there was some hope shown from Alfa Romeo after they got a double Top 10 finish in FP1 and FP2. They have had better practice showing before, but by Saturday and Sunday, the others catch up.

Norris: “It was a good day in terms of result and pace, but not easy to achieve that. Difficult just because of the wind and the bumps and the conditions – it just makes it very tricky out there. And even with the set-up – the first couple of runs I struggled quite a bit but then the final run we made some changes and I was much happier with the car and could push it more and then the lap time came easier.