Austin: In-form Lewis Hamilton led a truncated Formula One field at the end of the first practice session ahead of this weekend's United States Grand Prix yesterday.
The build-up to the event at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin has been overshadowed by the demise of Caterham and Marussia. Within the past week the two cash-strapped teams have been forced to enter into administration, with buyers being sought for a rescue package.
Lewis Hamilton during the US GP first practice. Pic/AFP
To ease the burden, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has affording both marques dispensation to miss the race in Texas and next weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
With just 18 cars now due to start Sunday's race, it represents the smallest F1 field since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix. There remains a drivers' title to be won, however, with no surprises come the culmination of the opening 90-minute session at a track that has become a firm favourite with all the drivers.
On the back of a four-race winning run to open up a 17-point cushion to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg with three grands prix remaining, Hamilton comfortably edged FP1.
The 29-year-old posted a lap of one minute 39.941seconds, with Rosberg 0.292secs adrift, followed closely at least by Jenson Button.