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USGP 20151024 Rizzo 75190

Drivers successfully complete soggy P3, despite spins and spills

Posted on October 24, 2015

Written by Peter Hubbard

Weather conditions remained less than ideal Saturday morning at Circuit of the Americas, as the rain remnants from Hurricane Patricia which hit the West coast of Mexico overnight dumped an estimated six inches rain on the track overnight, and refused to let up during P3 practice.

Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, all the drivers took to the track Saturday morning and completed P3 without major incident.

Braving downpours throughout the session, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton managed to lead the field with a time of 1:59.517, beating out his closest point rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 0.863 seconds.

Sauber's Felipe Nasr, Toro Rosso's Max Verstappena, and Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado also all wondered off the pavement briefly after encountering patches of standing water, but all were able to collect their cars and get then back on track without sustaining damage. Vettel also had a couple of scary moments, aquaplaning off the course at Turn 19, and later spinning out in Turn 9, but was able to rejoin the practice after sliding backwards down the hill.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was not as fortunate, however, being the only driver to dent his car’s bodywork. He slid off at Turn 3, crashing the front of his Silver Arrow into the barriers – but was able to limp back to the pits for a new nose piece before returning to the track.

Nico Hulkenberg posted a strong third for Force India with a time of 2:00.496, slightly better than Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Toro Rosso’s rookie Carlos Sainz. They turned in times of 2:00.523 and 2:00.687, respectively

The Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth and eighth, Slotted between them in seventh was the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

Rounding out the top 10 finishers in P3 were the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the other Williams car of Felipe Massa, with times of 2:01.474 and 2:02.199.

Drivers are hoping for better conditions for the afternoon qualifying session, but weather reports suggest conditions are not likely to improve much, if at all, for the remainder of the day.