Lewis Hamilton and hurricane Patricia were the main things on people’s minds as the Formula One USGP race schedule kicked off on Friday (October 23) at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Could Lewis Hamilton win his third world championship this weekend? What effect would hurricane Patricia, the most intense tropical storm ever recorded in the Western hemisphere, have on the USGP? Two free practice sessions were scheduled for today. Hope you like the photos.
Free practice one
For the start of this session went to the top of the media stand that overlooks Turn 1. You get a great view of the cars speeding along the front straight, up into the steep left-hand Turn 1, then down the hill into Turn 2. The first practice session was scheduled to start at 10.00 am, although with about 15 minutes to go we weren’t sure how much of the session we would get with the dark clouds overhead.
With the TV helicopter in place, race fans in the stands and tower, the practice session got underway with the green flag waving.
I remember the excitement I felt as I saw the first car leave pit lane. Even if the session was rained out, seeing the Sauber F1 Team C34 made it all worthwhile.
Williams Martini Racing FW37 with its red brake light glowing as it leaves Turn 1.
Seeing the cars speed away from you as they move through Turn 2 was a sight to behold, with a rooster tail of water streaming from the back of the car and the red brake light looking like a jet fighters afterburner. Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T.
About 20 minutes into the practice session.
“Rooster tails” streaming behind the #9 Sauber F1 Team C34 (top) and Nico Rosberg in the #6 Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team F1 W06 Hybrid (bottom) as they speeds along the front straight.
As the session continued the track got dryer and the clouds seemed to be less ominous for rain?
Was interesting how different cars would take different lines into Turn 1. Some would stay on drivers left, then move over to the right at the apex of the Turn 1 hill. Others would stay in the middle of the track all the way through Turn 1. While, Lewis Hamilton in the #44 Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team F1 W06 Hybrid would stay on drivers right all the way along the front straight into Turn 1.
Headed from the Turn 1 media tower down the outside of the track towards Turn 2. On my way stopped by some photo holes for shots of the cars at the crest of Turn 1 and heading down the steep Turn 1 to 2 hill. Lotus F1 Team E23 Hybrid (top) and Valtteri Bottas in the #77 Williams Martini Racing FW37 (bottom).
With only about 30 minutes of the practice session left, took the media shuttle down to Turn 10 for the iconic COTA tower shot. #36 Sauber F1 Team C34.
“Horizon” with Marcus Ericsson in the #9 Sauber F1 Team C34. Felt great that the first practice session was able to go the full distance without rain interruption. Took the next shuttle van back to the media center for to edit photos over lunch.
Free practice two
As the day progressed it became apparent the afternoon practice session may be cancelled due to torrential rain. However, the rain started to ease during the half-hour before FP2 which was scheduled to start at 2 pm. So headed out in the media van to the outside of Turn 13.
With about 10 minutes to go before FP2 was scheduled to start, looked up into the sky and saw the dark clouds getting closer, but had hope the session was going to start since the rain had eased.
With 5 minutes to go, the sky opened up with torrential rain, thunder, and lightning. Immediately went for cover under a TV platform. The track warning signs started to warn people to “seek shelter indoors or vehicles, do not seek shelter under grandstands”. With the strong wind and lighting, thought it might be safer to shelter in a nearby marshals stand.
Part off me had hope the cars would get onto the track, but this was more wishful thinking. Especially when I saw a safety car drive past and the amount of standing water on the track became evident.
The track started to look like a “sea of blue”.
Took one more shot of the dark skies before heading back to the media center to dry out my camera gear and myself.
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