Brendon Hartley does well in first Formula 1 practice session
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Kiwi Brendon Hartley did not look out of place in his first session behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.
Changeable weather conditions greeted the 27-year-old and the rest of the Formula 1 field for practice 1 at the US Grand Prix in Austin but he handled the greasy conditions without error and posted the 14th fastest time of the 90 minute session.
The Toro Rosso driver was 2.9s slower than world championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who set the fastest time overall.
Hartley was quicker than both Sauber cars as well as the Haas of Romain Grosjean although the weather rendered times largely irrelevant. He also set faster times than Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso's McLaren but those two drivers did not run during the driest part of the session.
Early in the session all cars used the intermediate tyre as a dry line formed but the curbs were extremely slippery and caught a number of drivers out, who used too much of them.
He had to pit early in the stint to fix teething issues with his helmet and seat but did post a faster time in the wet than his teammate.
The Toro Rosso team opted to park the returning Daniil Kvyat for the first session of the weekend, allowing French youngster Sean Gelael to run the second car. Russian Kvyat is expected to return for this morning's second practice session.
At the half hour mark the cross-over between intermediates and slicks was reached and Hartley set a series of impressive laps that were comparable to regulars in the mid-pack of the Formula 1 field on the ultra-soft tyre.
He was praised for his clear communication over the team radio and completed a total of 28 laps of the Circuit of the Americas track.
The official timing on television displayed the Australian flag next to Hartley's name prompting a number of emails from upset Kiwis while the Sky Sport UK commentary team, led by Herald columnist David Croft, spent plenty of time talking through the differences between the two flags for the worldwide audience.
Hartley will incur a 30-place grid penalty for the race after his team changed the car's power unit before practice got underway. He will still take part in qualifying tomorrow but faces starting from the back of the pack although other drivers could face a similar penalty.
A second 90-minute practice session will run from 10am this morning.