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Max Verstappen sets pace in Austin with Lewis Hamilton eighth

Max Verstappen sets pace in Austin with Lewis Hamilton eighth
© Reuters
The Mercedes driver used much of the opening session to trial next season's tyres.

Lewis Hamilton finished eighth in the opening practice session for the US Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who is set to wrap up his sixth world championship this weekend, used much of the running to trial next year's tyres.

But, in the closing moments, the Mercedes driver posted a lap good enough to finish inside the top 10.

Max Verstappen set the early pace in Austin, ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon in the sister Red Bull.

Hamilton, boosted by the return of his regular race engineer Pete Bonnington, who was ruled out of last week's race in Mexico following a medical procedure, will be certain of clinching the title that takes him to within one of Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven if he finishes eighth here on Sunday.

The British driver, 34, has won on five of his last seven visits to the Circuit of the Americas, but his Mercedes team ran under the radar at an unseasonably cold Austin on Friday morning.

Hamilton finished 1.3 seconds down on Verstappen, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the only man who can stop Hamilton from securing this year's title, ended the running down in 17th.

Bottas, who must win to stand any chance of taking the title fight on to Brazil in a fortnight's time, also practised on next year's rubber with Mercedes turning one eye to 2019 and securing a seventh consecutive constructors' crown.

Verstappen could have won in Mexico last time out, but was stripped of pole and then collided with Bottas on the opening lap. Here, he led the way to suggest that Red Bull could be in contention once more.

Vettel finished 0.169 sec behind Verstappen with Albon nearly three tenths adrift of his Red Bull team-mate.

Pierre Gasly finished fourth for Toro Rosso ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was seventh.

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Alex Albon pictured on September 28, 2019
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina24141351
United StatesUnited States20231659
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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