Day Four of USGP COTA week. What a difference a day makes. Gone was Wednesdays somnambulant demeanor. The tempo picked up and there was activity everywhere.
First up for the 18 Formula One cars was Scrutineering, and everyone was a happy camper. The teams were pleasant and cooperative, and by noon all but two of the teams had passed inspection, and by 2pm local time the 30 Scrutineers were done.
Shortly after the deadline for official entries the FIA Stewards listed all 18 current drivers as eligible to drive, and added two other drivers cleared for FP1 – Max Verstappen in No.38 Scuderia Toro Rosso and Felipe Nasr No.40 Williams Martini Racing.
The Stewards also clarified Qualifying: the slowest four cars in Q1 would not advance to Q2, and the slowest four cars in Q2 wouldn’t advance to Q3.
Other Steward decisions including no penalties assessed to either Marussia F1 Team or Caterham F1 Team for their non-participation at USGP, despite breaching regulations due to current financial circumstances. However both cases were referred to Jean Todt, FIA President.
The weather warmed up nicely and was downright hot by end of day. The beautiful people came out, F1 drivers and owners were interviewed, and F1 held its F1 Extrication Practice in the pits of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, much to the delight of the large crowd of spectators on a Pit Walk.
Several teams practiced pit stops. Amazing how fast four tires can be changed when you only have seventeen to twenty crew members swarming all over the car.
The corner stations were staffed mid-afternoon for the obligatory Systems Check. Safety Car driver, Bernd Maylander and Medical Car Driver, Alan van der Merwe, took turns driving their respective cars around the 3.4-mile elevated road course. Maylander took TTOD with a purple (fastest) lap of 2:26.869. He has been driving the F1 Safety Car since 2000. Maylander has been in his role since 2009. The 2013 USGP COTA pole time was 1:36.338, set by Sebastian Vettel in No.1 Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault.
Formula One has two practice sessions, as does the Ferrari Challenge Series. The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Series has an afternoon practice, and the day ends with the annual Marshal Pit Lane Walk.
Let the fun begin!