Lewis Hamilton poised to sing in the rain

The Ferrari team push a car down the soaking pit lane at the Circuit of the Americas. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The Ferrari team push a car down the soaking pit lane at the Circuit of the Americas. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Heavy rain and thunderstorms forced organisers to delay third practice for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix yesterday.

Practice was scheduled to start at 10am local time (4pm UK time), but circuit organisers delayed the opening of the track by two hours on safety grounds.

Circuit of the Americas tweeted: “For the safety of our fans and employees, today’s opening has been delayed until noon. Further updates will be forthcoming.”

Qualifying was still scheduled to commence at 1pm (7pm BST) but, with the bad weather showing little sign of relenting, the session was in doubt.

If qualifying wasn’t able to start, it was likely to be moved to this morning. The second practice session on Friday was scrapped following the continued bad weather in Austin.

Lewis Hamilton will win his third Formula One championship today if he wins at the Circuit of the Americas and Sebastian Vettel, his nearest challenger, finishes third or lower.

Hamilton, 30, a winner of 20 of the last 35 grands prix, has cut a relaxed figure throughout a season which he has dominated. None more so than here in Austin as he reflected on how it would feel to win title No.3.

“I could imagine it is like getting to the top of Mount Everest and thinking, what next?” Hamilton, who revealed he will not be joined by any members of his family this weekend, said.

“There is no higher mountain but there are equally tough challenges in some lower mountains. I am going to keep on wanting to win. I cannot fathom it. I never thought I’d have three. I never thought I’d get two. It has been the best year. I honestly thought last year was the best year.

“I sat at Christmas thinking it could not get any better than that. But it has.”

Hamilton was taken to the wire by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg last season, clinching the title with victory at the finale in Abu Dhabi. But this season it has been rather more straightforward for Hamilton, who has continued to raise his game while Rosberg’s challenge has faltered.

Meanwhile, British driver Jolyon Palmer has been handed a full-time race seat with Lotus in 2016. Palmer, the highly-rated former GP2 champion, replaces Haas-bound Romain Grosjean, and will partner Pastor Maldonado at the British team next season.

The 24-year-old, son of former Formula 1 driver Jonathan Palmer, has taken part in the majority of opening practice sessions for Lotus this term.

And his promotion to the race team ensures there will still be three Britons on the grid next season. Palmer joins Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Manor are yet to confirm whether Will Stevens will be retained for 2016.