Saturday, November 17, 2012

United States Grand Prix: Vettel Clinches Pole

Sebastian Vettel (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
As anticipated, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took pole at Circuit Of The Americas for the inaugural running of the United States Grand Prix. He ran fastest in every session this afternoon. Vettel was, however, challenged in Q3 by Lotus' Lewis Hamilton who came in second and was a mere tenth short of Vettel's pole-setting time of 1:35.657. That is a picture of our front row on tomorrow's starting grid.

"We're very pleased," Vettel said. "It was extremely slippery to start with. The circuit is brand new and it takes a while to come in, but it was quite a lot of fun to slide a couple of corners. In the final section I would have loved to have gone a bit quicker. It was a bit closer than I wanted, but it's fantastic to start on the front and on the clean side." 

Hamilton, in second, replied, "I'm not really concerned about the first corner. I'm more concerned about being on the dirty side of grid. I did a launch there earlier and it was quite slippery. I don't want to get in the way of Sebastian's race but I do want to win."

Behind them sits Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified fifth behind his team mate Romain Grosjean, who was later given a 5 grid gearbox penalty, moving the Finn to fourth. Third row and fifth place now belongs to Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. With only two races left to his F1 driving career it was surprising, but somehow heartwarming, to see Schumi qualify in the top five. Massa drove well this morning and looked as if he was having a better go than Alonso, who seemed to struggle most of each session and ended up qualifying eighth behind Nico Hulkenberg.

The penalized Romain Grosjean sits next to Pastor Maldonado to round out fifth row. Both have driven well this weekend and this must be a bitter pill for Grosjean, but if he can drive cleanly, there is plenty of room at COTA for passing. 

The remaining grid positions in order are:
11- Bruno Senna
12- Jenson Button
13- Paul Di Resta
14- Jean-Eric Vergne
15- Sergio Perez
16- Kamui Kobayashi
17- Nico Rosberg
18- Daniel Ricciardo
19- Timo Glock
20- Charles Pic
21- Vitaly Petrov
22- Heikki Kovalainen
23- Pedro di la Rosa
24- Narain Karthikeyan

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