United States GP: Vettel makes it three in a row for Red Bull
By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel made it three in a row today during the third and final free practice session for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas this morning. The German double-World Champion recorded a time of 1m36.490s after completing 18 laps in his Red Bull. But this time it wasn’t a complete wipe-out, as Lewis Hamilton came closer and closer and was now in second place, just 0.258 seconds slower than Vettel.
Surprisingly, Pastor Maldonado took third place for Williams, while Vettel’s championship rival Fernando Alonso was fourth, 0.690 seconds off the pace, his team colleague Felipe Massa was again sixth. Second Red Bull driver Mark Webber was seventh, followed by Sergio Perez who was the fastest Sauber driver today on eighth place, as his team mate Kamui Kobayashi was outside the top ten in 14th place.
Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button completed the top ten, grip was low again on the brand-new track and several drivers had problems on the circuit, but the biggest problem was to get the tyres working at the right temperature.
Bruno Senna was 11th for Williams, while Michael Schumacher was again outpaced by Nico Rosberg who was fifth, Schumacher had to be satisfied with 12th spot. Kimi Raikkonen was again struggling in the Lotus and was 13th, his French team mate Romain Grosjean was 17th, but had to sit out part of the session as his car had a gearbox issue.
Daniel Ricciardo was again the fastest Toro Rosso driver in 15th place, Jean-Eric Vergne was 18th. Not much luck for Paul di Resta, he was sixteenth in the second Force India, 2.163 seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel.
Timo Glock was this time the fastest driver of the newest teams, he took his Marussia to 19th place, while the third Frenchman in the field, Charles Pic, was 22nd in the other Marussia. This time Vitaly Petrov was the fastest Caterham driver as he took 20th place, Heikki Kovalainen was 21st.
As usual, both HRT drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan were 23 and 24th, and judging by their times will have problems to comply to the 107% rule during qualifying.
And last but not least, Perez and Pic were summoned to see the FIA Stewards, as Perez tried to overtake Pic on the inside of Turn 7, a bit of an optimistic move, the Mexican hit Pic and forced him into a spin.
It seems Vettel is very quick at the Circuit of the Americas, and qualifying this afternoon should be a piece of cake for him and only technical problems could stop him from adding another pole to his tally, but Hamilton has closed the gap today, and let’s not forget Maldonado, who recently has been very quick during qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
United States GP: Free Practice 3 Results Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:36.490 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.748 + 0.258 3. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.001 + 0.511 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.180 + 0.690 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.247 + 0.757 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.262 + 0.772 7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.298 + 0.808 8. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.415 + 0.925 9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:37.495 + 1.005 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.538 + 1.048 11. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:37.569 + 1.079 12. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:37.760 + 1.270 13. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:37.765 + 1.275 14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.953 + 1.463 15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.547 + 2.057 16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.653 + 2.163 17. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:38.753 + 2.263 18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.689 + 3.199 19. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:40.407 + 3.917 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:40.753 + 4.263 21. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:41.011 + 4.521 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.466 + 4.976 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:43.563 + 7.073 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:44.043 + 7.553