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United States GP: Vettel unbeatable again and takes pole, Hamilton second

By Berthold Bouman

Sebastian Vettel was unbeatable again at the Circuit of the Americas this afternoon during qualifying for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix. The double-World Champion made no bones about it and dominated qualifying, he is the master of going Faster at the Austin circuit, he already showed that during the free practice sessions. Vettel took pole with a lap of 1m35.657s, which was also the fastest time ever recorded on the by Hermann Tilke designed circuit.

Vettel on pole for US GP

Vettel told the BBC, “We’re very pleased. We started on the right foot in first practice. 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.” And he added, “In the final section I would have loved to have gone a bit quicker. It was a bit closer than I wanted, but fantastic to start on the front and on the clean side.”

His title rival Fernando Alonso was just not quick enough to match the pace of the Red Bull, and the Spaniard finished in ninth place during the last qualifying session, and was also beaten by team mate Felipe Massa who was seventh. But because Romain Grosjean, who qualified very well in fourth place, has incurred a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox of his Lotus, Alonso will move up one place and start the race from eighth place tomorrow.

Despite Vettel’s ultra-fast lap, Lewis Hamilton pushed the German all the way to the finish line, in the end the difference was just 0.109 seconds. Mark Webber took third place but the Australian had encountered a minor technical problem.

Although they were quite off the pace during practice, Lotus had found the right speed again during qualifying, and while Grosjean was fourth, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth — but a full second slower than Vettel. Michael Schumacher finally came to grips with the Austin circuit, and surprisingly landed sixth position, but his team mate Nico Rosberg finished in 17th place and did not participate in Q3.

Nico Hulkenberg was again quick in the Force India and qualified in eighth place, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna were tenth and 11th respectively for Williams, Jenson Button also didn’t make it into the final qualifying session and took 12th place, McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said Button had a throttle problem, but McLaren still has to find out what the problem exactly was.

Paul di Resta in the second Force India was much slower than Hulkenberg and took 13th spot, and he was followed by Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso, who was for the first time this weekend faster than his team mate Daniel Ricciardo who didn’t make it into Q2 and finished in 18th place.

Further down the order were Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, who were on a very disappointing 16th and 17th position, Marussia drivers Timo Glock and Charles Pic were 19th and 20th and fair and square beat both Caterham drivers, Vitaly Petrov was 21st, and Heikki Kovalainen 22nd.

Much to their own surprise, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan did meet the 107% rule, which means they will start from 23rd and 24th place on tomorrow’s start grid.

Asked about the race tomorrow, second-place man Hamilton said, “I’m not really concerned about the first corner, I’m more concerned about being on the dirty side of the grid. I did a launch there earlier and it was quite slippery. My aim is to get a good getaway. I don’t want to get in the way of Sebastian’s race but I do want to win. I will try my best to get through the first turn cleanly.”

Webber, who will leave from third place on the grid, said, “I’m happy to be third on the grid. We can have a strong Grand Prix from there. It’s a great job by team. We’ve got our eye on the Constructors’ Championship and trying to put that to bed.”

Another surprise today were the packed grandstands, it seems the American fans have ‘en masse’ found their way to Austin, Texas, to witness the first Formula One qualifying session on American soil since five years.

For tomorrow even more spectators are expected, as according to the organisers, all tickets for the United States Grand Prix have been sold to the American fans, who, regardless of what others say, do have a heart for Formula One, and they now also have a beautiful purpose-built Grand Prix track, that without a doubt will soon become the American heart of Formula One racing.

Lewis Hamilton was second for McLaren

United States GP: Qualifying Results

Pos No   Driver              Team                     Time      Laps
1   1    Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull Racing-Renault  1:35.657  20
2   4    Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes         1:35.766  20
3   2    Mark Webber         Red Bull Racing-Renault  1:36.174  20
4   10   Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault            1:36.587  28
5   9    Kimi Räikkönen      Lotus-Renault            1:36.708  26
6   7    Michael Schumacher  Mercedes                 1:36.794  22
7   6    Felipe Massa        Ferrari                  1:36.937  24
8   12   Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes     1:37.141  20
9   5    Fernando Alonso     Ferrari                  1:37.300  24
10  18   Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault         1:37.842  26
11  19   Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault         1:37.604  20
12  3    Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes         1:37.616  12
13  11   Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes     1:37.665  15
14  17   Jean-Eric Vergne    STR-Ferrari              1:37.879  17
15  15   Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari           1:38.206  16
16  14   Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari           1:38.437  15
17  8    Nico Rosberg        Mercedes                 1:38.501  16
18  16   Daniel Ricciardo    STR-Ferrari              1:39.114   9
19  24   Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth        1:40.056  12
20  25   Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth        1:40.664  11
21  21   Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault         1:40.809   7
22  20   Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault         1:41.166   7
23  22   Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth             1:42.011  12
24  23   Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth             1:42.740  10

Q1       107% Time           1:43.317

* Grosjean has a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox
  and will drop 5 places

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