Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vettel Claims Pole as Prelude to Inaugural Austin USGP

Photo credit: Pirelli Photo Service

As a globetrotting sport, the 2012 Formula 1 tour has completed 18 events on the European, Asian and European continents. In the final two races for the current season, visits to the North American and South American regions will present competitors with two additional stamps on their passports for the year.

The second to last event on the 2012 Formula 1 calender was the return of the open wheel series to the United States christening the newly-built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The first United States Grand Prix since the 2007 race held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course, the construction of the complex surrounding the 5.515-kilometer track was a major gamble. While there had been strong support for Formula 1 racing in the US, the last venture at Indy occurred as audience dropped and just two years after a controversial incident relating to tires resulted in only grand prix running with just six cars. The Circuit of the Americas was born off empty land specifically to allure the 2012 Formula 1 competitors back.

The amazin CoTA
Photo Credit: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic for Caterham F1

First hot-lapping the new racetrack outside of a one of the many computer simulators Formula 1 teams utilize, drivers were immediately acquainted to a beautiful but slippery, 20-turn course. Despite the constant fight for grip on the new surface, opinions for the challenging Texas racing complex were generally favourable. Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen referred to the Circuit of the Americas as "... a proper driver’s track" on Friday after navigating the track's unique corners and the many elevation changes.

With only two sessions of notes from Friday practice and final set on Saturday morning, qualifying saw the familiar front-running Formula 1 teams develop the most effective attack for the top grid positions for the 2012 United States Grand Prix. Taking pole was the Red Bull-Renault handled by the Formula 1 driver title-fighting Sebastian Vettel. Posting a winning time of 1-minute, 35.657 seconds, Vettel bested the top lap he set in Friday by more than two seconds.

Though Sebastian Vettel installed himself into third pole position in the past five grand prix races, the Red Bull Racing driver's margin of success in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas was narrow. Lewis Hamilton posted a lap time in his McLaren-Mercedes little more than one-tenth of second short of taking Saturday honours. While Hamilton's McLaren found the speed for a front-row starting spot, the second team car driven by Jenson Button encountered a loss of power during the Q2 session. Button will start 12th for Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

Starting from the second row of grid in the Formula 1 tour's first visit to the Circuit of the Americas will both be Renault powered race machines. Mark Webber is third in the second Red Bull Racing entry while the Formula 1 series' recent winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen will leave the grid in the fourth position Sunday piloting his Lotus F1 Team car.

Wrapping up his final season in Formula 1, Michael Schumacher pulled off a great performance to lead his Mercedes GP effort. Qualifying fifth, Schumacher comes to a country where he won five grand prix races in the past. Michael Schumacher fared much better in Saturday's qualifying than teammate Nico Rosberg how struggled to just a 17th fastest pace under the time trial session.

Photo credit: Mercedes GP

Splitting Nico Hulkenberg's seventh place effort driving for Force India, the Ferrari team cars of Felipe Massa and the championship-contending Fernando Alonso will have to move their red race cars from the bottom half of the top-10 to battle for the United States Grand Prix win. In qualifying, the Brazilian driver Massa bettered teammate Alonso could only muster an eighth fastest time. Running out of opportunities on the 20-race calender this season, Fernando Alonso sits 10 points behind Sebastian Vettel ahead of Sunday's event on the Circuit of the Americas.

Scheduled to start at 2 PM eastern time, the 2012 United States Grand Prix will be a puzzling 56 lap race. While the track is still short on providing grip, low wear to Pirelli racing tires has some driver and teams planning a one-pit stop event Sunday.

Formula 1 competitors and crowds for the inaugural Formula 1 event at the Circuit of the Americas will enjoy a sunny 56-lap feature. The Sunday race in Austin, Texas will take place under comfortable temperatures topping 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) another the afternoon start time for the United States Grand Prix.

2012 Formula 1
United States Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Constructor
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
4 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
5 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
9 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
10 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
12 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
13 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
14 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
15 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
16 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
17 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
18 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
20 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
21 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
22 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1

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