Vettel leads Red Bull front row at Austin

Sebastian Vettel continues his dominance in Formula 1 with a front row lock-out for Red Bull Racing at the Circuit of the Americas.

The four-time world champion looked as though he would have to give best to his team-mate Mark Webber for most of the final segment of qualifying.

Webber was a tenth up on Vettel after their first Q3 run and the Australian improved further on his second run to take provisional pole thanks to a fresh set of Pirellis.

And yet Sebastian managed to take to the challenge and rise above. Fastest of all in the final sector, meaning he pipped Webber to pole position by just over a tenth of a second.

The Red Bulls were more than three quarters of a second quicker than Roman Grosjean, who put his Lotus ‘best-of-the-rest’ in third, narrowly ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez.

As for Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus substitute Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn qualified in eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez.

Bottas was the qualifying star in Austin, going fastest of all in Q1 and fourth in Q2, but he made a mistake on his crucial lap in Q3.

Last-gasp improvements in Q2 from Gutierrez and Kovalainen knocked Daniel Ricciardo out of the top ten shootout. The Toro Rosso driver will start P11 for the race, ahead of Paul di Resta.

McLaren’s Jenson Button missed the cut by less than two tenths and  wound up P13. He will then drop three places on the grid thanks to a penalty for overtaking under red flags in practice.

Nico Rosberg wrestled an ill-handling Mercedes to P14, ahead of the similarly subdued Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

Adrian Sutil’s poor qualifying run continued as he dropped out in Q1, along with Maldonado’s Williams, the Marussias and the Caterhams.

Caterham’s Giedo van de Garde just edged the battle of the backmarkers to qualify in P19, ahead of Jules Bianchi, Charles Pic and Max Chilton.

So another pole position for Sebastian Vettel. His 44th in the sport and number five front row lock-outs for the constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing this season. Can Sebastian win the race on Sunday? Bring on the action, State-side!

Qualifying times from Circuit of the Americas:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.338s
2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.441s
3. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m37.155s
4. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.296s
5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m37.345s
6. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.376s
7. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m37.452s
8. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m37.715s
9. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m37.836s
10. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.034s
11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.131s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m38.139s
13. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m38.364s
14. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m38.592s
15. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.696s
16. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.217s*
17. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m39.250s
18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m39.351s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m40.491s
20. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m40.528s
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.401s
22. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m40.596s**

107 per cent time: 1m44.668s

*Three-place penalty for failing to observe red flags in practice
**Five-place penalty for gearbox change

9 thoughts to “Vettel leads Red Bull front row at Austin”

  1. Red Bull’s Mark Webber blames himself for losing pole position at the Circuit of the Americas to his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. has the story.

    Mark Webber was left kicking himself for losing pole position for the United States Grand Prix to Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

    Webber (pictured right) held provisional pole for most of Q3 at Austin, with Vettel seemingly struggling to match his pace.

    But a superior final sector on Vettel’s last lap allowed the world champion to pip his team-mate by 0.103 seconds, leaving Webber frustrated about an error on his final run.

    “I didn’t think I had done enough and I needed to improve,” said Webber.

    “The first part of the lap was very good but I didn’t quite get Turns 19 and 20 how I wanted.

    “I tried to squeeze a bit more out but it’s easy to unload the car in these conditions.

    “Sometimes you are happy you have given your best and you’re on the front row, but it slipped through our fingers.

    “Well done Seb – he put three sectors together. I only put two and a half sectors together. It is not satisfying when you do that.”

    Vettel admitted that Webber had given him a tough time so far this weekend.

    “I wasn’t so happy with the first run in Q3 but had a solid run in the end and it was enough to put the car on pole,” he said.

    “It was close with Mark. He seemed to get closer and closer as the weekend went on.

    “Fortunately I could just stay ahead. I think he might’ve made a mistake at the end.”

  2. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was left feeling puzzled after a poor qualifying session at Austin. has the details.

    Felipe Massa says he has “no idea” why he struggled so badly in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix compared to Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.

    Massa outqualified his double world champion team-mate for the two races prior to this weekend’s event in America, but could only manage 15th fastest time at Austin as Alonso put his sister car on row three of the grid.

    “I don’t know what’s happened, I’m very surprised,” said Massa, who will leave Ferrari for Williams at the end of the season after being replaced by Kimi Raikkonen.

    “I’m struggling to get grip from the car everywhere and it’s difficult to explain why.

    “I’ve no idea what’s going on and we need to find out whether there’s a problem with the car or the tyres.

    “It’s a track I really enjoy and I’m normally very quick here, but this year something is not working and I don’t understand why.”

    Massa refused to blame the blustery track conditions for his struggles and said his car had “the same downforce, the same wings, the same everything” as Alonso’s.

    “The race will be very difficult but we need to do the maximum we can to get positions and score points again,” he added.

    “But first we need to understand the problem and understand what’s going on with the car.”

  3. As for Fernando Alonso, the double world champion suffering headaches and back pain following the previous race at Abu Dhabi. And yet, Alonso has commented that he will take part in the US Grand Prix. has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso has suffered from severe headaches and back pain following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but says they will not affect his chances in this weekend’s US GP at Austin.

    Alonso was taken to hospital for scans after the race at Yas Marina two weeks ago, in which he tripped a 25g force alarm in his Ferrari after clattering over the run-off while racing side-by-side with Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.

    Alonso revealed his back has been giving him some pain between sessions this weekend, but he says the issue has not troubled him unduly.

    “My back is not a problem,” he said after qualifying sixth for the US GP.

    “After Abu Dhabi I was fine for three or four hours after the race, but when I did the medical check they found some lack of sensitivity in my left arm and leg and they were a little bit worried.

    “I had a lot of headaches after, because a nerve was compressed and there was not enough blood pressure in my head. The nights were very difficult but slowly the inflammation came down.

    “I had a little bit of pain yesterday and this morning when I woke up, but when you are in the car you forget it.”

    Ferrari struggled to build sufficient tyre temperature in a blustery qualifying session at Austin and Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa wound up only 15th on the grid, but the Spaniard is confident the Scuderia will be more competitive in the race.

    “It was a tricky qualifying, but I think we have better race pace and I expect to have a little bit more of a competitive package [tomorrow],” he added.

    “Starting sixth we will have to survive the start and the first corner and then I think we can fight.

    “I’ve had more impossible podiums than this in the past, but I don’t think it’s fair to think of the podium because we are starting sixth.”

  4. McLaren’s Jenson Button struggled in the qualifying session in Austin complaining of a lack of speed. The end result was P13 but he will drop a further three places on the grid after overtaking a car during a red flag in practice. has the details.

    Jenson Button admitted he was mystified by his lack of speed during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

    The Briton was knocked out in Q2 and qualified in 13th place, but will start from 16th position after being hit with a penalty for overtaking under red-flag conditions on Friday.

    Button finished six places behind McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez and said he expected much more.

    “I haven’t got a clue,” said Button when asked about his lack of pace. “It’s strange, because all weekend I’ve been very quick.

    “I didn’t go quick enough, basically. I don’t know why.”

    He admitted the conditions, warmer and windier than on Friday, had made for a strange session.

    “It’s very weird, especially in Q1 when you see [Valtteri] Bottas quickest and his team-mate out. I don’t get it,” he said.

    Perez will start from seventh position, the Mexican bouncing back from a difficult Friday during which he struggled with a car suffering a mechanical problem that was discovered overnight.

    “It was better than expected. I’m happy to see the car has improved. We did a good job,” said Perez.

    “Tomorrow I have nothing to lose and I hope to give the fans a great race.

    “Unfortunately the work we did yesterday is not going to be useful because the car had a problem, so it’s going to be interesting to see what I can do.”

  5. Esteban Gutierrez and Max Chilton have been hit with penalties for the United States Grand Prix following their incidents during qualifying.

    Sauber driver Gutierrez has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for impeding Williams rival Pastor Maldonado four minutes into the first qualifying segment.

    “Car #12 unnecessarily impeded car #16 between Turns 19 and 20 whilst performing manoeuvres that the stewards consider dangerous,” said the stewards in a statement.

    Gutierrez had qualified in 10th position and will start 20th on Sunday.

    Marussia’s Chilton was also penalised for impeding Maldonado later in Q1 and then Force India’s Adrian Sutil, but the Briton, already starting last, will have to serve a drive-through penalty in the first five laps of the race.

    This is the second time a pre-race drive-through penalty has been awarded. The previous instance was at the Japanese Grand Prix this year, when Caterham’s Charles Pic was hit with one.


  6. This was a difficult qualifying session for Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver ‘underestimated’ the track conditions which meant he could only managed P14. has the news story.

    Nico Rosberg has blamed his poor qualifying for the United States Grand Prix on “underestimating” the conditions.

    The German was 14th fastest in qualifying after being knocked out in Q3 and will line up 12th on the grid thanks to penalties for Jenson Button and Esteban Gutierrez.

    Rosberg believes he was not aggressive enough in the way he approached warming up the tyres, leading to him lapping half-a-second off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Q2.

    “We underestimated how bad it was going to be in qualifying,” said Rosberg.

    “Everybody in my group, as a team, we all just underestimated and were very slow because we did not work the tyres hard enough and they were not working properly.

    “You just drop off the curve, it doesn’t go anywhere and it’s a complete mess to drive.”

    Rosberg is still confident for the race, stressing that the mistake in qualifying was partly down to focusing on race set-up.

    While he accepts that the team could have done things in a different way to improve his qualifying pace, this would have compromised his chances for Sunday.

    “Now we have the experience about the tyres, there are various things that could have been done to make the car faster today,” he added. “But then it would be worse tomorrow, that is the compromise.”

    Rosberg is still hopeful he can make progress in the race, although he expects to rely on making up positions on-track and others hitting tyre problems given many drivers are set to make only one stop.

    “I’ll give everything to try and get a good start to make up positions,” he said.

    “Many people are going to be trying for the one stop, so it can be a bit of a train situation through the race.

    “It’s going to be tough because you can’t really play around with the strategy.

    “It’s about the start, having good race pace and hoping that some people wear their tyres too much.”

  7. The star of qualifying was Valtteri Bottas and yet the Williams driver admitted he could have done better. has the details.

    Valtteri Bottas has admitted he should have qualified higher for the United States Grand Prix, despite producing a star performance to make the top-10 shootout.

    The Finn will start ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race, but after topping Q1 and ending the second segment of qualifying fourth, he underachieved in the final session.

    Bottas will line up on row five after lapping a second-and-a-half off Sebastian Vettel’s pole position time, but had he repeated his Q2 time he would have been seventh.

    It would also only have required an improvement of less than a tenth from his Q2 time to line up fifth, ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

    “I think we really need to be happy about getting into Q3 because we have only been there once and that was in Canada in mixed conditions,” said Bottas.

    “But I have to say, in Q3 we could have done a few tenths better.

    “The others picked up maybe more grip, and in one corner I lost quite a bit of time, looking at the data there was a bit of a gust of wind and I went wide because of that, so I’m not so happy about that.

    “I think we lost one position because of that but we still need to be happy.”

    Bottas also suspects that the more conventional non-Coanda exhaust that Williams has reverted to was worth even more performance in America than it was in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

    This is on top of the car characteristics being far more driver-friendly than they were with the Coanda design.

    “We get more benefits here from that change than in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

    “In the corners where we are off the throttle the car is now more stable, so in the entries and mid-corner the car is more consistent rather than having some aerodynamic losses from the floor.

    “Also, we gained a bit of straightline speed, which means we can carry a little more downforce that gives us some [more] grip.

    “The main thing is the car is more consistent and more predictable to drive.”

  8. Heikki Kovalainen reckons he did everything that could have been expected in United States Grand Prix qualifying, after securing eighth on the grid for his Formula 1 return with Lotus.

    The Finn made it through to Q3 during his first outing for Lotus and was pleased to have finished half a second behind his team-mate Romain Grosjean at Austin.

    “Yeah I am very happy,” said Kovalainen. “I didn’t know what to expect, and it was quite important to stay calm after yesterday when it perhaps went better than anyone was thinking.

    “It was always going to be close in qualifying and even a small mistake or little bit of balance change meant you could drop out of the top 10.

    “It was a bit tricky today, especially when it became cloudy and I struggled a little bit with tyre temperatures, so I could not perhaps get the most out of it.

    “But overall I am satisfied – there was no more on offer from me today. That was it. So not too bad.”

    Kovalainen reckoned that the lower than expected track temperatures had left him struggling to bring the front tyres up to temperatures, a characteristic that Kimi Raikkonen has also suffered from this year.

    “These are the issues Kimi has had in the past and the engineers are not entirely surprised,” Kovalainen said.

    “Romain is more aggressive and his natural driving style is a bit more aggressive and his set-up is more aggressive, so it worked better and he made a great lap.

    “On my last lap in Q3, I didn’t have the best out-lap and didn’t have room enough to keep the tyres in the perfect window. But it is the same issues for everybody.

    “You can always do a bit better but when the temp rises it should be better for us – we should be able to go quicker.”

    Kovalainen doubts the front tyre issue will hamper him in the race, especially with the weather expected to be warmer on Sunday.

    “Yesterday in the warmer conditions both the shorter and long runs felt OK. So tomorrow, it depends a little bit how the weather is,” he said.

    “If it plays into our hands or not, we have to make the most of it. We have to stay calm and take it as it comes and stay focused.”


  9. The Williams team have denied the idea to comprise Pastor Maldonado grid position despite the driver’s claims. has the story.

    Williams has rubbished suggestions from Pastor Maldonado that it deliberately hampered his chances in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

    Maldonado was furious after being eliminated from Q1 and told television reporters straight after getting out of the car that something ‘strange’ had gone on.

    “I think on my car somebody is playing with the pressures or the temperatures,” he said.

    But Williams chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar said that the explanation for the difference in performance between Maldonado and team-mate Valtteri Bottas was down to how the drivers had prepared the tyres out on track.

    “Here everything was about the tyres,” said Pujolar when asked to explain what happened.

    “And depending on how everything is happening on the out lap and how you handle the run – it can go very well or you lose it, because the grip is so low.

    “In P3, the team were very close to have both cars the same, but in qualifying one car didn’t achieve it. That is just how it is with the grip.

    “You only need to lose a bit of confidence and then it looks much worse than it actually is. It is nothing more than that.”

    Pujolar, who was Maldonado’s race engineer for two years, suggested that there were difference in the pressures and temperatures of the tyres between the two drivers at the start of their qualifying laps, but that was not down to anything the team had done.

    “In the way they started the lap there is a difference – but not because there was a mistake. It was just how everything came together. You need to do it [the preparation] in a specific way and it didn’t work out.”

    Despite the explanation, Maldonado still refused to believe that matters were easily explained, and did not rule out the team deliberately doing something to hamper him.

    “Maybe, maybe not,” he said on whether he thought there had been intentional tampering.

    “But I’ve never felt something like that [from the car].

    “I drove for three years in the team and never felt something like that.

    “The car is undriveable. It’s very clear from the onboard [cameras] and the data where and when I’m suffering a lot on the track.”

    Maldonado said he had no explanation for why his tyres had been so difficult to get the best from in qualifying.

    “I don’t know why I am slow and they haven’t told me what the problem is,” he said.

    “The car was doing nothing, turning more one side than the other – something really difficult to know.

    “They are not the typical problems we’ve had through the season. It is something more.”

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