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Vettel Takes A Giant Leap Towards Title As Alonso slips to eighth In Austin qualifying
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  17 Nov 2012   |  10:32 pm GMT  |  266 comments

Sebastian Vettel claimed his sixth pole position of the season and surely one of the more important, to put one hand on the world championship crown, as fellow contender Fernando Alonso could only manage eighth place for Austin’s inaugural United States Grand Prix.

A win tomorrow would mean that Vettel would need at worst a 6th place finish on Brazil to be champion, regardless of Alonso’s results, but if Alonso doesn’t climb at least five places from his grid slot, the German will be champion tomorrow night.

Vettel maintained his supremacy from free practice to top every phase of qualifying and illustrate his continued dominance at this stage of the season, on his 100th GP weekend. He is to be joined on the front-row by Lewis Hamilton, who pushed the Red Bulls harder than they anticipated, with Mark Webber unable to match his team mate in third.

Webber and Michael Schumacher were under investigation after qualifying but nothing resulted from it.

Red Bull need just four points to take their third consecutive Constructor’s title tomorrow and with both cars in the top three it would take a pile up or a reliability disaster to stop the Milton Keynes based squad from doing so.

Vettel seems to have found a way around this circuit, particularly the final sector with the tricky Turn 19 that has caught out so many drivers and the triple apex Turn 17. He improved lap after lap during the first two phases of qualifying and heading in to the final shoot-out it looked as if nobody would be able to get within half a second of Vettel, let alone beat the double World Champion to pole.

However, a highly motivated Hamilton made it an exciting battle as they exchanged fastest sector times and he came within 1/10th of stopping Vettel secure the 36th pole position of his career and his fourth in five races.

Hamilton seemed to be the best of the rest behind the Red Bull pair, but he hustled his McLaren around the new circuit and was able to split the two. Although, the result will be bittersweet for the Briton as the even numbered side of the grid is highly disadvantaged at the start of the race due to very low grip levels, meaning maintaining second position will be his prerogative tomorrow.

Estimates of one second difference in the run to Turn 1 have been mentioned between the clean and dirty sides of the grid. Hamilton will have to come across to the clean side as soon as possible at the start to avoid being swallowed up.

Alonso has struggled throughout the weekend, ending qualifying slower than Felipe Massa as he couldn’t get the best from the tyres and will need another rabbit-out-of-the-hat race to stop Vettel from heading to Brazil as a three-time World Champion. If Vettel is to claim victory tomorrow then Alonso will need to finish fourth or better to take the fight to the final race of the season.

“We never managed to put together the best lap,” said Alonso. ” We knew it would be a complicated weekend but clearly today we were too slow and we will start from too far back.”

With a conservative approach to the tyre selection by Pirelli it has been clear during the weekend that a one-stop race is very likely. This also meant that the cars needed to complete a run of three to five laps on the option tyre to produce the fastest lap, a point which proved crucial in this morning’s final free practice. However, temperatures rose dramatically before qualifying and it became easier to bring the tyres up to operating temperature.


In the colder temperatures of FP3 McLaren showed very strong pace on the longer prime tyre runs, which could offer Hamilton a chance tomorrow should the weather allow it. The sister McLaren of Jenson Button suffered a power issue in Q2 and will start the race in 12th place.

Behind the top three, Romain Grosjean had an impressive session taking into account his lack of running in practice, taking fourth place ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen, but he will be demoted five places down the grid due to a gearbox change.

This will push Michael Schumacher up to fifth place in his penultimate Grand Prix, the veteran producing a stellar performance whilst Nico Rosberg will begin the race in 17th place.

The Force India of Nico Hulkenberg proved right his recent employment with Sauber as he will take seventh, after Grosjean’s penalty, as team mate Paul Di Resta could only manage 13th.

Behind Alonso is Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan completing the top ten after once again having a strong Saturday. It looked as if the Williams could have been even more of a threat during the early phases of the session, but they were unable to improve in the same way as the top teams.

Another notably strong performance came from Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman taking 14th place and his best start since the Spanish GP. He has been the victim of the Q1 drop-zone eight times this year, but today it was the turn of team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Crucially at the tail end of the field both Marussia cars were able to out-qualify the Caterham duo and give themselves a very good chance of maintaining tenth place in the Constructor’s Championship.

[More to follow]

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, Austin, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m35.657s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m35.766s + 0.109
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.174s + 0.517
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m36.587s + 0.930
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m36.708s + 1.051
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.794s + 1.137
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.937s + 1.280
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m37.141s + 1.484
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.300s + 1.643
10. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m37.842s + 2.185

11. Bruno Senna Williams 1m37.604s + 1.808
12. Jenson Button McLaren 1m37.616s + 1.820
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m37.665s + 1.869
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m37.879s + 2.083
15. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m38.206s + 2.410
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m38.437s + 2.641
17. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.501s + 2.705

18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m39.114s + 2.556
19. Timo Glock Marussia 1m40.056s + 3.498
20. Charles Pic Marussia 1m40.664s + 4.106
21. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m40.809s + 4.251
22. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m41.166s + 4.608
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m42.011s + 5.453
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m42.740s + 6.182

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266 Comments
  1. Robert N says:

    Ironic that after all the discussions of who would be the more worthy WDC between Vettel and Alonso, the latter is being beaten by his team mate in qualifying ….

    1. Phill says:

      So what, one bad weekend, is he not allowed that? I think both drivers have had another excellent year, but this was a stupid comment Robert. Really, think before you post.

      1. KRB says:

        Didn’t Vettel qualify behind Webber at the last race (before his penalty) and at Korea? Vettel leads Webber 11-8 in quali this year. It’s now Alonso 17-2 over Massa this year.

        Alonso did make a mistake on his fast lap, and it cost him.

      2. Rob Newman says:

        Truth hurts, eh?

      3. rad_g says:

        Yap, yap, yap. They’ve taken it to Brazil with Vettel nearly crying.

      4. Toni says:

        Truth??? What about FACTS!!!!!

      5. **Paul** says:

        To be fair Webber is in a different league to Massa. I think that Roberts post is absolutely accurate; you may not like it but there we go..

    2. KGBVD says:

      +1

      “He hasn’t made any mistakes all season.” Yea, he also didn’t put together one clean lap in qualifying. The cream always rises.

    3. Simmo says:

      Yet at the first 3/4 of the season it was the other way round. Ironic that you seem to have not mentioned the first 3/4 of the season.

    4. Val from montreal says:

      + 1000%

      1. CarlH says:

        You’re good at percentages.

        Nothing like exaggeration is there?

    5. Marcelo Leal says:

      Indeed, and again nobody says that Massa was almost half a second faster than Alonso. Ferrari does not have the car that media is trying to “create”. The difference is that Hamilton split the Red Bulls, and Jenson Button can not even go to Q3. And don’t say that he got a problem on the car, because he was always 1s behind Hamilton. The car’s problem was a real gift for him, as the final result would be a shame anyway. Hope this time we have a prove that Alonso could not get the max of his car, and end this thing that the car is slow and he is always getting what the Ferrari car is not capable of.

      1. BillyBob says:

        Alonso has gotten the best out of a car that has never been fastest this season. He has driven like a true champion, Any real fan of F1 has to admire what he’s managed given the limitations of the machinery involved. It’s been one of the main highlights of the season. Today his teammate managed to out qualify him (for only the second time in 19 races) and the [mod] come out in force. Sad.

      2. Frank says:

        Hogwash. The Ferrari was very competitive at the start of the season. ALO just never took advantage. Contrast that to VET. When his car became stronger he was a fixture on pole and on the podium. Part of being a champion is taking advantage of your strengths and capitalizing on opportunities. VET never chokes under pressure and there are not many times that he has failed to deliver the full potential of his equipment. ALO seems very un-championship like constantly whining about how weak his car is. Just shutup and get behind the wheel and deliver the best result you can. He has done neither this weekend and thats why in my mind he is not worthy of a championship this year. Imo his best days are behind him and i dont think he will ever win another WDC.

      3. James Allen says:

        The Ferrari was 1 sec a lap off the pace at the start of the season! Look at the grids for Melbourne and Sepang

      4. BillyBob says:

        Frank, you’re comments are so completely at odds with reality that commenting further seems senseless. “In your mind” sums it up I guess.

        Cheers mate.

      5. AuraF1 says:

        Yeah, Jenson and Webber are always a second behind their teammates – oh except when they’re faster than them… Stupid comment.

      6. KRB says:

        It was. I think Hamilton is faster, but would never say he’s a second faster than Button. I would say on a course like today, a 97-sec lap, that Hamilton would be 3.0-3.5 tenths faster than Button over that lap.

        No driver on the grid is a second slower than his teammate. They just wouldn’t last in F1 if that was the case!

      7. Kuda says:

        +1
        I am an Alonso fan, however I don’t think the Ferrari is as bad a car as he would like us to believe.

      8. KRB says:

        It’s not a bad car, but that RB8 is a monster. They were on rails in the triple-apex, and I didn’t see them go wide at Turn 19 ever in qualifying. They didn’t look even remotely ragged thru there, while others on the limit did.

      9. NickSilv08 says:

        +1 The way the media (and many people on here) talk about his ‘super powers’ in a ‘terrible’ car is sooo boring now. It really isn’t that bad a car. Ferrari 2009, that was a bad car.

      10. Galapago555 says:

        Hilarious… “nobody says that Massa was almost half a second faster than Alonso”

        Q3 performance so far this season: ALO outqualified his team mate 17 times out of 19 GPs, including yesterday’s results.

        Race performance: ALO outscored MAS 16 times out of 18 GPs.

        I have no further questions, your honour.

    6. yugin says:

      Vettel and Webber have a qualifying record of 11-8 this season. Are you then going to criticise Vettel for not getting the maximum out of the car during qualifying eight times?

      1. Alberto says:

        I do believe like Martin Brundle said that Alonso focused his setup on Race (heavy fuel load), thats why he couldnt manage to get heat into the tyres with low fuel.
        Hopefully he will be able to get at least 4th or 3th in the race to keep the title alive until last race.

    7. Paddock F1 says:

      Please, give fernando a break. To be in the hunt he is still worthy and I think given what he’s achieved this year in a rarely updated car is pretty special. Whoever has the most points is the most worthiest.

    8. kovi says:

      a small step for a lap, a giant leap for a championship.

    9. Quattro_T says:

      Hmm, Massa is 2-17 against ALO in qualy and 95-245 in championship points – how exactly do you choose to interpret those stat? LoL

      WEB-VET stats: qualy 7-12; points 167-255. Add to that, WEB was beating VET easily halfway through the season, until something happened after he signed his contract extension…

      Using your standards VET is veeery overrated compared to WEB – I tend to agree on that one!

      1. Jim Dee says:

        To be fair to Massa I think he runs slightly different parts to Alonso so I don’t think the team vs team qualifying stats are a fair comparison.

  2. Rob Newman says:

    Fantastic qualifying. It was good to see all cars were out on the track all the time instead of staying in and coming out at the last moment.

    I feel very much vindicated. I have said this before. Look what happens when Ferrari gives equal cars to both drivers. I was surprised to see how Massa’s times fell in Q3 but happy to see him ahead of Alonso. I hope he doesn’t have to sacrifice his place to Alonso at the start. How can Alonso say this is the best the car can do? That is the best he could do. He can’t blame the car this time. Shows who can’t handle pressure. Wonder why he is so confident that he will outscore Vettel and take the championship. Is there something we don’t know?

    Hope there won’t be a first corner carnage but I don’t trust Hamilton; he is one person who doesn’t like Vettel taking the Championship. Shame about Grosjean’s penalty but happy for Kimi who managed to get up there without doing 200 laps on a simulator like some others.

    Vettel has done a very good job throughout the weekend. I want him to win tomorrow.

    1. Sebe says:

      Equal cars.

      New track – equal experience at the track.

      I kept saying Massa is good and wasn’t getting the car. I absolutely agree with you and today’s effort proves it.

      Perhaps Alonso wants to be taken out so he doesn’t lose on merit? :-)

      1. Weeraz says:

        Haha reverse all the clockwise circuits and Massa wins the championship for sure ;P

      2. DB says:

        By that logic, he should definitely go race on ovals. :-)

      3. CarlH says:

        “Perhaps Alonso wants to be taken out so he doesn’t lose on merit?”

        Whether a joke or not, that’s the silliest thing I’ve read on this website.

        Congratulations.

    2. Simmo says:

      ‘Shows who can’t handle pressure’. I am assuming you mean bad tyre pressure on the cold tyre. Vettel always cracks under pressure – much more that Fernando.

      Also, on a different note – I thought Hamilton and Alonso didn’t get on well at all, and Hamilton would rather see Vettel win. Or is that old stories, I don’t know.

      1. Brad says:

        When exactly did Vettel crack under pressure???

      2. notme says:

        Canada 2011?

      3. Fernando Goncalves says:

        Hmmm, Montreal?

      4. Andrew says:

        It’s more accurate to say that he makes a lot of mistakes when he’s not leading.

      5. Hansb says:

        Vettel handles pressure really well indeed. Having the fastest car around, leading the WDC comfortably with two races to go you may ask which driver (SB or FA) has most pressure to perform.
        Yet last race (Abu Dhabi) Vettel ‘only’ made 4 (!) very stupid mistakes that were entirely his own faults.

        Qualifying against the wall in Q1, passing a car with four wheels outside the track, collecting a DRS sign board / almost the back of Ricciardo, damaging his front wing with a stupid overtaking on Senna.

      6. Brad says:

        Our friend Simmo made the statement that Vettel ALWAYS crack under pressure, and u guys give me 2 questionable race incidents within 2 years? How about mistakes that Alonso alone in qualifying this year, the mistake he made under pressure having closed to .7 sec to Kimi last race, then this qualifying performance???

      7. Raymond YZJ says:

        IMO, Hamilton wants Alonso to win this.

        Hamilton can point to 2007 to show that yes, he can match Alonso over a season. It somewhat stands to reason, therefore – that he can say – whatever Alonso can do, I can match. In other words, he can equal Alonso’s achievements in the 2012 Ferrari.

        If Alonso wins the 2012 title, then that means Hamilton, by extension, could too. If Alonso gets beat by Vettel – then by extension, Hamilton probably would too.

        Just my 2 pence.

      8. Jim Dee says:

        A shame that critiquers of Vets work will always have the Newey trump card though.

      9. Quattro_T says:

        I follow your reasoning and partly agree regarding on how HAM might be thinking.

        The catch (for HAM) though is the simple fact that ALO started outscored HAM as soon as he jumped back into a semi-competitive package, following their year in 2007. ALO has outscored HAM consistently since then – 2010, 2011 & 2012 – quite comfortably. During these seasons ALO has had packages ranging from almost-as- competitive (2010) to much-slower (2011-2012) compaired to the one HAM have had – never faster, at least when looking at the performance on Saturdays. This implies that 2007 results might not be so telling (for many different reasons) regarding the relative strength of the two drivers, as HAM wants it to be.

        So, logical inference gives at hand, that HAM would in reality not be able of replicating what ALO has done, at least given historical data.

        I think most people on (and off) the grid want ALO to win, simple because he has been >>> any other driver and package this year.

    3. Frankie says:

      Alonso’s car had different parts to Felipe’s, but I would agree that he could have produced a better lap when it mattered.

      With such a dirty offline there will of course will be some coming together.. remember India 2011?

    4. EsseDBee says:

      At end of FP3, saw Lewis do his practice launch from the dirty side, so here’s hoping McLaren have collected enough data to make it a good start for him tomorrow.

      Personally, am more interested in the position of the sun and difference in temperature in the shade cast on the clean side of the grid. The weather is forecast to be hotter, but I’ve noticed that when the sun breaks through it warms the entire width of the track, but by Qualifying the ‘clean’ side of the grid was in shade; and, over here, it’s cold in the shade.

      On another note: the view from the straight makes the first corner look like the start of a thrilling roller coaster. Will those starting further down the grid gain an advantage being able to build up speed over a longer period of time achieving greater momentum and thereby a quicker run up to and through the first corner compared to those who have qualified at the front? Is this be the opportunity Alonso and Ferrari are hoping to exploit? Did anyone test or analyse the start times from, for example, the pit exit on an out lap relative to the that achieved from the timed lap (the start/finish is position at the rear of the grid). Or will the downhill momentum balance any perceived advantage and allow Vettel to get clean away?

      Anyhow, incredible circuit and have been told that they’re expecting 300,000 for the race? Really! Wow!

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        To be honest it’s not just about data to make a good start. The surface itself is less grippy on the even side.

    5. KRB says:

      You don’t trust Hamilton? Why would Hamilton want to take Vettel out? He even stated as much in the post-quali interviews that he wouldn’t want to effect Vettel’s race, but that he wants to beat him. Hamilton’s long-run’s were very good from Friday, so I’m sure he thinks he might have a shot at victory.

      I don’t think Vettel has to worry; that 2nd slot I think will be crap. It’s just had no rubber laid down on it. Plus also Button said earlier that he thought second would be better than pole. Whenever Button’s opened his mouth this year (“Fernando’s not the threat” post-Malaysia; “No one will go on a run and win four on the trot” post-Monza; etc.) he’s pretty much been proven wrong shortly after.

      What Button said was that P2 at least gets some flat level tarmac before the hill starts, whereas P1 is right into the hill. If he’s right about that, then there’d be a huge concertina effect at the start, as the cars behind catch up those at the front. If that’s the case, then it would surely lead to calamity.

    6. Alberto says:

      Alonso has heavy fuel load setup for his car. He will do much better than Massa in the race.

    7. F1fan4life says:

      You should be thanking Alonso Rob Newman, without him you’d have no contributions to this site. All you do is try and bash him. Guess what though, the only reason why your tripping over your knickers is because you know if the season ended now Vettel would be champion but the majority of the public and the paddock would say Alonso is the better driver. It must be painful to waste your breathe belabouring moot inept points for nothing, but you excel at that. Hilarious!

  3. kp says:

    I do hope you will do a piece on this H.A.M issue.

    It seems the meaning is not as one would quite imagine. And I would like to know what is behind it all.

    1. MrExasperated says:

      Huh?

    2. Thomas, Canada says:

      Fair to assume he is referring to KanYe & Jay-Z and not the his surname…..

      It’s this sort of stuff that has really turned me off Hamilton.

    3. efi says:

      Hamilton is behind it but shhhh dont tell anyone.

    4. Mitchel says:

      Please, please, please…

      This is not the Daily Mail!

      Anyone interested can look up their ‘article’ online- a piece of poor journalism, which mistakes ‘words’ for ‘letters’.

      Vastly amusing though!

    5. Wade Parmino says:

      I’m as confused as MrExasperated on this one. What’s all this about???

    6. Jim Dee says:

      Google “daily mail h.a.m” and found that West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has admitted that he is interested in signing Nicolas Anelka in January.

      Next post

  4. AlexD says:

    Red Bull has the best car, Pilerri went ultra conservative, Vettel is driving at his peak. Season is over…

    1. Thomas, Canada says:

      +1

      Tomorrow has the potential of being very dull (just what we need on the return Stateside). Why on earth didn’t Pirelli bring some super softs and try and spice it up a bit?

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        Because they had no way of knowing what the surface was going to be like. They had to lock in their decision before the final surface at COTA was down.

        What if it turned out to be extremely abrasive? Would you risk having a 5-stop race on your hands, and being slammed for that?

      2. Kevin says:

        Would have hard and medium been a better compromise?

      3. Andrew says:

        Instead of have 3 sets of 2 compounds they should have 2 sets of 3 compounds. It would add more variety, which surely in the light of the recent Newey processions most would agree would be a good thing.

      4. Raymond YZJ says:

        It might sound like it – but I don’t think that will do anything. It will just create a different kind of procession.

      5. Raymond YZJ says:

        Kevin – It would be the lesser of 2 evils. They were going to get stick whatever they chose, unless they got the one perfect combination (out of the 12 they could choose)

      6. Mitchel says:

        What exactly would be wrong with a 5-stopper?

        Sounds awesome to me!

        I say just have the one soft and hard compound all year round, make them marginal, then get on with racing…..it’s the same for all the teams, so why not?!

      7. Wade Parmino says:

        Maybe not super-softs but definitely some softs. The hards and the softs are the compounds that should have been allocated. Having the mediums and hards is way too conservative.

    2. Chromatic says:

      Not so fast…. I’ll be very surprised if the race finishes same as it starts. I expect to see Alonso on the podium with Seb and Kimi.

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        Wow. Where did Webber and Hamilton go?

      2. KRB says:

        Collected at Turn 1? Ham retires, Webber KERS issue? The possibilities are endless.

      3. Jake says:

        They got bored listening to Seb yap on during the podium interview and escaped to the hospitality suit. ;-)

      4. k5enny says:

        And Schumi ??

      5. James Clayton says:

        Well there’s only space for 3 on the podium. Technical failures for Hamilton and Webber maybe? Who knows?

      6. Simmo says:

        Webber will get a rubbish start, Hamilton will have a gearbox issue.

  5. Regis says:

    Frankly dissapointed with Alonso today (and I support Alonso!). His best lap on Q3 was 0,2s slower than his best lap on Q2 and he did not manage to qualify ahead of his teammate. Quite the opposite, his teammate was 0,4s ahead of him on Q3.

    Had Alonso managed to stop the clock at the habitual 0,3-0,5s ahead of Massa, he would have ended on P4 today.

    Has Alonso lost the grip? Is Massa a better driver to hard tyres? Or is there something behind the scenes that I cannot see?

    1. Sebee says:

      Perhaps Ferrari are cutting the perks to Alonso. They feel he had all the support and are tired if hearing how it’s all car. More equal treatment from now on. Perhaps they also want to measure Alonso’s true ability. Massa is like their insurance policy.

      1. Jeroen says:

        I would reduce the dice of whatever medicine is clouding you judgement. Made me laugh though :-)

      2. bearforce1 says:

        Exactly. I really do wonder where Vettel would be in the Ferrari.

      3. Dave C says:

        Vettel would beat Alonso in that Ferrari, likewise Vettel would beat Hamilton in the Mclaren, just face it this new kid in town is the best driver in Formula 1

      4. Rob Newman says:

        On pole on Saturdays and on top of the podium on Sundays.

      5. Oly says:

        Sometimes I wonder how is possible that admins allow such uninteligent comments. This all has an impact on how serious this blog is, or want to be.

      6. [MISTER] says:

        +1
        I don’t really understand either why such comments are allowed.

      7. Quattro_T says:

        Agree, and this one is quite far from the worst I have seen. My guess is that ALO is not one of the fav drivers of whoever moderates.

      8. Sebee says:

        I am putting a point out for discussion.

        You don’t feel recent Massa form thanks to the obvious support and attention he is getting is something worth discussing? I find it interesting that Massa, beside being moved aside this past weekend is suddenly a matching and bettering Alonso. Sudden magic?

        It’s very interesting to me how Alonso walking all over Massa (who’s forced into submission) makes everyone believe Alonso is some mystical power, while when Massa obviously is able to outperform Alonso thanks to being treated on more equal hardware terms is dismissed by those same FA fans.

        I put it to you that equal support, equal equipment Massa would give Alonso a run for his money. I even dare say some FA fans would not like the outcome.

      9. Wade Parmino says:

        At this point in the season?! With the way the points are?! NO WAY.

      10. Sebee says:

        Wade,

        I think that if Alonso doesn’t win this WDC, we’re going to see much more even handed treatement of Alonso and Massa hence forth, and hopefully a different dynamic at Ferrari in 2013. I think 3 years of support of Alonso with no WDC means Massa deserves his reward of equal treatment. I hope he gets it next year.

    2. Raymond YZJ says:

      Felipe is a fantastic braker – and hard braking is one way of getting temps into the tyres. IMO Felipe’s hard braking style worked well today with getting heat into the tyres.

  6. Phill says:

    As a big Ferrari fan I would rather it ended this weekend, hold another week of misery for us all.
    Ferrari really have not helped Alonso this season, but today, well, I don’t know what happened.
    No penalty for Webber or Schumacher, the FIA would not want to look like they are helping Ferrari in this time of the season, so have to play nice to those infront of him. Not surprising, Bernie’s favourite child will win, it’s a definite.

    1. MrExasperated says:

      Its insulting how fast the Red Bull is. At some points it was almost a second faster.

      Hamilton had to do an edge of reason lap to even get close.

      Compare the onboard of Vettel and Hamilton, Vettel may as well be sat at home doing this on a playstation, hardly a correction on the corners at all.

      Is there an analysis anywhere of how much more RB is spending than the rest to be so far ahead?

      With the confidence the RB car gives in the corners, you could give this car to any of the top ten drivers to achieve the same. And for those of you who ask why Webber isnt closer to Vettel in the same car, all it takes is a different tyre pressure to hobble Webbers car a little to keep him from disturbing Vettel too much.

      1. Dmitry says:

        Red Bull aren’t spending more, they are actually spending less than Merc, Ferrari and McLaren, who in addition can fudge the figures a bit thanks to being car manufacturers. Red Bull simply have the best team in contrast to what Alonso keeps claiming…

      2. Phill says:

        Actually the commentators mentioned today that Red Bull do seem to be spending more than everyone else, but find loop holes to get away with it.

      3. KRB says:

        Spending less, yeah right. That’s why they’re the only ones that don’t want anything to do with a cap.

      4. Wade Parmino says:

        How do you know this?

      5. [MISTER] says:

        And you know this because…?
        You surely must’ve seen the amounts these 4 teams are spending to make such a statement, right?

        On a more serious note, you did make me laugh :)

      6. Raymond YZJ says:

        So why didn’t they immediately do that tyre pressure trick at the start of the year? Why did they wait until after the summer break?

      7. KRB says:

        Agree with you re: Vettel v. Hamilton’s laps. Hamilton’s was near-perfection, while Vettel had mini lock-up’s two times, and didn’t save any KERS for the turn 20 exit run to the line. A near-perfect lap in that RB8 should’ve beaten Hamilton by half a second.

        Hamilton for me is the best qualifier of 2012, no question.

      8. SID says:

        His car is not as slow as it’s being painted in the media. It’s on par with the bulls. Just to remind u, Ham was fastest in S1 and S2 even after those mistakes!

        Vettel made teh difference in S3.

      9. Alex says:

        Lol Vettel on his Playstation pumping in fast laps.

        With the rules remaining unchanged for next year, seems like it will be more of the same for Vettel until his possible Ferrari move.

        Quadruple world champion anyone?

      10. Kay says:

        I’m turning my TV off.

      11. Quattro_T says:

        “No penalty for Webber or Schumacher, the FIA would not want to look like they are helping Ferrari in this time of the season, so have to play nice to those infront of him. Not surprising, Bernie’s favourite child will win, it’s a definite.”

        Stewarts did not penalize VET in Monza qualy, when he in so apparent way tried to delay ALO on his last lap in Q3 – I was not surprized yesterday.

      12. KRB says:

        In Suzuka, y’mean.

    2. Don says:

      Ya I gotta agree…. as a Ferrari fan it’s soul-destroying to see Alonso’s chances slipping away once again.

      Alonso must be very frustrated by yet another year when Ferrari’s performance fizzles out just when they need to be on top of their game.

      I wonder will it be Vettel to Ferrari and Alonso to Red Bull in 2014???

      1. Robert Gunning says:

        If Alonso does not win this championship, he must surely be looking at the terms of his contract. Vettel to Ferrari and Alonso to Red Bull in 2014, my thoughts exactly.

      2. Colin says:

        Was thinking Alonso to Red Bull and Webber to Ferrari. Why would Seb want to move?

      3. k5enny says:

        – And then he would have to watch Vettel clock up championship after championship in a ferrari – while he works on convincing the media that the red bull is such a dog of a car…

      4. Pyoramutteri says:

        Ferrari should look at the terms. How long will Ferrari listen to the negative PR they are getting out of this. The whole season Ferrari has been a bad car with no chance without their great driver? Alonso the only man on earth that can drive a Ferrari to victory? Ferrari is surely not a bad car. It would be time for Alonso to start the season in a team with two equal drivers. Alonso has now been the only No 1 driver on grid( at the start of the season) in tree years and the result seems to become zero in both championships. RBR would never accept a No1 driver contract. I like Ferrari and it’s a shame that they are destroying themselves and their glory.

      5. James Clayton says:

        And if Red Bull aren’t the dominant force in 2014? You seriously think Red Bull will be at the top *forever*?

      6. KRB says:

        Why would Vettel leave Red Bull?!? Until the new regulations come into place, and IF it’s apparent then that Red Bull are off the pace and will remain off the pace, then Vettel would be stupid to leave Red Bull.

  7. Rich C says:

    Yep, poor ol’ Masa can’t drive anymore, is a goner, done for, washed up, fini.

  8. Val from montreal says:

    Check mate ! All the Vettel bashing Alonso has been doing these last 2 months is finally getting back at him ! What a disastruous qualifying from the spaniard today in Austin ..: starting in 8th behind his teamate , also what was he complaining about again about Schumacher during q2 ??Anyways I have been saying it all along , since mid-season that somehow , someway , Alonso will let this championship slip away , and I was right … Been saying it also since the end of 06 , Alonso’s hype was born out of a engine blow-up …. My wish for tomorrow is for Schumacher to pull a ” Petrov” on Alonso … Now that would be hilarious …. Go Michael !! Go Vettel , the sports 3rd driver to win 3 wdc’s in a row !! ( fangio , Schumacher and Vet )

    1. bearforce1 says:

      People say Vettel is lucky. I say Alonso has been lucky this year and now his luck has run out. Alonso only looked good due to DNFs of the other top drivers.

      1. [MISTER] says:

        LOL.
        Yeah, Alonso was running in 7-8 and when one of the top 3 had a DNF, he was TELEPORTED in their place.

        Seriously, James, everybody can do some bashing up, but why you allow it? Surely you don’t want your website to became full of these ridiculous comments..

      2. James Allen says:

        This post you refer to is a point of view about Alonso being lucky. Just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean it should be banned.

        Comments which are modded out are ones that add no point to the debate and just trash a driver for the sake of it.

      3. KRB says:

        It’s never good to ban anyone for giving an opinion. Well-reasoned opinions will win out over foolish ones, over time. Fools, given a voice, will soon betray that foolishness, and that’s better for everyone concerned.

    2. Hansb says:

      It is really sad to read a comment like this.

      A true F1 fan would like to see all drivers racing with exciting overtaking/defending in a way that this race will NOT be decisive for the WDC. Finally, after another exciting race in Brazil, he wants to see his favorite driver (or the one he thinks deserves most) see clinch the tittle.

  9. Irish con says:

    I think vettel is a brilliant driver but u only have to watch his onboard and compare it with fernando’s onboard to see the difference in the 2 cars. It is night and day. Also I think the tyre choice helps red bull as they can get tyre temperature easier. Fernando has been rally driving today the amount of steering inputs he has to put in. No doubt he should be beating massa in qualifying though. I still think there is a twist in the tail tomara as there always is this time of the year. What it is no one knows. A complete freak rain shower ?

    1. KRB says:

      It is. The RB8 is smooth and controlled. Near full-throttle thru the S’s. Meanwhile Fernando’s Ferrari looked ragged, lots of opposite-lock steering, etc.

      I’m surprised that the RB8 can get temperature quickly. Their camber settings don’t look far different from others.

      A rain shower in Texas? More chance of a tornado, methinks. That would really spice up the racing (Radio: “Funnel cloud at turns 8, 12, and 13. Be careful.”

      The forecast I checked had POP for Austin at 10% for 2-4pm.

    2. Rob Newman says:

      If he can’t setup the car to his liking, who’s to blame? It is always the other person isn’t it?

      1. KRB says:

        Yeah, that’s gotta be it, eh Rob? It’s a silly conclusion to make.

        I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we could achieve World Peace in the space of a half-hour?

  10. tank says:

    been following the the JAF1 twitter feed. Its a little shameful how many of the journos were hoping for Webber and Schumacher penalties to push Alonso up the grid.

    1. Gate 21 says:

      I wonder if Ferrari will inflict a gearbox penalty on Massa to get Alonso one spot higher and onto the clean side of the grid?

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        Lol!!

        Maybe Red Bull will retaliate with a gearbox change for Webber, to counter that then. Pretty soon Alonso will be on pole position! Lol.

      2. KRB says:

        Why? Massa will be a rear-gunner for Alonso tomorrow, he will let him thru first chance he gets. Either that, or he will sacrifice his race to hound those in front, no longer driving to a delta, though how useful that will be (with practically no deg on these tires) who knows.

      3. OldIron says:

        I had to laugh when I saw this idea (its quite neat; if the even side is really so bad, it might not even be a disadvantage for Massa).

        Then I saw on autosport that Ferrari are worried about Massa’s gearbox. What a remarkable coincidence!

  11. adam says:

    sour grapes once again for those defending the slower ferrari driver!! It shows when the championships comes to the critical point he cannot cope with the pressure!

  12. Mike from Colombia says:

    Amazing qualifying effort by Hamilton.

    McLaren will not have these types of performances in 2013. Dennis and Whitmarsh must also have started to worry over Perez.

    1. KRB says:

      Okay is anyone else scratching their heads as to how Perez escaped w/o grid penalty for his collision with Pic in FP3? The best that can be said about it is that he thought Pic was getting out of the way to let him thru, but it was just an unnecessary move, and once Perez saw Pic closing the corner, he should’ve instantly been on the brakes. I can only think that circa 2011 Hamilton would’ve garnered a penalty for a move like that.

      Surprised to see Ricciardo out in Q1. Obviously hurt by the yellow flags at the end, but a bad session for him. Hulkenberg did well, and so did Schumacher.

  13. KGBVD says:

    Alonso starting in the environs of Grosjean and Maldonado tomorrow. Alarm bells are ringing.

  14. derek says:

    Alonso choked. As simple as that.

    1. F12012 says:

      Exactly what i was thinking too

    2. CarlH says:

      Apparently the car was set-up heavily towards the race.

      You might want to wait until after the race to submit comments like that… he might just make you eat your words.

  15. Smellyden says:

    James,

    Where is Maurissa finding this time from, is the help of Pat Symonds?

  16. rich gibbs says:

    I can easily see Alonso getting fifth. he will swallow Hulk, be gifted another position by Massa, and Shumi will have tire problems with the Merc.
    Seb will take first or second bar a mechanical failure (Hami has a chance with his superior top speed)…
    sooo tight, but what a time to choke!!!

    1. KRB says:

      McLaren are only 6 kph quicker in the speed trap than the Red Bull. Obviously if he can get within DRS range, that would be around 20 kph quicker. The only thing is that Vettel gets two turns through 17 & 18 before DRS is even activated.

      I expect that Hamilton will have a bad start, and that he could go back 2-3 spots at the start, and could be behind Schumacher at the start of the race. I don’t think anyone will have tire problems tomorrow, though who knows.

  17. Seán Craddock says:

    “Red Bull need just four points to take their third consecutive Constructor’s title tomorrow and with both cars in the top three it would take a pile up or a reliability disaster to stop the Milton Keynes based squad from doing so.”

    Even if both cars failed to finish Ferrari would still have to get a 1-2!!!! It’s not as simple as if they don’t finish the championship will go to Brazil!

    1. Raymond YZJ says:

      Actually a 1-3 would be enough for Ferrari to keep the WCC fight alive.

  18. Senninha says:

    Very surprising qualifying again, where it seems abt. tyres again. If you read between the lines of some driver statements ` there is just too much spread in tyre performance.
    Assume if the quality spread would be 2 % only ( which is small), a time gap of over 2 sec would be easily the result …..

    Schuey 1,4 sec in front of Rosberg is not only due to a Coanda exhaust ! Both Lotus, and one MGP and FI in front of Scuderia ??? Something must be wrong here, the FP times were telling different story.

    Well that FIA reprimand for Webber failing to apply the weight check correctly is another bad joke. Same for Schuey impeding Alonso. Games are being played and the FIA should act with consequence. But they are just pi.. in their pants as usual again as the ed has the levers in his hand only.

    Reliability is one thing he ll not have in his hand. And driver` state of mind ….

    1. trullifan says:

      Alonso was on a warm-up lap like Schumi. Again he tried his tantrums but this time the FIA didn’t get fooled.

      1. KRB says:

        If you read the stewards’ report, both drivers said that they were on preparation laps of multi-lap runs, and not on flying laps. So I don’t think you can accuse Alonso of trying to torque the situation to his advantage.

      2. Senninha says:

        Sure, but regs are clear abt. driving stds and the FIA should be strict abt it to show authority. Besides that Schuey is a 7X WDC, he knows exactly what he is doing.

        As he knew in Hungary and Abu Dhabi 2010…. But he forgot what the Scuderia has done for him and seems still pissed he got replaced by the Iceman.

        Expect some TNT action on the dusty new track and hope it will not affect WDC too much ….

  19. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

    Slightly irritated by Pirelli at this point in the season.

    Although earlier in the season people were saying the tyre issue was causing “artificial racing”, the tyre deg variable added a degree of risk/reward to the sport that perhaps has replaced the reliability issues and danger that have mostly been eradicated these days (in the latter case, for the better – although I wish something could be done about these huge run-off areas …).

    So, the tyre deg contributed to those “Seven Winners In Seven Races!” headlines that we all lapped up thinking this was going to be a classic season. And it was – right up until Red Bull started to get their act together just as Pirelli decided to get conservative with their tyre choice and seem to have effectively handed the championship over.

    I’d be interested to learn how far in advance Pirelli have to to announce their tyre choice and how much leeway there is for them to change it after announced.

    1. Julian says:

      This season is very reminiscent of 2003 where we had lots of different winners (8) and a tight championship until towards the end when Ferrari got their own way when Michelin had to change their tyres due to their excessively large treads… Schumi romped away to 6 wins with nearest challenger Kimi with 1 win.

  20. Frank says:

    Massa was quicker in Bahrain and Monaco in the race. He complained about a slow Fernando in front of him, but wasn’t allowed to overtake due to Barcelona/Hockenheim 2010.

    You all ignore that, and now you come out and “wonder” what happens to Alonso in Austin…

    Massa was quicker in Silverstone. He had the fastest lap times in the last 15 laps. He was quicker than Fernando AND Webber, although he was stopped by a slow Schumi in the first stint.

    Same in Korea or Abu Dhabi in Q3…

    Alonso was 0,7seconds behind Kimi in Abu Dhabi.
    He made a mistake in lap 54 under the exit of the hotel, so that costs him the DRS detection.

    Of course, nobody notice that…

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Don’t make us laugh, i don’t remeber about Bahrein but at Monaco Fernando was preserving tyres to overtake Lewis after pitting and in Korea Felipe had updates Fernando didn’t.

    2. F1fan4life says:

      Frank I get that you are daft but let me explain one thing… massa is simply not as good as Alonso. If he was, he’d be the team leader at Ferrari. If he was, he’d have contracts to lead other teams. He isn’t and it’s not because he was sold to slavery in Ferrari. He is a free man. Do we have to listen to you coo and caw over your pointless facts given the obvious? Don’t accuse us of being ignorant just because you are too slow to follow.

  21. Tim says:

    Massa bests his teammate. Biggest surprise of the day. A fissure in the Alonso psyche?
    Great job by Lotus. What at one point seemed an exciting championship battle just may have F1zzled out.

    Tim

    1. Sid says:

      so a guy is 16-2 in quali and you’re trying to make headlines out of it, where were u for the other 16 races!

      1. Quattro_T says:

        He was depressed.. watching ALO consistently outscoring his fav driver, with a truck…

      2. Tim says:

        1. Your hyperbole over a comment not a headline weakens your point rather than strengthening it.
        2. For the past 16 races I’ve been enjoying the F1 season rather than fawning over a race driver. How ’bout you?

        Tim

  22. Frank says:

    Massa was quicker in Bahrain and Monaco in the race. He complained about a slow Fernando in front of him, but wasn’t allowed to overtake due to Barcelona/Hockenheim 2010.

    You all ignore that, and now you come out and “wonder” what happens to Alonso in Austin…

    Massa was quicker in Silverstone. He had the fastest lap times in the last 15 laps. He was quicker than Fernando AND (!) Webber, although he was stopped by a slow Schumi in the first stint.

    Same in the Korea race or Abu Dhabi in Q3…

    Alonso was 0,7seconds behind Kimi in Abu Dhabi.
    He made a mistake in lap 54 after the exit of the hotel, so that costs him the DRS speed.

    Of course, nobody notice that…

    James Allen Massa was quicker in Bahrain and Monaco in the race. He complained about a slow Fernando in front of him, but wasn’t allowed to overtake due to Barcelona/Hockenheim 2010.

    You all ignore that, and now you come out and “wonder” what happens to Alonso in Austin…

    Massa was quicker in Silverstone. He had the fastest lap times in the last 15 laps. He was quicker than Fernando AND (!) Webber, although he was stopped by a slow Schumi in the first stint.

    Same in the Korea race or Abu Dhabi in Q3…

    Alonso was 0,7seconds behind Kimi in Abu Dhabi.
    He made a mistake in lap 54 after the exit of the hotel, so that costs him the DRS speed.

    Of course, nobody notice that…

    1. MANish says:

      Now how many times are you going to post this??????

    2. Hansb says:

      You must have been waiting long for this qualifying order uhhh…? bringing the same story 3 times.

      Anyway about this qualifying: Both Ferrari cars were clearly struggling to generate enough heat in the tyres thus underperforming. Without knowing the exact reason (car adjustments?) why Alonso suffered a little more it is ridiculous to suggest latter made an driving error or is not as fast as Massa.

  23. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

    I’m sure this is a sad thing to ask about, but I wonder if anyone has any insight on the modifications that have been made to VET’s helmet since FP1.

    In FP1, watching the car cams it looked like the bottom “panel of wood” said “Gives You Wings” (not unreasonable – it’s the Red Bull tagline).

    In FP2, the top half of the panel containing those words had been covered over with black tape.

    In FP3 (and quali – and probably the race), the black tape had been painted to look like the woodgrain of the rest of the helmet – though you can still tell it’s a bit of tape.

    As Vettel’s helmet also says “Gives You Wings” along the back lower edge, which you can still see next to the HANS device after quali, I wonder why it was covered up …

    The only thing I can think of (I don’t have FP1 available to watch again) is that either it was in the wrong font (BORING!) or perhaps it might have said something like “Gives You F****** Wings” as a joke about the last podium’s colourful interviews – in fact, I sort of hope it did … :)

    1. Sid says:

      I read you’re not allowed to advertise on the onboard cameras, I’m not sure my wordings are right though.

    2. David Smith says:

      Here is all the info on it, never caught on about Hamiltons lid and the HAM logo!

      http://www.yallaf1.com/2012/11/18/hamilton-and-vettel-told-to-modify-their-helmet-liveries-in-austin/

      1. CarlH says:

        How are Red Bull not allowed to have “Gives You Wings” but they are allowed to advertise Pepe Jeans right next to it?

        Honestly, I think the guys who make & enforce these rules just have nothing better to do.

      2. Kay says:

        Fine with advertising not allowed, but for names… that’s stupid, I wouldn’t know what H.A.M. means if I didn’t dig up info on it.

        So what if for example some driver is named Katie Kylie Kurt and she has her initials printed on her helmet as KKK? Or less offensive one say Lawrance Oliver Landon making it LOL.

        O_O……… FIA making such a petite thing into a huge matter.

  24. Tony Hirst says:

    To try to understand qualifying a little better (and whether any one other than VET stands a chance tomorrow), I did a few quick data visualisation sketches around the results data from the session – http://f1datajunkie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/f1-2012-united-states-qualifying-summary.html
    I’m still trying to come up with a set of charts that help pull out some of the stories contained within the session, so comments (both positive and negative…) and potential commentaries around them would be much appreciated:-)

    1. Jim Dee says:

      Some drivers took several laps before their tyres became usable. Vettel and Hamilton seemed to get their tyres sorted much quicker. I think DC commented that Vettel seemed to have the Jacobs, the knowhow and the ability needed to prepare the tyres quickly.

      Not sure how you could represent this on a chart or what it would achieve. Maybe it would provide insight to how much time a driver might expect to loose during his out laps.

  25. Chromatic says:

    James, is Andretti stewarding at this event?
    Why did the stewards let Webbo off if he was clearly guilty of an infringement, and not Grosjean?

    1. It was in line with the punishment given to Vergne in Bahrain for the same offence

    2. KRB says:

      Fittipaldi is the drivers’ steward, though I the FOM feed had him out shaking hands in the pit lane as Q1 was starting!! Why wasn’t he already in the stewards’ offices?!?

  26. Sugar Water says:

    Wow, another powerful performance from Lewis. Sunday’s start should be a phenomenal gut wrenching drag race. With nothing to lose wonder how hard Lewis will take it SB? Think SB will back down if things get tight?

    Moreover as the sun sets on the McL – Lewis era, McL must have on real bad headache as the reality life without Lewis gains increased momentum. U gotta feel for McL…..

    Speaking of which u gotta have empathy for Fernado as he has pretty much exhausted himself on that wretch of a beast F call a race car. As the maker of a fine performance car for the elite among us bloks the brand has taken a licking. F can only thank their lucky horse shoes that Fernando has kept them in the lime light. Does anyone think heads will roll at F once this all settles?

    1. kers says:

      >Does anyone think heads will roll at F once this all settles?

      Yeah, Fernando might get fired for his poor qualifying performance this year.

      1. Sid says:

        I’ve been scratching my head but can’t get around the fact that looking at Hamilton’s lap in Q3, it’s evident he made 2 little mistakes that surely cost him time while Vettel put in a clean lap; so how did Hamilton manage to come within a tenth of Vettel’s lap.

        It means that either Mclaren is really quick but as always journalists paint a ‘RedBull is fastest’ picture just like Hamilton said “You guys are really quick” to Webber.

        Or it means Hamilton is a magician, well did we really doubt it. But so is Vettel therefore what I can conclude really is that it was all up to tyre temps and Mclaren had a hard time getting them in them in the right window. Since they used just one set in Q3 and did multiple laps, they got the tyres working and showed Mclaren is just as quick as RBR.

        Vettel did outqualify Webber by more than 0.5s so it means he did an astonishingly quick lap. And also worth noting is that Lewis’ Mclaren was fastest in S1 and S2 on his final run despite mistakes.

        James ur take?

      2. KRB says:

        What are you talking about?!? Vettel made the two mistakes, also didn’t save enough KERS for the Turn 20 exit, while Hamilton’s lap was near perfect!

        Both men even intimated as much in the post-quali interviews, Vettel saying: “In the last section I would have loved to go a little bit quicker. I think I lost a little bit in the first and the last sector. It was a little bit closer than I wanted with Lewis.”

        Meanwhile, Lewis said: “I came here this weekend to push almost beyond the limit – and that approach seemed to work in qualifying. I gave it everything. I did two consecutive quick-laps, and on my second lap, having put in a ‘banker’, I didn’t really have anything to lose, so I went almost over the limit, really on the edge, but the car still seemed to handle it well. On the final corner, I gained a little time on the entry but lost it on the exit. I got every corner perfect, I reckon, except for that last one.”

        Please go and watch their Q3 laps again, and see what you clearly missed the first time.

      3. TitanRacer says:

        Hami’s lap WAS magical. he and Seb are the best at it…

    2. bearforce1 says:

      I think this exactly highlights the value of the driver regardless of how good the car is. So if RBR and McLaren produce fast cars they can be nowhere unless they have the best drivers. This is to say that the driver plays a huge part in the overall performance and it is NOT just because they have a fast car.

      All this Vettel is only good because of his car is BS. Look at webber, button and Fernando and Massa it really depends on the driver and how far up the field the driver can put the car.

    3. Raymond YZJ says:

      I think the question is more – will Lewis be able to hold on to P2? Comments from the drivers who have tried the even side of the grid (P2-4-6-8 etc) is that they have less grip than a wet start.

  27. Vinola says:

    This is a fantastic track. From the turn 15 grandstand, I can see turns 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, not to mention 1, 2, 3 and 6!. Turn 13 is quite tricky as it sets up for 14 and leading up to 15. I saw Vettel miss the apices of 13 and 15 and still made pole. The RBR traction off those turns is clearly superior. Looking forward to the race tomorrow

    1. Colin says:

      Lived in Texas for 3 years and loved it. Wish I was still there to watch this event as I know you guys don’t pussy foot around when it comes to putting on an event. I feel this circuit has the potential to become legendary very quickly. Congrats

  28. Colin says:

    One of the best qualifying sessions of the year IMO.. Even though it was spoiled somewhat by following the slow red cars on tv for much of the time in Q3. Seb and Lewis in a class of their own today and I for one would like to see these two duke it out for victory tomorrow.
    Fantastic track and just loving the cars slide about. The grip levels should be like this all the time Pirelli. Separates men from boys!!

  29. Marcelo Leal says:

    When matter most Alonso is outpaced by Force India?
    That is the best driver for some critics?
    Ferrari has a car that is worst than Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Force India, Lotus?
    Just Nico from the teams above did not finish the quali in front of him.
    And Alonso is not ninth?

    1. Marcelo Leal says:

      Oh, I forgot, there is always something to help… Grosjean has a penalty. Just now there is the confirmantion on the f1 site.
      With the brand new circuit, I don’t know if that will be good or bad for him.

      1. Elie says:

        Gearbox penalty takes him from 4th to 9th. He starts on the clean side but maybe a little too far back.

    2. Dan says:

      Not his fault the car is rubbish and has been midfield most of the season. Vettel has been outqualified 7 times by an old journeyman yet now its the end of the world when Alonso is outqualified by Massa for the first time in 20 races?

      Pathetic. Even if he beat Massa it was not good enough.

      1. Raymond YZJ says:

        I’m not taking a stand in your debate here – but I certainly hold the 2012 Webber in much higher regard than the 2012 Massa.

      2. Dan says:

        Of course you do, considering Webber has been driving a car vasty superior to Massa. You would change your opinion if Massa has been driving an rb8 and webber an f2012.

      3. Ethan says:

        Alonso just picked a really bad time to be outqualified by Massa. Worthy champions aren’t supposed to crack under pressure. It shows his weak mentality. As opposed to him, VET has been put under huge pressure [mod] and yet he delivered. Prior to this weekend, I preferred ALO’s win to VET’s, but I’m starting to change my mind.

      4. KRB says:

        8 times. Agreed that Webber’s best days are behind him now. Father Time has caught up with him.

      5. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        I supose when you are a Vettel fan and see how he is critisized for the many mistakes he makes along a year you jump when Alonso makes one (and maybe his only) mistake of the season :D .

      6. Raymond YZJ says:

        It’s not about the car – I feel that, if you put the 2012 Massa and 2012 Webber in equal cars – Webber would take Massa. Of course nobody really knows. I could be wrong, but then again I could be right.

  30. Ahmed says:

    One thing that no one can deny is that Vettel rises to the challenge under Pressure! He always seems to pull out an awesome lap to clinch pole position when it matters! Something that Webber rarely can do, with his poor starts and qualifying performances.
    Alonso seems to be cracking under pressure, his quali performances in the last 2-3 races have been poor by WDC standards, and this has made the difference in the WDC. If Alonso qualified better he could have put some pressure and possibly changed the face of the championship battle.
    For all those that say its Newey and the Red Bull car, why has Webber not been able to produce a similar result? Webber’s best is 2nd in Korea.
    Alonso has produced an amazing result in this years championship, however Vettel has risen to the challenge under pressure and is producing results when it matters!

    1. Dan says:

      because webber is a 37 year old journeyman. Alonso’s qualifying all year has been consistent, the problem is the car not driver.

    2. Sid says:

      I’ve been scratching my head but can’t get around the fact that looking at Hamilton’s lap in Q3, it’s evident he made 2 little mistakes that surely cost him time while Vettel put in a clean lap; so how did Hamilton manage to come within a tenth of Vettel’s lap.

      It means that either Mclaren is really quick but as always journalists paint a ‘RedBull is fastest’ picture just like Hamilton said “You guys are really quick” to Webber.

      Or it means Hamilton is a magician, well did we really doubt it. But so is Vettel therefore what I can conclude really is that it was all up to tyre temps and Mclaren had a hard time getting them in them in the right window. Since they used just one set in Q3 and did multiple laps, they got the tyres working and showed Mclaren is just as quick as RBR.

      Vettel did outqualify Webber by more than 0.5s so it means he did an astonishingly quick lap. And also worth noting is that Lewis’ Mclaren was fastest in S1 and S2 on his final run despite mistakes.

      James ur take?

    3. James Clayton says:

      There’s not much pressure when you’ve let every practice session by quite some margin.

    4. Quattro_T says:

      No pressure with that car…just look at the onboard of him and compare to what kind of a car the others had…

      I saw him bang his car both here and there a couple of times in ABU when real pressure was on.

  31. Moe says:

    Alonso’s optimism of outscoring Vettel? Simple, he knows Hamilton would rather support Alonso over Vettel, therefore if close enough in the first lap, Hamilton will be super aggressive and will charge in making a mistake and taking out Vettel out of the race or forcing him to pit with damage.

    1. Colin says:

      Not sure Hamilton prefers Alonso over Seb. Remember they used to be team enemies of the highest order

    2. Quattro_T says:

      It is not optimism, rather reality. He knows he has been able to outscore VET over the course of the season, using that underperforming Ferrari, while VET have had his pole Machine – when ALO is behind the wheel, nothing is impossible :)

  32. BillyBob says:

    Here’s a straight comparison of Alonso and Massa for 2012. Read it and weep. Massa is not even in the same universe as Alonso as a driver, much less the same league. Data tells the true tale.

    http://grandprixrankings.com/compare/2012-f1/alonso-versus-massa/

    1. Brad says:

      Makes complete sense that Massa has been struggling with an understeery car suited to be optimized for your friend Alonso

  33. Athanasios says:

    Why don’t ferrari change massa’s gearbox so alonso can start on the clean side of the grid?

    1. Jenks says:

      You must be psychic! They’re thinking about it…..

  34. Honkhonk says:

    Amazing how Mark Webber can say at the end of qualifying so much slower than his teammate that he is pleased. Why would a driver be pleased to finish so far behind his teammate? They might need to change his nickname from Aussie Grit…remove the r.

    1. Raymond YZJ says:

      I think it’s a bit like Montoya in Hungary… I think it was 05. He knew he wasn’t going to beat Kimi, so he did his best to get P3 and get the clean side. Of course on that day Montoya didn’t get P3.

    2. Clay says:

      Maybe he’s please because he went slower than Hami on purpose so he could start on thec lean side??

    3. Kay says:

      I don’t like what you said for its offensiveness but hahahahhahahahaha :D

  35. James, you’ve probably been told a million times before but you journalists are so lucky that this is your line of work. And if crowd reaction is anything to go by we’ll be racing in Austin for a long time. http://www.atxbeat.com/Formula1USGP2012/kzDSC_0615.jpg

  36. F1addicted says:

    How much quicker would Hamilton be than Vettel, if he was in a Red Bull? 0.3+ ?

    Vettel is so lucky to be in this Newey car.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I don’t think you can say that. They would be very close

      1. Sid says:

        Very nice question and we’re lucky to hear from the man himself, James!

      2. KRB says:

        0.3 is a lot, but I think after today’s qualifying (and Abu Dhabi’s, and Singapore’s, etc.) that I can with sound basis state that Hamilton would be quicker than Vettel in that RB8.

        That is what F1 needs right now, those two going up against one another in a straight fight in the same car.

        As it stands currently, after such an exciting start to this season, it seems it’s petering out towards the same conclusion as last year, which is that all we’ll learn from this season is that Vettel is better than Webber.

      3. kp says:

        I don’t think you can say that either.

        Vettel is super smooth with delicate Newey machinery, Hamilton has been proven to be anything but.

        Statistics don’t always lie.

      4. Adelaide says:

        My gut feeling is that HAM would be a bit better. Thinking about it now – I would love to see that duel!

      5. Andrew says:

        It might be close in a Red Bull but in an average car I think Hamilton would be miles faster.

      6. F1addicted says:

        So the Red Bull only gives 0.1 on this circuit? As if.

      7. KRB says:

        Exactly. Hamilton out-drove his car in quali, especially Q3, while Vettel drove it to a decent time. Vettel was a full second ahead of Hamilton in Q2!

        Hamilton is the only driver to not miss Q3 this year. Vettel’s missed out three times this year. I recall Dr. Marko actually criticizing Vettel’s qualifying performances this year, during the Belgian GP (where he again missed Q3).

        Hamilton is w/o doubt F1′s speed demon.

      8. Anthony says:

        Yeah maybe not 0.3s, but we know that the RedBull is more than a tenth faster, for god sake it was 1.4s and 0.7s faster in practice!!! and Hamilton somehow managed to drag his McLaren to 0.1s off the RB. man the guy is fast…

    2. For sure says:

      No the question how often Lewis would mess up in that Red Bull.

  37. Mr Ed says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised is Ferrari have gotten desperate enough to put some unproven new parts on Alonso’s car just hoping that they will work and give him a chance. If this is the case it looks to have backfired badly so far.

    1. Amritraj says:

      That’s something that even Gary Anderson has pointed out in his analysis.

      The new diffuser on Alonso’s car seems to be excaerbating the air-flow reattachment issue.

      Alonso was consistently 4/10ths slower than Felipe in all quali sessions and there is no way Felipe is 4/10ths quicker than Alonso on any given day; its the other way around.

  38. beco says:

    I have to say that this US track looks amazing. Shame to see that the ferraris are so far back.In the interest of a “sport” who spend a lot of time and energy to improve the show and competitiveness, maybe mr newey could design th e ferrari and other teams s car next year….

  39. Gate 21 says:

    With the low tyre degradation and difficulty in heating the hard compound tyres, how many drivers are aiming to make their mandatory pit stop on the penultimate lap?

    Without carnage or mechanical failures, this could be the most static race we’ve seen in many years.

  40. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    I was impressed by Hamilton’s lap and by the latinos: Maldonado in a positive way (maybe he could assure his seat now) and Perez in a negative one whilst clashing with the Marussia.

    1. KRB says:

      Maldonado surely must have a seat. I think he’s bit of a nutter, but he is fast, there is no doubting that. If he can control his impulses, play the long-game in races, then he will do much better next year. Senna, on the other hand, I think is gone.

      1. TitanRacer says:

        yep. I only saw Maldo miss 1 single apex so far all weekend – and not by much!

  41. Pat Fry says:

    haha..karma..

  42. Joey says:

    brilliant quali by vettel..he really is super amazing in quali..him and lewis are the best..vettel’s quali in valencia was the best of this year arguably.quali seems to be alonso’s weakness..his race craft, ability to brainwash a friendly media and political skills are his strengths

  43. Alan says:

    Maasa 4/10′s faster than Alonso and faster than alonso in every session and every sector..cue the list of posts saying it was a strategic move all along..sigh..come on felipe

  44. Wade says:

    Domenicali shunted Kimi out to save his own job and brought in Alonso to cover up Ferrari’s shortcomings..has failed spectacularly..SD has nowhere to hide now..Alonso is more vocal than Kimi and misses no opportunity at every interview to point out how slow the Ferrari is (although I don’t believe all of it)..karma is an indian concept stefano but it applies to italians too

  45. Sid says:

    James if Hamilton was in RedBull this year, do you think Webber would have outqualified him 7 times? Would really love ur answer on this.

    1. KRB says:

      8 times (11-8 now), and the simple answer is no. Maybe last year, but Hamilton’s been “on it” this year. Too bad the team and the reliability of the car weren’t.

      I honestly think Webber has lost quite a bit of speed the last couple of years. He’s 36, so it is natural.

  46. xyler says:

    If this happens Vettel is WC because Alonso will not win the last race.

  47. Raymond YZJ says:

    IMO Vettel’s consistency this year has been somewhat underrated. Other than avoidable contact in Malaysia, alternator failures in Monza/Valencia, and 6th in Spain, he has never been outside the top 5 all year. Had his alternator held up on both times, and had he avoided contact in Malaysia – then he’d have finished all the races (bar Barcelona where he got the drivethrough) in the top 5.

    1. KRB says:

      Very true. I would argue that he was just driving the car to its natural finishing spot, but there are plenty of opportunities to screw up each race, and he for the most part hasn’t. The Red Bull has always been a very good race car … in the early part of the season their qualification pace was off at some races, but their race pace has always been very good. They’ve been in the top 2 in terms of race pace for the great majority of races this year. Even when Vettel was “struggling”, Red Bull were leading the WCC.

      While Vettel’s consistency has been impressive, Alonso’s is even moreso, b/c of the variance in their respective machinery. Both have fourteen top-5 finishes, and Alonso actually has two more podiums (11-9).

  48. Mitchel says:

    James,

    Are you commentating for Five Live Extra this weekend?

    Anyway, please let your people know that the link to the ‘iphone stream’ for Five Live Extra does not work- it directs to Five Live only.

    I couldn’t see an alternative route. I’m not sure if this applies to the ‘regular’ online link (non-iphone), because I didn’t think of that until after qualifying.

    Cheers!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes I am and thanks, I’ll tell them

  49. Aadil says:

    After 18 races If ferrari cant outqualify a force india a williams & 2 lotus then really maybe they dont deserve an y titles!

    Roll on the excuses for 2013!
    Let me guess they had 2 fix the windtunnel!

    They might aswell hand Vettel next years title while they @ it!

    Mclaren even when they have the fastest cars either cant put half a decent pitstop together or they cant get their cars 2 finish a race!

    Ferrari are having windtunnel issues for what seems like 2 yrs now! They bring upgrades like here @ COTA that takes them a step backwards!

    Is there any surprise Red Bull are really mopping the floor with Ferrari & Mclaren!

    What a joke!

    1. TitanRacer says:

      what you are forgetting is the newly announced change in DRS for practice and quali next year. that will likely have a profound effect on Newey’s aero and Red Bull’s race philosophy and set up.

  50. NickSilv08 says:

    Starting on the clean side of the grid is going to be a massive advantage according to the drivers. Massa said he did a practice start from the dirty side of the grid (odd numbers) and it was slower than a start in the wet… I fear Ham and Rai will get bad starts

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      Hamilton will probably still manage a better start than Webber. ;)

  51. Jake says:

    James,
    Could Alonso have set his car up for the race and sacrificed qualifying third/fourth for a faster race pace? This would be a gamble but based on the practise sessions he was never going to beat Seb in a straight shootout.
    Might just be a gamble worth trying.

    1. James Allen says:

      Looks like overtaking will be not so easy here. I’m sure he’s thinking more about the race, but still track position at the start is important and staring in row 4 leaves him open to risks like in Suzuka. If that happens today it’s all over

  52. Patrick Byrne says:

    Pat Fry was very smiley after qualifying. Have they something up their sleeve or has his relationship with Alonso soured that much?

    Alonsos been pretty quick all weekend and quicker than Massa. Either he genuinely underperformed/couldn’t manage the tyres OR has gone full-out for a race-set up (maximise DRS?)

    The only other possibility is that the upgrades are a step backwards. In which case things are even worse than they look.

    1. Quattro_T says:

      Massa is 1.3 seconds behind pole setter, over one lap. So yes, step backward I would say. Not very big step backward though, only somewhat bigger that usual Ferrari steps this season…

  53. JC says:

    James, Pirelli are saying they’ve been choosing the conservative tyres lately because they haven’t wanted to influence the championship too much. Do you think they’ve gone the full retard in harming Ferrari’s chances by not bringing out the softer tyres lately?

  54. Racyboy says:

    Hamilton will win this race and Alonso will win the championship.
    How’s that for denial?

    I just don’t want it over yet.

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      I reckon if Hamilton can somehow manage to take the lead on the first lap and not have any technical issues, he will win the race. Vettel would play it safe and stay in 2nd position. This factor is Hamilton’s advantage. His disadvantage is that he will start on the gripless side of the track.

    2. Racyboy says:

      Ok, so maybe it’s not denial…great drive from H.A.M.

    3. Puffing says:

      You’ve got it!

  55. Slaven Niksic says:

    On that ‘who is more worthy champion?’ question: Vettel’s noting that they had equal fare of bad luck is misplaced – his bad luck came down to reliability issues and this is a technical sport. On the other hand Red Bull have shown great form in the last part of the season… If you ask me, Alonso has shown more champion like drives – Massa beating him in Austin qualy was really one off… but hey, why should Massa be considered slow?

    1. Quattro_T says:

      “Vettel’s noting that they had equal fare of bad luck”

      That is expected isn’t it? What VET should not forget is that, despite all his poles and apparent package domination relative to the Ferrari, he would be way behind ALO in the standings today, had ALO not been taken out twice from behind by Lotus drivers. Someone is lucky, that is for sure.

    2. F12012 says:

      If you ever watch the season reviews of 07 and 08 Massa is like a completely different driver, pole positions, race wins the alot, think playing number 2 to Alonso has affected him, he’s only getting back to himself now

    3. Anthony says:

      because he is

  56. zx6dude says:

    oh no. not the one finger salute again!!! ;)

    Day dreaming here but it would be nice to see Schumacher finishing on a high!

  57. Trespasser says:

    Impressive stuff from Vettel and Hamilton but I was more impressed by the Marussia boys. Great result for them. I really would like to see some info on how they achieved this result. It looks like the 10th place it set in place for them.

    Sometimes I think there is too much focus on the big teams, and I’m a Mclaren fan. Pieces about the smaller teams would be good for everybody.

  58. Quattro_T says:

    I just do not get it. While other top teams become faster, Ferrari goes backwards and makes the package SLOWER. The fastest Ferrari is 1.3 SECONDS behind the RB over ONE LAP, just when ALO really need something to fight with. VET has a tank and they give ALO a Samurai sword to fight the tank with…Confused!
    Either they are thinking VET is really lousy driver…or that ALO is superman. What they do not get is that, even if ALO IS superman and I believe he is the F1 Superman, it would be against the regulations to win while airborn…

  59. Quattro_T says:

    So Pirelli, in their aspiration to be fair to everyone and not influence the title fight, they brought way too hard tyres to US. It is kind of ironic then, that due to this, half the field will be put at disadvantage at the start, and bring the risk for incidents up considerbly due to lack of grip on the dirty side. One of those put in the middle of this mess is the main title contender…Lottery has gotten a new meaning.

  60. SID says:

    James if Hamilton was in RedBull this year, do you think Webber would have outqualified him 7 times? Would really love ur answer on this.d

  61. cometeF1 says:

    Lets hope FA is fast in the race and takes the WDC fight to the last race. I like the Brazil GP very much so I will watch it regardless but I hope that it still has meaning. Marc

  62. Fireman says:

    Poor qualifying pace for Ferrari and especially Alonso. People say luck is not a factor in F1, but Grosjean’s penalty isn’t really helping either. Now both Ferrari drivers start from the dirty side of the track.

    It’s not a surprise that the rumors say that Ferrari might change Massa’s gearbox to promote Alonso to 7th place and the clean side of the track.

    Seems pretty unsportmanship like behavior, if it is to happen.

  63. derschorsch says:

    Hi James,

    I have heard the rumor that Massa is going to have a gear box change so that he gets moved back 5 places, to move Alonso up the field and put both Ferraris on the clean side. Can you confirm this?

  64. Jake says:

    Ferrari Conspiracy theory No 1001
    Light fuel Massa giving him a speed advantage over the Red Bull and send him out on a seek and destroy mission… ;-)

  65. Robert Gunning says:

    All I am hoping is that after Massa’s gearbox change, Alonso gets a good start from the clean side of the grid and is able to keep the championship alive until Sao Paulo; with a wet and finale (which is currently forecast).

  66. Robert Gunning says:

    All I am hoping is that after Massa’s gearbox change, Alonso gets a good start from the clean side of the grid and is able to keep the championship alive until Sao Paulo; with a wet and wild finale (which is currently forecast).

  67. ConspiracyMoi says:

    Autosport is reporting a possible gear box change for Massa, which would promote Alonso to 7th and the clean side of the grid. Conspiracy?

  68. Deborah Farrell says:

    I am a huge admirer of Alonso but I find it very convenient that the seal was broken on Massa’s gearbox, thus promoting Alonso to the clean side of the track. I was actually looking forward to seeing how Massa would drive in this race as his pace has been really good this weekend. Alonso has had an incredible season and I would be elated if he won the WDC but I think that it’s Vettel’s to lose.

  69. Chris says:

    Oh my word, Ferrari truly have no integrity at all! Massa should do himself and quit ASAP. Let some other sap be their whipping boy.

  70. Truth or Lies says:

    Even if Alonso some how manages to rob Vettel of the championship, he will be ever remembered as the unworthy champion of 2012, following the decision to deliberately move Massa back five places so Alonso starts on the clean side of the track. It’s a blatant and flagrant abuse of the rules by Ferrari and very unsporting. Alonso the man has neither class nor shame if this is the lengthhe will go to in order to win. This episode puts his McLaren season into perspective, what a petty, grubby little man.

  71. Matt W says:

    So gearbox-gate. Is this F1 I’m watching or the WWE. Absolutely ridiculous that Ferrari choose these kind of tactics. Honour of the brand, don’t make me laugh. Ferrari have gone from taking the glory of the chequered flag to winning behind the scenes in the stewards office. It might be within the rules but whilst things like this happen it cannot be considered a sport.

    F1 now turns to entertaining manipulation of the rules more than NASCAR.

  72. Quattro_T says:

    Give him a car 3 seconds per lap faster than ultar racers likr ALO & HAM. He will need it to become world champion.

  73. Quattro_T says:

    Newey, come on give me more downforce nwo, come on!

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