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Last Gasp Vettel Snatches Austin Pole
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  16 Nov 2013   |  10:15 pm GMT  |  162 comments

Sebastian Vettel required a stunning final sector to steal pole position for the American Grand Prix from Mark Webber’s grasp and give Red Bull a fifth front-row lock-out of 2013, ahead of Romain Grosjean.

It is the 44th pole of Vettel’s career and the 8th of 2013.

And number fourty-four proved to be more difficult that at first glance. After dominating Free Practice throughout the weekend the four-time World Champion had been expected to leave a clear gap between himself and his outgoing team mate.

However, Webber continued his fine form in the twilight of his F1 career and held provisional pole position for the majority of Q3. After topping the times following the first run in the top ten shoot-out, Webber found himself half a second up on his previous time as he entered the final third of the crucial lap.

By the end of the lap he could only shave 3/10ths off his previous time and from there he had to wait on the charging Vettel.

Vettel had a lap of opposing fortunes as he dropped time to his team-mate in the opening two sectors, before promptly putting together a stunning final third of the Circuit of Americas to claim the bragging rights at the Milton Keynes squad.

“It was a tricky session as the wind had picked up quite a bit since this morning; it does influence the behaviour of the car and it’s not that easy, especially in the corners,” said Vettel. “I wasn’t that happy with my first run in Q3, but I think I had a solid run at the end which was enough. It was very close with Mark, he seemed to get closer and closer as the weekend went on, so fortunately I was just able to stay ahead.”

The battle behind has been an interesting one since FP1 with a number of cars turning out similar performance – Grosjean was 8/10ths adrift of Vettel’s time today.

The Frenchman is Lotus’ main hope of challenging Mercedes and Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, and a strong showing today puts him in the best seat for a podium tomorrow.

His new team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen, maintained his impressive performance from practice to end the session in eighth place and in with a good chance for his first points since 2009.

Lotus head in to tomorrow in a much better position than their nearest rivals, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa bowing out in 15th and 16th places respectively.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso meanwhile cover the third row of the grid. Hamilton had looked to be Red Bull’s nearest contender prior to qualifying but his Mercedes team struggled with the balance of the car as wind swept across the track in the first sector. That six-turn snake had been their forte thus far but a 5.4m/s cross-wind meant they could not capitalise.

On the other hand Alonso, who ended Q1 in 15th place, will be satisfied to take sixth as he continues to trouble have with his back injury from Abu Dhabi.

The stars of the day were Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas. Hulkenberg is yet to complete a deal for 2014 but a brilliant fourth place today will do no harm to his quest. Force India are believed to be close to agreeing terms with the German.

Bottas proved that he enjoys North America as he built on his third place qualifying in Montreal to top Q1, take third in Q2, and will start from ninth place tomorrow.

The top ten, for not at least, is completed by Esteban Gutierrez, the Mexican illustrating Sauber’s strong performance at this stage of the season. However, he and Pastor Maldonado came very close in Q1 when a weaving Gutierrez did not see the quickly closing Williams.

The incident was investigated after qualifying, with a ten place grid penalty handed to the Mexican. Max Chilton was hit with and even more severe penalty; the Marussia driver was adjudged to have blocked two cars and so will serve a mandatory drive through penalty in the first five laps of tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

The conditions for qualifying were very strange, with gusty winds blowing from the side down the pit straight and as a tail wind in sector one. This unsettled a number of cars and meant that the first two parts of qualifying were not as fast as expected.

AMERICAN GRAND PRIX, Austin, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.338s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.441s +0.103s
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m37.155s +0.817s
4. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m37.296s +0.958s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m37.345s +1.007s
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.376s +1.038s
7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m37.452s +1.114s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m37.715s +1.377s
9. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m37.836s +1.498s
10. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m38.034s +1.696s
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m38.131s +1.066s
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m38.139s +1.074s
13. Jenson Button McLaren 1m38.217s +1.152s
14. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.364s +1.299s
15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.592s +1.527s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.696s +1.631s
17. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m39.250s +1.429s
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m39.351s +1.530s
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m40.491s +2.670s
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m40.528s +2.707s
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m40.596s +2.775s
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m41.401s +3.580s

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162 Comments
  1. Grant H says:

    Compared to p3 that was a strange qually, the final order did not reflect the true pace of cars on the grid – alot of cars out of position and could make for an interesting race. Also looked to me that most of the grid stuggled to switch on the tyres – the tyres did not work (other than RB). Have a feeling that the choice of hard and medium is too conservative (sounds odd saying that about pirelli). However we all know the current soft tyre is only a qualifying tyre, what they probably need is a revised medium compound somewhere between the existing soft and medium

  2. VV says:

    That Pastor Maldonado – he’s one classy guy! Who wouldn’t want a driver with that sort of attitude in their team?

    1. Tom in adelaide says:

      Time for him to be put out to “pastor”….

      Okay folks, i’ll get my coat.

      1. Kevin says:

        But some team isn’t going to look “Pastor” his
        wad of sponsorship dollars.

      2. Random 79 says:

        You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

        Both those puns are well pastor use by dates.

      3. Jock Ulah says:

        C’mon guys. . .
        Louis Pasteur is feeling alone and neglected . . .

        How about something with a ‘heat’ analogy?

      4. graham says:

        Yeah, but if you see him go down the straigh, he will still be pastor…ised.
        Ahem…sorry….just leaving with Tom

      5. Jim says:

        Im no fan of PM, but there are a lot of puffed up indignant (dare I say arrogant) outburts here about the lads lack of class. I don’t agree.
        In that interview it seemed as if he bit his tongue a lot about something he knew was going on.

        Even for the most outraged, does it not seem just A LITTLE suspect that he felt his tyres were cheese and lacking in grip compared to his teammate that has been nowhere near him this season?

        As the lad says, he’s been managing/reading his tyres for 20 years, 3years in Williams, and despite what people may feel about him as a driver he must surely have picked up a little insight over those years.

        And for anyone to claim that nothing like this would ever go on in an F1 team ( PSI or two underinflation) then you really must wake up to how F1 operates!

        He’s not my cup of tea, but as a fan of F1 he seems a real hard scrapper, a delighful change from some of the preening nancy boys whom currently inhabit F1. Their idea of hard racing nowadays is making a change of direction into a turn.

        Call me a dinosaur (im only 36) but F1 needs to ‘man up’ a bit and show us some hard, gritty racing, not coiffeured primadonnas mincing around to a delta time, saving tyres, complaining about the car in front ‘weaving’.

    2. K says:

      You think its a coincidence that he is a second slower than Bottas right after he announced he is moving on to another team? While until now Maldonado had the measure of Bottas most of the time?

      There was definitely something up with Maldonado’s car, the way it was handling (or not handling).

      1. zx6dude says:

        I can accept that there may have been something wrong with the the car but to say it was the team causing the car to go slow is going way too far. why on earth would they do that when they need to get as many championship points as possible??? even if they did – which they didn’t – you discuss stuff like that in private [mod]

      2. Torchwood Five says:

        Arguing that a team needs both drivers to get as many points as possible is certainly logical, but surely you cannot have noticed their either outgoing drivers performance apparently drops off, or that the driver who is staying’s performance magically improves. Lotus – Grosjean really doing well and consistently qualifying or finishing 3rd since team-mate signed for Ferarri, for instance.

        Not a great fan of Maldonado, especially since when he thought of calming down on track, he looked at his previous trophies, remembered he got them with his current way of driving, and decided to carry on barging people; however, I have seen enough not to dismiss his assertion out of hand.

      3. JCA says:

        Gary Anderson was saying that the gusting cross wind was making it like driving in wet/drying conditions. As we saw in Canada, Bottas is pretty good in those conditions, and in fact spanked Pastor there too.

      4. James says:

        11-7 Bottas in qualifying, 9-8 Maldonado in races.

        Hardly had the measure of him most the time has he..

      5. VV says:

        Do you honestly believe him? He’s leaving the team – he doesn’t care about upsetting or annoying people and doesn’t care about burning his bridges.

        Do you think that Williams also sabotaged Button’s car and Rosberg’s too?

        Some people found the conditions difficult and underperformed. To think there is some grand conspiracy afloat is ridiculous. There’s no evidence that anything happened. Even Maldonado couldn’t say exactly what it was – he suggested asking the team.

      6. Dan says:

        who cares if there is sabotage. He should cop it on the chin and take it like a man. The comments he is making are career destroying. Bottas is now their No1. Cop it sweet Moldynacho.

    3. zx6dude says:

      Yup real classy. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Pastor and don’t come back to F1. Let someone that is professional and talented have a place.
      Actually let the door hit you, I don’t mind. really.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Let’s be honest: It would be the first thing that’s made contact with Pastor over the years ;)

      2. Random 79 says:

        That’s supposed to be “wouldn’t be”…but you knew that already right? ;)

    4. Monza 71 says:

      Let’see :

      Bottas in a Williams fastest in Q1, 4th in Q2 and 9th on the grid.

      Maldonado also in a Williams, 18th and knocked out in Q1

      Does he seriously expect to get a drive on merit next year ?

    5. Grant H says:

      I heard he tried to blame the team for sabotaging his car…what a plank

      Hes nothing more than a pay driver, i mean seriously without the oil budget he’d have no chance competing with hulk for a drive at lotus

    6. Tealeaf says:

      So how comes no one is complaining “theres no way a driver could be 2sec a lap quicker”?!? I tell you why its called double standards, if Vettel was 2 sec faster there would be all sorts of ‘theories’, fact is Maldonado was wrong with that outburst but for whatever reason his tyres didn’t actually work thats not all his fault.

      1. Ronnie says:

        I am a little confused by people saying how great Botas is and how PM is only there because of the sponsor money. Looking at the 2013 season, PM beat Botas 10 out of 17 races. Understood that Botas is a rookie. But the results do not support that Botas is superior to PM. I wonder if PM were a Brit, and Botas a Japanese, the sentiment would be the same based on identical results.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        You’re right most of the british speaking media has double standards, also everyone seems to ‘hate’ Maldonado are due to the run ins he’s had with Hamilton in recent years which in my opinion is quite pathetic, personally I don’t particularly like or rate Pastor but the treatment he’s been getting is out of the ordinary its as if the Hamilton fans wants to punish him!
        But anyway its great to see Brundle getting all excited and ready for his speach about how good Webber was and was just about to make a speech about how Vettel was going to be out qualified again but then he saw Seb cross the line and went unusually quiet, almost speechless, that was priceless, in all honesty both RBR drivers did brilliantly along with Grosjean and Hulkenberg hope for a interesting race as fast cars will be coming through the field like Rosberg and Button hopefully.

      3. Daniel Spiller says:

        Actually the results at 11-7 iin qualifying imply that Bottas is a very quick driver albeit maybe without the racing nous yet. But he is a rookie after all. Grosjean showed huge speed in qualifying last year and this year had formed into a brilliant racer. Maldonado has proved through his three years with Williams that whilst occasionally very quick in qualifying, he lacks the consistency in races so I completely disagree with your comment as do I’m sure many others

      4. JayWest says:

        +1. Other drivers seem to enjoy everyone’s benefit of the doubt, but Maldo has become the easy villain. The guy can be undeniably quick – like him or not. And he has been stuck in a dog of a car all year.

      5. Datruthertz says:

        @Tealeaf

        You forgot to mention the English speaking media and their biased reporting!

      6. Tealeaf says:

        I can assure you that I did mention it, the way Brundle went silent and speechless after Vettel’s final lap has made the race weekend for me :P now for the race and Brundle’s garbage.

      7. Datruthertz says:

        You are right, you got that dig in on your second post – when I wrote mine, yours was still awaiting the moderators approval – I hope you appreciated my concern, I thought you had fixed your broken record ;-)

    7. bearforce says:

      I mean it is kinda nice to have a villain driver in the field but this just makes Maldonado look either, pretty weak or a little cray cray.

  3. SteveS says:

    It was an odd qualifying session.

    1) Everyone seemed a bit slower than expected. Last year Vettel took pole here with a time about six tenths faster than he manged this year, even though the track is supposedly less slippery now and the current tyres are softer. What’s going on there? Did the wind have that much impact?

    2) Williams supposedly removed the “improvements” they had previously made to their car, thereby allowing Bottas to go much faster!

    3) Mercedes looked like they had the best non-Red Bull car for the last few races, but they seem to have gone backwards. At least in qualifying.

    1. Random 79 says:

      1) Yes, my impression was that it was ambient conditions that were the biggest factor.

      2) Williams should have taken the Coanda bits off right around…oh, let’s say January ;)

      Kind of reminds me of a couple years back when Massa broke his front wing and then ended up going faster. WILLIAMS!!! REMEMBER FOR 2014: K.I.S.S. NO FANCY EXHAUSTS! NO COMPACT GEARBOX BITS! PLEASE JUST BUILD A BLOODY FAST CAR!
      Apologies for the shouting, but I mostly only use my powers for good :)

      3) Mercedes seem to be suffering from a late case of Mercedes syndrome.

      1. Fireman says:

        2) Proper coanda exhaust would give an advantage. That’s why they tried to stick with ‘em. Luckily for Williams, no such exhaust possible next year :)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Of course you’re right on both counts, but it’s just so frustrating because I really want to see Williams do consistently well again :)

    2. j says:

      You think wind and ambient temperature might impact lap times? Who woulda thunk it.

    3. James Clayton says:

      Brawn did say they were thinking of sacrificing quali pace to make it easier for their drivers to overtake in the races. Time will tell!

  4. Phil Glass says:

    Ferrari cannot endure this level of under-achievement without much internal strife.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Nor can they endure this much internal strife with this level of under-achievement ;)

    2. Harshad says:

      Exactly….they are just going backwards and backwards!
      Also, today’s performance by Massa surely has more than meets the eye.
      May be something to do with the strategy they put him on in Abu Dhabi….
      May be he is still upset with that! Of Course now he is on the grid for next season..so now has very less pressure to perform for Ferrari!

  5. yst_01 says:

    Fascinating Q3 between Webber and Vettel.

    Vettel struggled almost the whole weekend in sector 1 and 2, but was perfect in sector 3.

    Webber was quicker in s1 and s2.
    Vettel missed the breaking point and the apex twice there and lost uch time to Webber.

    s3 was perfect for Vettel, that’s why Webber tried to give his best in s3 but he himself did a mistake.

    That was great to watch!!

    1. Yago says:

      Much time left in the table from Vettel and Webber. Not a grate qualifying by the drivers, but an amazing car!!

  6. Antti says:

    What a great effort by Bottas, hopefully he gets a better car next season so that we can really see what he can deliver.

    1. Phil Glass says:

      +1.
      He missed out on p6 by making mistakes, but then everyone except Vettel made mistakes

      1. Yago says:

        That’s not accurate at all. There were some outstanding drives today (see Alonso and Hamilton, and Bottas until Q3) and Vettel is not in that pack. He was pretty slow in sectors 1 and 2. Please, try to extrapolate car performance from driver performance.

      2. Tim says:

        but then everyone except Vettel made mistakes..

        To be fair, Vettel made several errors. He missed the apex at turn 1 and missed the braking point and consequently the apex at turn 11 – by some margin. Despite this somewhat scruffy lap he, or the car (depending on your viewpoint), was still good enough to get the pole.

  7. luqa says:

    Kudos to the Hulk and Hekki!
    Raspberries to that spoilt brat looser with the big ego and marginal talent, together with a mean streak ( deliberately crash into the opposition) but a big wallet, Plastor Badly-donated! What a looser!
    Lotus should seriously reconsider taking this guy into the team despite his fat backing.

  8. German Samurai says:

    Had to laugh at McLaren getting egg on their faces. What’s that? 9-9 in qualifying between Perez and Button. You have to say that Perez has got stronger and stronger as the year has progressed. Button complaining again about his setup. He’s been around the sport for nearly 14 years why is he always having trouble setting it up?

    Again Hulkenberg outqualified Alonso despite having a customer Ferrari engine and a chassis built with a fraction of Ferrari’s funds.

    Kovalainen puts that Lotus on the fourth row which is basically where Kimi has qualified all season. Big problems for Ferrari next year. Can’t win a championship when you have two drivers that can’t qualify better than the third and fourth rows!!

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      Or 7th row in Massa’s case.

      1. German Samurai says:

        No argument from me that Massa has no business being on the grid. If Hulkenberg can consistently out-qualify Alonso despite driving a car with a fraction of Ferrari’s budget and using customer Ferrari engines, he’d probably destroy Alonso 17-2 in qualifying if they were teammates.

      2. DonSimon says:

        Wow. That’s an interesting view.

      3. puffing says:

        No way.

      4. Vettel JR says:

        I totally disagree with you there. FA is the best driver in the grid even with a car as slow as any NASCAR car.

    2. j says:

      To be fair to McLaren they expect Mag to be faster than Button AND faster than Perez. We shall see.

    3. Phil Glass says:

      It’s what Kimi does in the race on a sunday that Ferrari are interested in, actually. If they wanted saturday heros there’s plenty to choose from.
      Like Alonso, in the races Kimi is a magician, as JA says.

      I seriously doubt Kovi can replicate that……………….

    4. Elie says:

      Raikkonen was on the second row when he went back to the short wheelbase and was quicker than Grosjean all weekend – despite his back. Pity Kimi is not there because at Abu Dhabi he had come to grips with the tyre and car set up and looked set to take the fight to the bulls.

    5. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Hulkenber 4th-Gutierrez 10th
      Alonso 6th-Massa 15th

      The Sauber is faster than the Ferrari, but obviously that isnt something you would like to admit.

      1. German Samurai says:

        Gutierrez is better than Massa. Massa’s stayed so long at Ferrari by being Alonso’s test driver. He’s getting a drive for Williams because he brings sponsorship money.

        The Sauber being a better car than the Ferrari is just laughable. Let’s for a moment say it is faster than the Ferrari. Then Hulkenberg should be replacing Alonso at Ferrari on account of his ability to work with engineers and get the absolute maximum out of the team and the car itself.

  9. zx6dude says:

    Loved the way Claire Williams dealt with the comments and refused to talk badly about Maldonado. Real class – are you paying attention Maldonado? That is how its done.
    For me the quicker Maldonado leaves F1 the better. Talentless and unprofessional to boot.

    1. ZH says:

      I don’t think Maldonado is helping his own career by saying those nasty words.

    2. German Samurai says:

      I think you’re being harsh on Maldonado.

      His comments are no different to Alonso accusing Renault favoring Trulli in 2004, accusing the team of not supporting him in 2006, accusing McLaren of favoring Hamilton in 2007.

      1. Torchwood Five says:

        G S, agree with you there.

      2. Vettel JR says:

        Everybody knows that Hami was McLaren golden boy. IN fact he was part of the team since he was 14 YRS old. Did you forget when boss Dennis at McLaren said, after the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix when Lewis and Alonso were teammates, “We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando.”
        His total support of Lewis cost McLaren the championship that year.

      3. German Samurai says:

        I can’t remember whether it was 2003 or 04 that Alonso accused Renault of not doing enough to support him, implying that Trulli was being favored.

        Then accused Renault of not wanting him to win the championship in 2006 before the last race.

        We know what happened in 2007. Alonso knew he couldn’t beat Hamilton so tried to blackmail Ron Dennis into giving him favorable treatment over Hamilton.

        Speaking of golden boys, Briatore has gone to great lengths over the years to help Alonso. Firing Trulli in 2004 when he was leading Alonso in the championship is one, getting Piquet to crash for Alonso in 2008. I think Hamilton only ever wanted the same treatment. Look how embarrassed Hamilton was about team orders in Malaysia this year. Alonso on the other hand feels entitled to subservience from a teammate.

  10. Grant H says:

    Ham 5th
    Rosberg 14th
    (Difference 1 sec)

    Alonso 6th
    Massa 15th
    (Difference 1.2 sec)

    Bottas 9th
    Maldonado 18th
    (Difference 1.5 sec)

    Perez 7th
    Jenson 13th
    (Difference 0.7 sec)

    Really strange to see so big a gap between same cars, the difference in set up between team mates cant be that great, and i cant believe this is so much to do with driver skill level the gap is too big, so why could certain drivers get tyres to work and others not?

    Today shows how sensitive f1 cars are to changes in ambient condition / track condition

    1. zx6dude says:

      according to Maldonado it is because the engineers fiddled with tyre pressures and temperatures to sabotage team mates and miss out on valuable championship points ;)
      Weird McLaren seems to be sabotaging the driver that is staying…

      And now more seriously, well spotted. it is rather bizarre and they are significant differences too.

      Any ideas on why James? is it just not being able to “switch on” the tyres?

    2. SteveS says:

      You’re comparing Q3 times (for Hamilton, Alonso, Bottas, and Perez) to Q@ times for their teammates. Which does not make a lot of sense.

      LH was 0.5 secs ahead of NR in Q2. Perez was 0.18 secs ahead of Button.

      1. Grant H says:

        Fair point but the qually positions say exactly the same thing

      2. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        The Alonso-Massa difference in Q2 was 1.2 seconds.

      3. Yago says:

        Right. That was a really special performance today from Alonso.

    3. darren w says:

      These are really good comparisons to point out given the Maldonado accusations. He wasn’t the only driver to fall prey to the tricky conditions in relation to his teammate. He was the only one to float a conspiracy theory though.

  11. john says:

    Nice to see Heikki back in a competitive car.
    Seems like a chance to audition for a top seat next year. Unless Maldonado’s bought it already…..

    1. CYeo says:

      The cash is probably flowing towards Lotus’ coffers at the speed of lubricating oil.

      1. James Allen says:

        I think PDVSA want some guarantees that Lotus will be around long term

        Lotus want some bank guarantees from PDVSA before they commit to Maldonado

      2. yellowbelly says:

        Sounds like a marriage made in heaven. ;-)

      3. john says:

        The way you put it James, it starts to sound more like a catch 22, and less like a slam dunk. This is a top quality blog,by the way.

  12. Howard P says:

    Lotus are shaping up well for next year.

  13. Heinzman says:

    No love for Perez?

    1. Mendez says:

      Funny they didnt even mention McLaren…I wonder why…James any comment?

      1. Heinzman (Fan of: ALO) says:

        This is true Mendez, however I don’t think it was a conscious omission; James can’t cover everyone. Like you though, I thought Perez slaying his team mate would have made more noise considering the events that have preceded us!

        On another note, it is time for Bernie to subsidise HULK’s seat at Lotus!

  14. Petem says:

    Another Vettel win I’m predicting as would most others. Can’t take anything away from him, the car and driver in perfect sync BUT when you have such a dominant force it does take away from the overall entertainment value.
    It must be frustrating beyond belief for the other teams that they don’t have either a driver of Sebs quality or the technical guneious of a Newey.
    Bank Rolls determine who goes where. I just wish one day the best drivers in the world would get a chance to race F1 because at the moment as in the past they are still as Michael Schumacher stated once still racing karts.

    1. James Allen says:

      3/1000ths of a second is hardly “dominant” – Webber is driving really well at the moment.

      That said, Vettel will drive away in first stint of the race as he did in Abu Dhabi

      1. luqa says:

        James, that’s 103 milliseconds, not 3 milliseconds as you imply. Or, to put it another way, just over 1/10th of a second.
        Agree, Well done Webbo! He seems much less stressed out now and looser.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        But Vettel is not really on it 100% now he’s got the title, the edge is gone but still his class shows, great drive Hulkenberg please let the Sauber have some race pace and get on that podium.

      3. darren w says:

        Webber does seem to be driving particularly well at the moment. A really great way to finish his f1 career.

        Grosjean and Hulkenberg just continue to impress. I sure hope they both find fortune and end up with competitive cars next year.

    2. Dan says:

      lol frustrated they don’t have a driver of vettels quality? they have better but they lack Newey. Vettel beat a 37 year old journeyman team mate by 1 tenth and this is somehow impressive?

      Both redbull drivers drove very messy laps missed a number of apexes yet still locked out the front row by almost a second. Their car is a different formula, its called Newey F1.

      1. David Sydney says:

        Webber is a better drive than his results indicate. It’s just that he spent years with lesser teams until RedBull got its act together.

        Still, South Korea 2010 must go down as Webber’s biggest brain fade. He lost his WC that day.

      2. Kris says:

        Looking at how many wins Webber has during a four-year period when his car has been dominant for around 70-80% of the time (if not more) suggests he’s no better a driver than most of the guys in the midfield.

        Fans and the press like him because he’s straight talking, plays fair, holds his hands up when he under performs, etc. I like Nice Guy Mark as much as the next but his inability to challenge Vettel is as much to blame for how boring F1 has become over the second half of this season as Adrian Newey’s wizardry and Sebastian Vettel’s ability to exploit it.

        Unfortunately, I see Ricciardo following a little closely in Mark’s footsteps.

      3. Phil Glass says:

        Slight difference
        VET did not make any errors.
        WEB made errors and went off track, as usual, with the full approval of race stewards.

      4. JCA says:

        You do know that their were gusting cross winds in sector 1, where Mark got 2 tenths on Seb? It is quite conceivable that Seb had stronger winds on his lap, or more inconvenient gusts in the corners. Besides, everybody where struggling to hit the apexes with the cross winds, RoGro said it was pretty hairy out there.

        Seb has beaten Mark, who was considered a qualifying specialist before the RBR dominance, quite comfortably over their time together, it is convenient to cherry pic occasions when a driver made a mistake, and then pretend that it is the norm, when it is just an outlier. It is also convenient to pretend that RBR has been this much faster the whole four years, when they were only equal fastest at best, probably slightly slower than Mclaren, last year. They also lost many points through mechanical failures in 2010, when all the top drivers made mistakes that cost them points.

      5. Yago says:

        Wind was a factor to deal with, and it produced an amazing qualifying. But you are kind of suggesting it was impossible to put a lap together, or that the wind could make such a big difference over a two minute interval. That’s not the case, and this is the proof:
        Alonso’s Q2 time: 1:37.368
        Alonso’s Q3 time: 1:37.376

      6. JCA says:

        Well Yago, if the wind makes you slightly overshoot the apex at, say, the first or second corner, you are too slow for the whole first sector, as there’s no place to recover until you have a decent length of straight. So losing 2 tenths is quite easy. That is really the luck of the draw. The track would normally also become faster from the end of Q2 to the end of Q3, as the dust is clearing off it. Also the last run in Q2 is not normally run on minimum fuel, in case you have to do an extra lap due to traffic, the last run in Q3 is basically a one lap gamble on very low fuel. So Alonso also lost time, he lost what you usually gain.

      7. Juzh says:

        Pretty much everyone had scrappy laps on some parts of the track, but you and your selective memory only chose to see webber’s and vettel’s.

      8. Oletros says:

        I don’t know what you insist over and over again, it must be hard to have such feelings

    3. Vettel JR says:

      ALonso in the same car would had won it by many points too. Vettel isnt as great a FA.

  15. James M says:

    Come on Seb let’s make history. I think I’m in love! :)

  16. Gudien says:

    …meanwhile McLaren’s Jenson ‘Ace” Button has once again dominated Charles Pic in qualifying for the USGP! Marvelous.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Trying for a job in the McLaren PR department? ;)

      1. Kris says:

        The comedy of the McLaren love-in has been the only thing interesting about that team this year. Hopefully Mag makes this interesting next year before the big Honda overhaul.

  17. Racyboy says:

    Good job from the Finns.

    Valsecchi looked like he’d been slapped with a fish.

    1. zx6dude says:

      no wonder he does. must be tough to give up racing to become a reserve driver and when he is needed Lotus give the job to someone else.

      Very happy for Heikki though. he deserves the opportunity

    2. Random 79 says:

      Not the whole fish, just the finn.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        Wow, that’s a great quip for 1:41 am :)

      2. Random 79 says:

        I can’t really take credit for the time, it’s just wherever Jame’s server happens to be I think.

        For instance, as I write this it’s 11.50pm local, so let’s see what happens when I click this little button…

      3. Random 79 says:

        …and presto! I’ve just posted nine and a half hours ahead of James ;)

      4. graham says:

        hahaha…..good one, Random!

      5. Glennb says:

        That does it Random, no more posts until Webber wins his next race :)

      6. Random 79 says:

        Aww man, and I’ve just finished serving a penalty for Sebee :(

        C’mon Webber in Brazil! :)

      7. Glennb says:

        Sebee? Of all people ;)

    3. AJ says:

      Fair enough too

  18. Tealeaf says:

    Vettel, Webber, Grosjean and Hulkenberg did an incredible job. Rosberg, Maldonado, Button, Ferrari’s tyres didn’t work and what was I saying yesterday? Kovalainen will be 0.6s behind Grosjean and it was the case, its not down to the KERS in Q3 because in both Q1 and 2 Grosjean was significantly quicker, and we all know about Kovalainen’s lack of racecraft and pace, Lotus was wrong to annoy Raikkonen or not offer Hulk a permanent drive so he could do the last 2 race as well they could have got 2nd in the constructors and fight for the title next year, but I guess they want the easy way out with Maldonado money.

  19. Philipp says:

    I find it funny that the splittimes from webber in his last lap don’t add up to his total laptime…
    S1:26,091
    S2:38,507
    S3:31,615
    Total: 1:36,213

    this would be faster than Seb…

    Can anybody explain that?

    1. David Sydney says:

      Are these from his last lap or his fastest split times?

      He clearly made a mistake in S3 allowing SV to pip him at the post.

      Hope MW wins in Brazil, his last in F1 (and one of his favourites).

    2. hung says:

      True! What happen? FIA didn’t check this out?

    3. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      His last sector was 31.843, he made a mistake in his second lap. The 31.615 is his best time there but was in his first lap.

    4. Juzh says:

      Best sector times are from the entire session, not your fastest lap. Webber’s fastest 3rd sector was not set on his fastest lap, but on his 1st run in Q3.

    5. Klaus Kåg says:

      He didn’t deliver in S3 on his last lap. What you see there, is the personal best sector timers from Q3.

      In reality, Vettel didn’t take pole as much as Webber lost it. :)

      However, am I the only one that would have loved Webber to go to Vettel and with a big smile on his face saying “Seb, you’re really annoying, such an arse…!” ? :D

      1. Romeo says:

        What a shame for Webber being with such team and teammate. If in the last turn Vettel would have shown some class, he would have turn into the pits, and said thank you Mark for being the best partner one could ever have. But Vettel and Marko are a bunch of (fill-here). Mark with a well deserved pole and Seb into turn one in 1st place anyway. Sorry Mark, I love you man, but you just can seem to get the starts. Let’s see if Ricciardo can be a firewall, like you have been, for Vettel. I am sorry but Vettel for me would never be a champion in another car. Yes I am with the Boooing crowd. In 30 years I am not eager to watch F1. I for what I hear Renault will have something special for RB, so may be just the last year I watch. Thank Bernie, Marko and all those who have made this a procession behind RB. Booring.

    6. Gary says:

      You need to count in base six.

  20. Random 79 says:

    Hats off to Vettel – I was sure that Webber had it but no, once again the little guy made me swear at my poor TV :)

    Really impressed with Bottas. I never really saw what all the fuss is about: Now I do.

    As I might have mentioned somewhere above (it’s subtle) please Williams, stop trying to be so clever. It hasn’t worked the last three years and it’s probably not going to work again next year.

    Just build a solid car and let the drivers do the rest :)

  21. tim says:

    As per Ad and sing the final sector is all about traction where vettels funny engine map takes over

    1. Karl Webb says:

      What is Ad and Sing??
      And the final sector of US, most of Abu Dhabi and the middle of India have been traction zones.

      1. tim says:

        Yes Singapore and Abu Dhabi have lots of slow speed traction corners like the final sector this weekend – which is where vettel is killing everyone including Webber. I was at Singapore this year and was.very surprised at the sound of vettels car compared to webbers, and raised it on this site before it became a talking point. I am still dubious how vettel is soo much softer on his tires yet better in the traction zones – it does not make sense to me – funny how Webber has his match in the fast stuff this year but nowhere in the slow stuff, you would think it would be the other way around for an old guy.

  22. Goob says:

    Vettel is going to fall as bad as Button, when he is no longer protected…

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Not that bad, man. Sebastien is way better than Jenson, I agree Seb looks worse when the car doesnt suit him prefectly, but still compare him with Jenson is quite unfair (and I respect Jenson a lot, but he lacks speed).

    2. Tealeaf says:

      Are you serious? Or was that clutching at straw again? Fall as bad? In what sense? All these jealous remarks about the champion is tbh uncalled for and just look at the state of the rest of the grid of world champions, I’d bet Vettel will win more championships with or without Redbull, too fast, too consistent and way too much class for certain people to handle.

    3. Juzh says:

      cool story bro, tell it again

  23. Scuderia McLaren says:

    The sense of entitlement some of these boys have is amazing to me.

    Valsecchi’s out burst, thinking his progression is more important than the teams chances of securing a better slot in the WCC is telling really.

    Now Pasta Cabonara’s BS?! Oh sorry, Pastor Maldonado’s outburst?! I mean, c’mon PM, as if they do that. They are desperate to ensure Marrussia and Caterham don’t sneak a point. They would sabotage 50% of their chance of defending their already shitty WCC level.

    What these boys really need to get is this. WCC places mean actual hard cash. The teams are struggling. They will (and should) always act in the best financial interests of the team even if they think their driver is a dick head.

    What’s going on with these Frijns, Valsecchi, Maldonado, Alguesuari boys thinking that they don’t need humility prior to establishing themselves. You never heard a Hakkinen, Schumacher, Senna etc say such shit at the start of their careers. They were grateful regardless of poor equipment then made their situations work with talent, work ethic, ambition and team playing.

    Send them to the Montoya / R.Schumacher / Villeneuve pile of F1 talented rejects who just didn’t quite get it.

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Supposed to be: “They WOULD’NT sabotage 50% of their chance of defending their already shitty WCC level.”

    2. David Sydney says:

      I actually blame the way drivers are promoted. Why shouldn’t a GP2 Champion be peeved he doesn’t get a shot at F1?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Here’s an idea: Whoever wins GP2 automatically gets promoted to an F1 seat courtesy of and paid for by the FIA.

        I know the idea is extremely simplistic and could use some work, but talent should be rewarded.

    3. Random 79 says:

      +1

      I can understand the frustration of some drivers at times, but Pastor’s outburst really does take the cake.

    4. Rob01 says:

      Well maybe Williams have tampered witb the car like Mclaren use to do to Alonso’s, maybe Williams think Pastor is more useful fighting the Caterhams and Marussias on the race track and maybe even take them out who knows, its a stab in the dark but anything is possible with that team, I remember old Frank’s ruthless streaks when he got rid of Mansell, Prost and Hill after winning the championship for the team, how the mighty have fallen! I was gutted when Mansell and Hill was ditched as I was fans of both drivers as a little boy but watching that Frank’s ruthless face in support of the likes of Jacques Villeneuve made me turn to the likes of Hakkinen and Schumacher as Williams’s spoilers and you know what nearly 20 years on what goes around comes around and I’m certainly enjoying watching Williams trying to fend off the likes of Marrusia, good luck finding funds for next year and beyond Williams.

      1. Gary says:

        Why did Frank ditch Nigel for 1993? The Damon Hill episode I think I understand as there were always questions about his race skills, but Nigel? Mansell was ferocious.

      2. trev says:

        for you Rob

        quote from Alonso when he announced he was leaving Mclaren
        “I know there have been suggestions of favoritism within the team and people say a lot of things in the heat of battle, but in the end I was always provided with an equal opportunity to win.”
        (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/SPORT/11/02/mclaren.alonso/)

      3. AlexD says:

        interesting comment. I only watch F1 since 1999/2000, so I do not know all of this. The image Williams has is that it is a very solid, always fighting for the right thing team…:-)

      4. JC says:

        McLaren tampered with Alonso? Frank ‘sacked’ Prost? Have you been watching the right sport?

  24. Methusalem says:

    Larry the cable-guy must be laughing out loud at McLaren. When was the last time the Woking team missed a podium place in a season?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Dammit I knew that one but I missed the buzzer :(

      2. Tom in adelaide says:

        And will it be a catalyst for positive change? Nope – let’s chuck a rookie in the car and our heads in the sand….

      3. Tim says:

        McLaren have been doing this for 50 years, they are the second most successful team of all time and have managed multiple world champions and some of the greatest drivers ever. I can’t help but wonder if, just maybe, they might know a bit more than you (and I for that matter). You have to admit this is a strong possibility :-)

  25. Richard says:

    I suppose the grid can be sorted into those that switched the tyres on, and those that didn’t. That coupled with the gusty cross wind was enough to give us a mixed up grid. I also think some drivers are better in tricky conditions than others, but pure luck will have played it’s part as well. As to the race it looks like a Red Bull 1-2, but with Webber’s starts I think Grosjean will move up into P2 initially. Not sure what Hamilton will do, but Alonso is bound to give it a go at the start. The up hill start will be interesting in it’s effect. I would expect to see Rosberg move up into the points during the race.

  26. kfzmeister says:

    James, it’s starting to look like writing yet another Vettel article is getting by the minute. Is it really possible to even find any further words to make it seem interesting?? Jus sayn.

    1. kfzmeister says:

      “harder”

  27. paddy says:

    James, for Lotus to choose Pastor over Hulk, purely on the worth of the sponsorship., does it not work out more profitable, longterm, to choose a driver that will fight for wins, bring the car home, get your team high up in the standings? Even if pastor brings the money, then theres surely a target based system for Lotus to recieve the full whack of whats on offer? No? I cant see how going for Pastor over Hulk is even a dilema, its rediculous. From the outside. Cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Depends how urgent your need for funds is..

      1. Gary says:

        It could come down to a question of cash flow, even if the premise of the question is correct, I.e. that a Hulk might bring in more cash via the WCC fund. The WCC monies come at the end of the season whereas some, or even all, of the money from the enslaved people of Venezuela can be structured to arrive up front, in advance of the season as it is simply a negotiated deal.

      2. Bernard says:

        I thought Lopez had said it wasn’t urgent? Guess that’s a Mandy Rice Davis response.

      3. paddy says:

        Totally forgot they awarded it at the end of the season. But then if thats the case their bound to get a fair wack for the past season soon then. I just thought that the sponsorship wouldnt be paid in full untill certain targets had been hit throughout the 2014 season. But there you go. Much appreciated.

      4. Datruthertz says:

        But then if thats the case their bound to get a fair wack for the past season soon then..(sic)

        Perhaps they already owe the end of season prize money to someone. Wasn’t there something recently about a driver not having been paid….

    2. Yago says:

      Pastor is a much better driver than what appearances suggest. He is not a worse driver than Grosjean I believe. Probably faster. Maybe we will find out next year.

    3. Datruthertz says:

      @paddy
      for Lotus to choose Pastor over Hulk, purely on the worth of the sponsorship., does it not work out more profitable, longterm, to choose a driver that will fight for wins, bring the car home, get your team high up in the standings?…..

      Crikey, you are really onto something there – I wonder if Lotus management had considered that.

      1. paddy says:

        Maybe you should be on their panel. Instead of trolling from your childrens panel. Cheers

  28. Elie says:

    Great fight between Mark and Seb it’s fantastic nice that mark can finish his career in such top level fighting form. Really enjoyed that- good work Mark.

    It still stuns me how people’s opinions change from season to season, race to race and even day to day of how good or bad a driver or favourite is. Utterly ridiculous !and laughable at some of the comments I see. Some people did a complete turnaround on Heikki virtually overnight. Others have written off Raikkonen and thrown him into the garbage bin, Alonso is no longer king sh..”, Hamilton is now rubbish.., I said Heikki should make a top 8 even before he turned a wheel at Lotus and we can only hope for him and Lotus that he maintains that… Or possibly improved a spot or 2. I think the gusty conditions and ambient temperatures affected several teams incl Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and obviously different car sets ups to cater for this reflected in different team mate position.
    Red Bull should walk away with this race- still tossing up whether I should even watch it .

    I’ll leave you with this .. ” If you have a great result now it means nothing because if you have a bad result or don’t finish the race tomorrow the same people will say how bad it is so it means nothing to me what people say or write about “

    1. Paige says:

      I don’t think people’s opinions change. I think that the chorus for a driver- be it supportive or hateful- grows louder one way or another based on how the season goes.

      Hamilton is a perfect example. He hasn’t had the easiest time this year with the new team, having brake issues as well as a number of car setup issues and even car defects that have affected his pace. He has also, admittedly, made some characteristic mistakes that he shouldn’t be making anymore. Combine that with the fact that Nico has done a good- but not spectacular- job this year, and now everyone is saying that Nico is as good as Lewis. This includes the ever self-promoting Nico Rosberg, who takes every opportunity he can to toot his own horn and talk about what a great driver he is. Now, he’s saying that he is just as talented and is only behind in points because of retirements. (Even though those retirements were from 8th-10th places in races when he was well behind Lewis.) The fact is that despite all of the problems Hamilton has had, he’s outqualified and outscored Nico- and when he has had things relatively in order with the car, he’s turned in truly special performances at times this year that Rosberg simply can’t put together. (Example: the pole lap at Silverstone. Rosberg simply can’t do that.)

      I’m not going to say that Hamilton is the best driver in F1. But he is certainly a cut above Rosberg, he is in the group of the elite four drivers in F1 right now, and when he is on his game, no one is quicker. He has to work on his consistency and has to do a better job of getting his car set up from race to race, but this season in my mind has really done nothing to change where he stands in F1 in terms of pure talent.

      1. Elie says:

        Agree totally on Hamilton . He is better than Rosberg for sure. In terms of natural talent you can put Lewis and Kimi in any car tomorrow and they will find the pace almost immediately– no other drivers have that ability. They need to work months or more to “feel” it.

  29. xyler says:

    I only say: A lead of 8/10s!
    (What has happened in the qualifying that RB has such a commanding lead?)

  30. Joe says:

    Alonso has said he’s been suffering headaches since shortly after the race in Abu Dhabi. That isn’t a good sign but he says they’ve improved in the past week. Sounds like he wouldn’t have raced if there had only been a week between Abu Dhabi and Texas.

  31. JB says:

    That an amazing pole lap from Vettel! He came back after loosing to Webber in both sector1 and 2.

    That said, I feel Vettel is not good with a track yet. Webber seems to be more atuned to the track just like Hamilton is.

    Bottas has finally come of age. There was much hype about his natural talent and Mika Hakkinen must be relieved to see Botta’s performance today.

    As for his teammate… Oooo… seems like he is eating sour grapes now.

    After Massa got signed up with Williams and now look at him. LOL… He is back to a boring Taxi Driver mode now.

    Alonso seems to be enduring a potentially serious injury. A 25g impact is a serious impact. Now he complaints about headache. I hope he will get well during off-season break.

    Good to know that Kimi had the surgery. I hope his back will recover to 100%.

    Interesting to see that Ferrari have their 2014 drivers with serious injury history.

    Will be an interesting race this afternoon. It seems that the track does not clean up like other tracks do. Possibly the dusty gust of winds that continually add dirt onto the track. I think there are drivers who are sensitive to changes namely, Button, Rosberg and even Vettel. The ones who can tolerant to these are Hamilton, Alonso, Hulkenburg, Webber. These drivers are naturally more aggressive in their methods, painful for the tires but it works in quali when you just want fastest time at any price.

  32. David C says:

    2 hours to go, got the flat screen for the TV feed, live timing on the laptop and car tracker on the iPad feeling ready to consume F1!!!!!!!

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