Saturday, 17 November 2012 23:00

Vettels Takes Pole In Austin

Vettels Takes Pole In Austin Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Sebastian and Lewis Hamilton battled for pole with Vettel edging him by .1 seconds.

Sebastian has been in dominant form at the new Circuit of the Americas, topping the time sheets in all three free practice sessions and he continued to set the pace in qualifying. After comfortably progressing through the opening segments Seb then lit up the timing screens in Q3 to dislodge Lewis Hamilton from provisional pole position after the McLaren driver had done the same to Webber with his own run.

Afterwards, Sebastian admitted that his 36th career pole position leaves him confident of a good race tomorrow.

“It’s good to start from pole and be on the clean side of the grid,” he said. “It was important to feel the car from the first session onwards, in order to get more out of it as the weekend developed – we can be happy with the result and look forward to tomorrow.

Sebastian’s sole remaining title rival, Fernando Alonso, qualified in ninth position but Vettel insisted he would be focusing on his own race and not the starting position of a competitor.

“In terms of the championship, we need to focus on ourselves and try to get the best result that we can,” he said. “If you’re thinking about where the others are, then you don’t get the optimum from yourself, and that’s what we need to focus on. Our job is done today, but so far no one has scored any points.”

Mark was left pleased with his third place behind Hamilton, admitting that starting on the clean side of the track behind his team-mate is a bonus.

“We were all a bit concerned about the grip difference between the left and right hand side of the grid,” he said. “We were able to make some practice starts after P3, which was important and made it a bit more even. The field wasn’t that settled today during qualifying, but it’s a tricky venue on tyres and that was the theme of the day.

“I’m happy to be third. The strategy for tomorrow looks reasonably straightforward, but it’s the first time we will have raced here, so we need to stay on our toes and be flexible if needed.”

Of the duo’s performance, Team Principal Christian Horner said: “A very strong qualifying for the team and it’s great to get the first pole at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas.

“Sebastian has been quickest in every session of the weekend so far and converted it into an excellent pole position, backed up by a solid third pace from Mark on what will hopefully be the cleaner side of the grid,” he added. “So, a strong start to the weekend but it’s now important that we convert these positions into a strong result.”

With Mark third, fourth place in the session went to Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, but the Frenchman will drop five places after an unscheduled gearbox change. Fifth in the session was Grosjean’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, while Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher finished sixth, ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Alonso and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “The low levels of degradation here, a slippery surface, and the teams’ better understanding of the tyres at the end of the season are the key factors leading us to what is likely to be a one-stop race tomorrow. However, with the championship so finely balanced, we did not want to do anything drastic on a brand new circuit that might have in any way interfered with the title battle, which could go down to the final race of the season. With more knowledge about this track next year, it’s likely to be a different story. Congratulations to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel for a dominant performance so far with fastest time in every session of qualifying, but with a possibility of rain tomorrow – which could prompt the use of the Cinturato Green intermediates or Cinturato Blue full wets here for the first time – this weekend is a very long way from being a foregone conclusion.”

Sebastian Vettel:
“It’s good to start from pole and be on the clean side of the grid. It was important to feel the car from the first session onwards, in order to get more out of it as the weekend developed – we can be happy with the result and look forward to tomorrow. The car feels great. In terms of the Championship, we need to focus on ourselves and try to get the best result that we can. If you’re thinking about where the others are, then you don’t get the optimum from yourself, and that’s what we need to focus on. Our job is done today, but so far no one has scored any points”

Mark Webber:
“We were all a bit concerned about the grip difference between the left and right hand side of the grid. We were able to make some practice starts after P3, which was important and made it a bit more even. The field wasn’t that settled today during qualifying, but it’s a tricky venue on tyres and that was the theme of the day. I’m happy to be third. The strategy for tomorrow looks reasonably straightforward, but it’s the first time we will have raced here, so we need to stay on our toes and be flexible if needed.”

Lewis Hamilton:

"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.

"Looking ahead to tomorrow, Turn One is very wide and there’ll be lots of opportunities for drivers to make or lose positions. My side of the grid will be a bit dirty, because it’s off-line, so I hope the authorities will cleaning the circuit on that side of the track so that the drivers on the inside will have a chance to at least keep their positions at the start."

Jenson Button:

"It was such a pity to be put out of the running so early into the qualifying session. We had a throttle pedal problem – the engineers don’t yet know exactly what caused it – but I suffered a loss of drive out on the circuit. Fortunately, I got one decently quick lap in during Q2, which was good enough for P12, otherwise I’d have been starting much farther back.

"This circuit is such a fun place to drive around, but it’s not going to be too easy to overtake. Going into Turn One at the start is also going to be tricky, particularly as I’ll be starting so far back.

"Still, I really hope we can put on a great show for all the American fans – it’s great to see so many people embracing the sport."

Sergio Pérez:
“We have lost a lot of performance compared to this morning’s practice session and at the moment we don’t really know why. The track temperature increased a lot, but for me the tyre warm up still wasn’t any better. My car tended to oversteer quite a lot in qualifying. Perhaps we did not follow the way the track conditions developed in the right direction. I want to thank all the people in the grandstands and especially all the Mexicans, who sacrificed time and money to travel to Austin and bought tickets. In my country you always go with your entire family and I know this is not easy to do because it is an expensive trip. I wish I could have done better today, but I will do my very best to give all these people a good race tomorrow. For sure I will fight for points however difficult this might be.”

Kamui Kobayashi:
“Without doubt the result is disappointing for us because after free practice we were expecting a better qualifying. I found the warm up of the tyres easier this afternoon, but still I could not find the peak performance for the tyres. I just don’t know yet why this was. Tomorrow in the race it should be less of a problem to get the tyres to work, but obviously our grid positions will make it difficult to put in a good result.”

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