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GP Week : Issue 195
With penalties for Jenson Button and Charles Pic going into qualifying, sunday’s grid looked slightly different to saturday’s classification. One thing that was not expected to change, however, was Vettel’s permanent spot at the sharp end of the grid – although in the end, team-mate Mark Webber almost pulled off another of his pole surprises ... The Red Bull racer dominated both FP2 and FP3, and would almost certainly have ruled FP1 had the session been a typical one not curtailed by fog and absent helicopters. Such was the team’s confidence going into Q1 that Vettel and Webber remained in the garage for much of the session, emerging only for a quick run on the prime compound when the track was nearly empty. There was impeding drama for Pastor Maldonado, who was on a speed run when he came across the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez at Turn 20. The latter man was weaving as he warmed his tyres, and there was a close call which the stewards investigated after qualifying. Despite strong winds that slowed the drivers as they lapped the circuit, the Q1 cut-off was 1m39.094s, something the Red Bulls were easily able to manage on hards as their rivals opted for the safety of mediums. But with the Q1 dropout zone usually a fixed quantity, it was in Q2 that the action became interesting. The early Q2 runners headed straight out on mediums, faced with a track two degrees cooler than it had been in Q1. The falling temperatures plus increasing winds added to the challenge faced by the drivers in the 15 minutes of Q2. Webber went straight to the top of the timesheets on his first run, shod in mediums, while Vettel pulled off his customary trick of finding pace where others have none, crossing the line with two-tenths in hand over the opposition. The medium was the tyre of choice for all 16 runners in what proved to be a close-fought session in the middle of the pack, from Esteban Gutierrez’ 1m38.031s that put the Mexican in P8 down to Nico Rosberg in P14 with a 1m38.364s lap. Q1 turned out to be a classic intra-team battle and, for all but the last few seconds, it looked like Mark Webber might upstage his exalted team-mate again. He was quicker on the first run on Mediums, then went half a second quicker on the first two sectors of his second run – but spoiled it with a slight mistake in the third, opening the door for Vettel. The German put together three solid sectors and took pole, by just over a tenth ... Valtteri Bottas, who has been on stunning form all afternoon, snatched provisional third from Grosjean but was still a second behind the slower of the two Red Bulls, sparking fears of a very dull race on Sunday. Nico Hulkenberg got closer, with a 1m37.2s, while Grosjean trimmed the gap to Red Bull by another tenth. On the following pages, AbhIShek TAkle takes a closer look at the incidents that shaped the 2013 United States Grand Prix, from heikki kovalainen’s racing return to the differing fortunes of the Williams driver pairing and beyond... QUALIFYING 1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m36.338s 2. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m36.441s 3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m37.155s 4. Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1m37.296s 5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m37.345s 6. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m37.376s 7. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m37.452s 8. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) 1m37.715s 9. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m37.836s 10. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m38.131s 11. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m38.139s 12. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m38.364s 13. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m38.592s 14. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m38.696s 15. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1m38.217s * 16. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m39.250s 17. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m39.351s 18. Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) 1m40.491s 19. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m40.528s 20. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1m38.034s** 21. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m41.401s 22. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m40.596s *** * Jenson Button qualified in P12, but incurred a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under red flags in FP1 and started from P15. ** Esteban Gutierrez qualified in P10, but incurred a 10-place grid penalty for impeding in qualifying and started from P20. *** Charles Pic qualified in P21, but incurred a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change and started from P22. MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH ... THE GRID 29 GPWEEK.com // 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> UNITED STATES