Formula 1 News

Vettel fastest in first practice in Texas

The wait is over and finally the cars hit the Circuit of the Americas track. Sebastian Vettel clocked a time 1.418s faster than Hamilton (2nd best) in the first practice session.
Friday, November 16, 2012

AUSTIN, TEXAS, Nov 16, 2012 (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel, chasing his third consecutive world title, topped the times for Red Bull in Friday's opening free practice session for this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old German, who needs to outscore nearest rival Fernando Alonso by 15 points to become Formula One's youngest triple champion, produced his customary blistering pace in his first run at the brand new Circuit of the Americas 25 kilometres out of downtown Austin.

In his 100th Grand Prix event, Vettel looked ominously quick as he clocked a best time of one minute and 38.125 seconds around the 5.516-km track to wind up top of the time screens ahead of Lewis Hamilton of McLaren by more than 1.4 seconds.

Title rival Alonso of Ferrari was third fastest, a further 0.8 seconds adrift, ahead of Jenson Button in the second McLaren, Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari.

If it did little else, the opening session proved that Vettel and Red Bull will have few problems adapting to the demands of the circuit and that the usual suspects -- Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari -- will be the teams to beat.

Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weekends ago, was first out on to the 'green' circuit on a morning of many minor incidents as the drivers learned their way round the spectacular sweeping track.

German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India was the first driver to enjoy a major spin, but most of the field endured a variety of unscheduled excursions off the ashphalt, notably at Turn 19 where Hamilton, Vettel and Massa all slithered wide as they under-estimated the fast left-hand corner.

Hamilton looked likely to be the session-topper until, with only three minutes to go, Vettel blitzed to his fastest lap and left his rivals with little chance to respond.

Hulkenberg ended up seventh fastest ahead of Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and Sergio Perez of Sauber.

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:38.125 30
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:39.543 1.418 28
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.337 2.212 29
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.528 2.403 29
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:40.650 2.525 30
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.966 2.841 26
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.023 2.898 29
8 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:41.036 2.911 28
9 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.159 3.034 32
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:41.473 3.348 29
11 11 Paul di Resta Force India 1:41.783 3.658 29
12 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:41.825 3.700 28
13 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:41.833 3.708 29
14 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:41.880 3.755 23
15 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.998 3.873 27
16 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:42.539 4.414 30
17 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:42.588 4.463 25
18 25 Charles Pic Marussia 1:43.288 5.163 23
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:43.443 5.318 28
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1:43.522 5.397 23
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia 1:44.464 6.339 24
22 19 Bruno Senna Williams 1:44.548 6.423 29
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1:46.917 8.792 13
24 23 Qing Hua Ma HRT 1:48.559 10.434 19

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