Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettal and Romain Grosjean (from left to right)
The 2013 Formula 1 season's penultimate race takes place in Austin, Texas, at the Circuit of the Americas.
The season's major prizes have all been settled—Sebastian Vettel is world champion, and Red Bull are the top constructors once again—but behind them there's plenty of intrigue on the track and off it, with the last few race seats in 2014 up for grabs.
Practice sessions for the race take place on Friday and Saturday ahead of qualifying, with the race set for Sunday.
Bleacher Report Race Weekend Essentials
Your comprehensive U.S. GP preview by Neil James.
Key storylines to watch in Austin by Scott Mitchell.
Looking at the race weekend odds.
In what should come as a shock to no one that has followed Formula One this season, Team Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished first in qualifying for Sunday’s Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Vettel managed a time of 1:36.338.
Team Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was also in contention for the pole as he racked up an impressive time of 1:36.441, just 0.1 seconds off the lead. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an F1 fanatic to explain just how similar those times are and how hard it is for a team to achieve that much consistency.
Romain Grosjean of Team Lotus used his stellar performance in the third practice session to gain momentum heading into Saturday’s qualifying and managed an impressive third-place finish. His time of 1:37.155 has him less than a second off the pace of the leaders.
Nico Hulkenberg of Team Sauber was another driver that took his solid finish in Saturday’s morning practice and carried it over into qualifying with a time of 1:37.296. He earned a fourth-place starting spot for Sunday’s event.
Team Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five with a time of 1:37.345.
Here is a complete list of where every driver qualified:
|1||S Vettel (GER)||Red Bull||1:36.338|
|2||M Webber (AUS)||Red Bull||1:36.441|
|3||R Grosjean (FRA)||Lotus||1:37.155|
|4||N Hülkenberg (GER)||Sauber||1:37.296|
|5||LC Hamilton (GBR)||Mercedes||1:37.345|
|6||F Alonso (ESP)||Ferrari||1:37.376|
|7||S Perez (MEX)||McLaren||1:37.452|
|8||H Kovalainen (FIN)||Lotus||1:37.715|
|9||V Bottas (FIN)||Williams||1:37.836|
|10||E Gutiérrez (MEX)||Sauber||1:38.034|
|11||D Ricciardo (AUS)||Toro Rosso||1:38.131|
|12||P di Resta (GBR)||Force India||1:38.139|
|13||J Button (GBR)||McLaren||1:38.217|
|14||N Rosberg (GER)||Mercedes||1:38.364|
|15||F Massa (BRA)||Ferrari||1:38.592|
|16||JE Vergne (FRA)||Toro Rosso||1:38.696|
|17||A Sutil (GER)||Force India||1:39.250|
|18||P Maldonado (VEN)||Williams||1:39.351|
|19||G van der Garde (NED)||Caterham||1:40.491|
|20||J Bianchi (FRA)||Marussia||1:40.528|
|21||C Pic (FRA)||Caterham||1:40.596|
|22||M Chilton (GBR)||Marussia||1:41.401|
Sebastian Vettel and team Red Bull stole the show at the third practice session Saturday for the 2013 United States Formula One Grand Prix.
Vettel and teammate Mark Webber had the two fastest times in free practice with times of 1:36.733 and 1:36.936 respectively. The duo managed to hold off the hard-charging Team Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton as he put up a late-lap time of 1:37.064.
Nico Hulkenberg of Team Sauber (1:37.272) and Romain Grosjean of Team Lotus (1:37.345) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
If the tight gap between times on the leaderboard are any indication of how fierce the competition will be for the United States Grand Prix Sunday, this race will be a can’t miss television event.
|1||S Vettel (GER)||Red Bull||1:36.733|
|2||M Webber (AUS)||Red Bull||1:36.936|
|3||LC Hamilton (GBR)||Mercedes||1:37.064|
|4||N Hülkenberg (GER)||Sauber||1:37.272|
|5||R Grosjean (FRA)||Lotus||1;37.345|
|6||J Button (GBR)||McLaren||1:37.534|
|7||N Rosberg (GER)||Mercedes||1:37.578|
|8||S Perez (MEX)||McLaren||1:37.583|
|9||V Bottas (FIN)||Williams||1:37.747|
|10||A Sutil (GER)||Force India||1:37.748|
|11||F Alonso (ESP)||Ferrari||1:37.763|
|12||E Gutiérrez (MEX)||Sauber||1:37.774|
|13||H Kovalainen (FIN)||Lotus||1:37.879|
|14||P Maldonado (VEN)||Williams||1:38.022|
|15||D Ricciardo (AUS)||Toro Rosso||1:38.109|
|16||P di Resta (GBR)||Force India||1:38.275|
|17||F Massa (BRA)||Ferrari||1:38.408|
|18||JE Vergne (FRA)||Toro Rosso||1:38.636|
|19||C Pic (FRA)||Caterham||1:39.578|
|20||G van der Garde (NED)||Caterham||1:40.056|
|21||J Bianchi (FRA)||Marussia||1:40.825|
|22||M Chilton (GBR)||Marussia||1:41.293|
*Times via ESPNF1.com.
Sebastian Vettel reprised his familiar position on the top of the timesheets in second practice ahead of the United States Grand Prix in Austin.
The unusual looking results from FP1 were replaced with Red Bull in the top two slots, followed by the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
But an encouraging fifth place went to Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus. The Finn, stepping in for injured compatriot Kimi Raikkonen, was just seven-tenths of a second adrift of Vettel and quicker than teammate Romain Grosjean.
But regardless of the rest of the field, it was Vettel who looked like the class act—both on the quicker tyres and on the prime tyres when running a race simulation.
At one stage, as reported by Autosport, he was told to slow down by his team because his lap of 1:42.9 was still faster than the time plan proposed by his engineers.
If that is his biggest worry this weekend, there's no reason to assume the German won't seal an eighth consecutive Grand Prix victory.
Elsewhere on the track, both Saubers fared well and bagged top eight positions—good enough to be ahead of both McLarens and Ferraris, and some indication of how far Formula 1's two leading marques have drifted away from the front of the grid as the season wears on.
Tyres lasted well on longer stints, suggesting that teams will look to avoid too many trips to the pits on race day.
Here are the session times as recorded by Lotus:
Fernando Alonso came out in front in a bizarre first practice session ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin.
The first 40 minutes of the session were lost to fog, the visibility too poor for the drivers to get out and test, and the medical helicopters would be unable to take off or land in the event of an emergency.
Then, a quarter-of-an-hour later, the session was red-flagged when it transpired that there was in fact no medical helicopter present.
Some might suggest that the strangest event of all, however, was seeing a Ferrari top the timesheets. The men behind Alonso—McLaren's Jenson Button, Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber—gave a hint to how topsy-turvy the truncated session times were.
Sebastian Vettel was down in 18th, though his running was not a true indication of his pace, and more is expected of the Red Bull provided the second session is unaffected by weather or circumstance.
After the session Button was slapped with a three-place grid penalty for an overtaking manoeuvre under the red flag.
And during the session news filtered through that the absent Kimi Raikkonen's back operation had taken place successfully.
Here are the session times, as tweeted by Ferrari: