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Qualifying from the USA - Formula 1 World Championship 2012

Published by Christine

Red Bull have shown impressive pace around the COTA so far, but there is still plenty of time for another car to shine. Vettel hasn't had it all his own way the past few days, with his car developing a water leak during the practice sessions. Reliability in these last few races will be paramount! Meanwhile, the tyres will also play a big part, with Pirelli expecting a one-stop strategy and drivers rather subdued on the possibility of overtaking. Qualifying will be crucial, particularly the battle between Vettel and Alonso.

As it happened: 2012 United States - Qualifying

  • 17:45

    Hello there, how are you? Welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for qualifying for the United States GP!

  • 17:47

    Have you been eyeing up all the footage and photos from the sunny and shiny Circuit of the Americas?

  • 17:48

    We still don't know how it will fare as a racing circuit, but it's looked good so far.

  • 17:49

    Pirelli gave all the drivers extra sets of tyres for practice, but none of them could challenge Sebastian Vettel! He led all three sessions with ease.

  • 17:50

    There was also a moment between Sergio Pérez and Charles Pic in FP3 - they collided as the Sauber tried to undertake through a corner. No action from the stewards, but worrying to have a crash in practice.

  • 17:50

    Talking of stewards, we already know that Romain Grosjean will drop five places from wherever he qualifies thanks to those pesky gearboxes.

  • 17:51

    If you have a spare minute and haven't voted already, do head on over to Sidepodcast and make your polesitter prediction:

  • 17:54

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: You can bank on lots of track action! Top teams will likely do longer runs on the Hard tyre & we will do longer runs than normal on Medium

  • 17:56



    Wind speed1.8mps
  • 17:56

    Don't forget live timing: and live comments: to keep you informed.

  • 17:57

    Lots of famous faces at the track this weekend, Matt Le Blanc and Ron Howard spotted so far.

  • 17:58

    TweetTweet from @TheFifthDriver: Quick reminder: Lewis finished 2nd fastest in final practice this morning, within sniffing distance of VET. It's going to be very tight!

  • 18:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 18:00

    The session begins, with Sebastian Vettel standing at the back of the garage - arms folded, eyes closed, music piping in through his headphones.

  • 18:01

    Meanwhile, other drivers are actually getting to work, with seven drivers out early.

  • 18:01

    Both HRT drivers are among the first out on track - the team are not confident they will get inside the 107% cutoff here today.

  • 18:02

    Lotus, Sauber, Williams and Marussia also have their drivers out for early laps in this first session.

  • 18:03

    Rubens Barrichello is tucked away in one of the garages, gives the cameras a big smile and a big wave. Lovely chap.

  • 18:04

    The first lap times start to trickle in. The HRT drivers have set 1:45s, with Timo Glock already two seconds faster, and Kimi Räikkönen a further two seconds up on that.

  • 18:06

    We've got a replay of Pedro de la Rosa locking up considerably as he makes his way round the track. Both HRTs have improved to 1:43s now.

  • 18:07

    The rest of the field are starting to filter out of their garages now, we just have McLaren, Caterham and Mercedes resting up for now. And Webber.

  • 18:07

    Romain Grosjean pips his teammate to P1, dropping the times considerably. 1:39.078.

  • 18:08

    We don't have much data to go on in terms of benchmark times, but Sebastian Vettel's fastest lap of FP3 was 1:36.490.

  • 18:09

    All the drivers have been out on track now, with just Kobayashi in the pitlane at the moment. Busy out there!

  • 18:10

    Grosjean still has the fastest time, many are just getting their sighter laps on the board.

  • 18:11

    All 24 drivers out on track now. Grosjean heads Webber and Hülkenberg. P1 has dropped to 1:37.885.

  • 18:12

    Schumacher's first lap is a wicked slow 2:01.406. I think he'll probably try another one.

  • 18:14

    Kamui Kobayashi is the last driver to cross the line for his own lap time, he has posted a 1:44.767.

  • 18:14

    With just about five minutes left to go, Petrov, Kobayashi and Schumacher are all currently outside the 107% cutoff time.

  • 18:15

    Sebastian Vettel has jumped up to P1, topping Grosjean. We're looking at a 1:37.165 now.

  • 18:15

    In the middle of the pack sits a certain Jean-Éric Vergne - he who usually drops out in Q3. Could he spring a surprise today?

  • 18:16

    Pastor Maldonado pops up to third, with Felipe Massa behind him. Schumacher improves out of the drop zone to 12th place.

  • 18:16

    Now it is just Petrov who sits outside the cutoff time. 107% being 1:43.966 and Petrov has a 1:44.2.

  • 18:17

    Two and a half minutes left and still every single driver is out on track. It is manic out there!

  • 18:18

    Karthikeyan has slowed to a halt off track. HRT are within the 107% at the moment, but he may not have a chance to improve if it drops.

  • 18:18

    Yellow flagYellow flags for Karthikeyan's stricken car.

  • 18:19

    Petrov has managed to get himself inside the 107% finally, and even jumped ahead of teammate Kovalainen. Currently sitting 21st.

  • 18:19

    The drop zone features the usual suspects as well as a certain Nico Rosberg.

  • 18:20

    Rosberg improves to 17th... just! That knocks Ricciardo into the drop zone.

  • 18:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 18:20

    The marshals are busy hauling away Karthikeyan's car, the yellow flags continue as the session timer clicks over to zero.

  • 18:21
    Qualifying Position
    18D RicciardoToro Rosso
    19T GlockMarussia
    20C PicMarussia
    21V PetrovCaterham
    22H KovalainenCaterham
    23P de la RosaHRT
    24N KarthikeyanHRT
  • 18:22

    So it wasn't Vergne, it was his teammate Ricciardo that dropped out in the first session of qualifying.

  • 18:22

    Meanwhile, both Marussia cars managed to outqualify the Caterhams!

  • 18:22

    The fastest three drivers in that session were Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.

  • 18:23

    Petrov looks to be having a serious word with his engineer, not a happy Russian, but he does give a grumpy wave to the camera.

  • 18:24

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: Q1 is done. #Kamui is 14th (1.38,418). #Checo came 16th (1.38,500). Not easy!

  • 18:27

    Interview with Pedro de la Rosa: "It's a lot better now, in the morning it was cold, the track temperature was very low. This afternoon we made several changes on the car, but the track temperature increased, it suits better our car."

  • 18:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 18:28

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: McLarens, Red Bulls and Ferraris set their time on Prime, all the others on Options

  • 18:29

    Rosberg, Räikkönen and Maldonado head out early for the second session.

  • 18:30

    More and more cars hit the track, as we await Kimi Räikkönen crossing the line for the first time of the session.

  • 18:31

    It's a 1:37.672 for Kimi, as just the two Red Bull and two Sauber drivers remain in the garage.

  • 18:32

    Rosberg follows Kimi across the line, but it's much slower - 1:46.

  • 18:33

    Now just the two Saubers remain in the garage, whilst Mercedes suggest the cutoff time to get into the final session will be a 1:37.2.

  • 18:34

    It's quite a field spread already, with Kimi in P1 on that 1:37, and Schumacher in 11th with a 1:48. Many are planning on doing four or five lap runs though.

  • 18:34

    All seventeen drivers out on track, busy busy once more.

  • 18:35

    Replays show Fernando Alonso closing up behind Michael Schumacher, and gesticulating as he gets held up behind him. "Unbelievable, Michael," goes the Ferrari radio.

  • 18:37

    In the meantime, Lewis Hamilton has popped up to P1 with a 1:36.795, with Webber behind him.

  • 18:37

    Massa and Maldonado have also jumped ahead of Kimi, who has only managed to improve his time by a couple of tenths of a second.

  • 18:38

    About four minutes left on the clock, Vettel goes fastest, while fellow championship contender Alonso is way down in 14th.

  • 18:38

    RadioTeam radio from Button: "Loss of power, guys, loss of power."

  • 18:39

    Button is currently ninth, but he's now crawling round the track.

  • 18:39

    Alonso crosses the line with a 1:37.1 which jumps him way up to fourth.

  • 18:39

    Button makes it back to the pitlane.

  • 18:40

    The two Red Bulls are now topping the timesheets, with Hamilton behind them. The drop zone features Di Resta, Schumacher, Senna, Vergne, Kobayashi, Rosberg and Pérez.

  • 18:41

    Button in the pits though, has lost out and dropped down to 11th. The mechanics have run out of time to fix the problem and have pushed him back into the garage.

  • 18:41

    Hamilton has also pitted, but from the much safer position of third. Paul di Resta has pitted from 12th, giving up on his session then.

  • 18:42

    Rosberg is having a second session of slowness, currently sitting 16th whilst teammate Schumacher is up in 6th.

  • 18:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 18:43

    Massa improves to second place, splitting the two Red Bulls.

  • 18:44
    Qualifying Position
    11B SennaWilliams
    12J ButtonMcLaren
    13P di RestaForce India
    14J VergneToro Rosso
    15S PérezSauber
    16K KobayashiSauber
    17N RosbergMercedes
  • 18:45

    Pérez waves to the fans as he completes his in-lap. Sauber have had a difficult session with both drivers dropping out in Q2.

  • 18:46

    Remember that poll pole I mentioned earlier? Well, it's now closed and the results are in. 50% says Vettel will be P1, Hamilton gets 27% of the votes, Webber 9%, Alonso 5% and "other" 9%.

  • 18:47

    Interview with Jenson Button: "There's a problem with the throttle, as in there's no power. That's it. It's not been the easiest, the car feels... it's so much fun to drive round here. It's the way it is sometimes but hopefully we can get it out the way for next year."

  • 18:49

    Rob Smedley is leaning right in to discuss things with Felipe Massa, he's counting things off on his fingers - a gameplan, perhaps.

  • 18:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 18:51

    Michael Schumacher heads out on track first, with the two Ferraris following him at a distance.

  • 18:53

    Three minutes gone and all ten drivers are now out on track, Nico Hülkenberg the last to leave the garage.

  • 18:54

    Early times are drifting in, with Alonso P1 momentarily, topped by both Grosjean and Maldonado. Romain currently holds the fastest time with a 1:37.227 - the rest are 1:40+

  • 18:56

    Both Grosjean and Webber on a lap at the same time, and both improving on the top times considerably. It's Webber that jumps up to P1, almost immediately knocked down by Hamilton!

  • 18:57

    All ten drivers have set a laptime now, Hamilton 1:36 and Schumacher 1:51 (more work to be done there, Schumi).

  • 18:58

    This is an unusual qualifying session, really, as all ten drivers hit the track and they've all been out the whole time so far - two minutes left to go.

  • 18:58

    Sebastian Vettel improves to P1 with a 1:35.8.

  • 18:58

    Replays show Schumacher struggling to keep control of the Mercedes and running massively wide off track. He still managed to improve to sixth though.

  • 19:00

    All ten times are sub 1:40 now, with Pastor Maldonado currently tenth just behind Massa.

  • 19:00

    Hamilton improves to second, as all eyes on Alonso as he comes towards the end of his final lap.

  • 19:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 19:01

    Alonso crosses the line seventh, which is no good at all! He is pushed down to ninth with just Maldonado behind him.

  • 19:02

    Vettel crosses the line and improves on his own time, with Hamilton storming behind him... but Lewis can't quite make it. The gap is a tenth of a second between the two.

  • 19:03
    Qualifying Position
    1S VettelRed Bull
    2L HamiltonMcLaren
    3M WebberRed Bull
    4R GrosjeanLotus
    5K RäikkönenLotus
    6M SchumacherMercedes
    7F MassaFerrari
    8N HülkenbergForce India
    9F AlonsoFerrari
    10P MaldonadoWilliams
  • 19:03

    Grosjean outqualified Kimi, but takes a five place drop to ninth. Massa also outqualified Alonso, with the pair being promoted to 6th and 8th respectively.

  • 19:05
    Gap Analysis
  • 19:11

    Interview with Martin Whitmarsh: "It was tight, in the end I think Lewis did a great lap, not quite quick enough. I thought he was going to get it during that final lap but Sebastian pulled out the last little piece in that final sector.

    "I think you would say Sebastian looks very good, but this afternoon was the closest we've been. We did a good long run on Friday. Sebastian's been consistent in qualifying, but it's got to be doable. It's not going to be easy but I think Lewis will be pretty determined on the front row tomorrow."

  • 19:12

    Thank you for joining me for qualifying today. Tomorrow's race may not be set up to be the ultimate championship decider based on the grid, you never can tell what's going to happen!

  • 19:13

    The Factbyte Factbox will be there to follow each and every lap, so I hope you will be right back here in 24 hours for the United States Grand Prix!

All content in the series USA 2012

Red Bull have shown impressive pace around the COTA so far, but there is still plenty of time for another car to shine. Vettel hasn't had it all his own way the past few days, with his car developing a water leak during the practice sessions. Reliability in these last few races will be paramount! Meanwhile, the tyres will also play a big part, with Pirelli expecting a one-stop strategy and drivers rather subdued on the possibility of overtaking. Qualifying will be crucial, particularly the battle between Vettel and Alonso.
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Event start

18:00GMT +00:00

17 November 2012