US GP Practice 3: Vettel tops all three sessions

Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012.

Sebastian Vettel notched up the best time in all three free practice sessions thus far in Austin

Nov.17 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel made a clean sweep of all three United States Grand Prix practice sessions at the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Austin and sending out a signal of intent to his rivals, particularly to fellow world championship contender Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012.

With only minutes to go, with Lewis Hamilton top of the timing screens, Vettel scorched around in a time of 1 minutes 36.490 seconds, a quarter of a second up on Hamilton, who had to settle for the  next best spot. With a hat-trick of free practice sessions to his credit in Texas it would be foolish to bet against the Red Bull driver taking pole and even the race, as he has struck a rich vein of form, one of  a champion’s quality.

Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for the rest is that Vettel’s dominance was whittled down from 1.5 seconds in FP1, to 0.757 seconds in FP2 and down to 0.258 seconds in FP3.

Best of the rest was Hamilton, who may have even topped the timing sheets with his final run but for a tiny mistake in Turn 19 preventing that scenario. Nevertheless the run would have given him a glimmer  of hope.

Showing great pace, and showmanship of the highest order was Pastor Maldonado who wrung everything out of the Williams to claim third spot on the timing sheets. When the Venezuelan brings his top game, he is lightening fast and capable of fine driving.

Pastor Maldonado Williams, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday 16 November 2012.Fourth best was Fernando Alonso who has seen Vettel’s advantage over him dip from 2.2 seconds on day one to 0.690 seconds.

Felipe Massa was sixth fastest in the other Ferrari, with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg fifth quickest and splitting the reds on the timing sheets.

Almost a second down on his pace setting teammate was Mark Webber in seventh, with Sauber’s Sergio Perez emerging in eighth, ahead of ninth fastest Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, while McLaren‘s Jenson Button rounded out the top ten.

Perez continues to baffle with his antics as he was called by the FIA stewards to explain a collision with Marussia’s Charles Pic, where the Mexican tried a no brainer move on the French rookie which resulted in a spin and broken bits of car for both drivers. Perez has racked up a long list of silly, self generated incidents since he was announced as a McLaren driver for 2013.

Pole position for the inaugural grand prix at the spectacular Circuit of the Americas is Vettel’s to lose, interestingly he has only been on pole twice since the start of his remarkable turnaround in Singapore five races ago and last time out, in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton claimed the top starting slot.

An intriguing qualifying session lies in ahead…

Subbed by AJN.

United States Grand Prix Practice 3, Circuit of the Americas – Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.490 18
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.748 0.258 20
3 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.001 0.511 21
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.180 0.690 21
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.247 0.757 24
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.262 0.772 27
7 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:37.298 0.808 18
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.415 0.925 20
9 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:37.495 1.005 20
10 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.538 1.048 20
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:37.569 1.079 21
12 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:37.760 1.270 21
13 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:37.765 1.275 26
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.953 1.463 23
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.547 2.057 23
16 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.653 2.163 22
17 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:38.753 2.263 11
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:39.689 3.199 12
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:40.407 3.917 23
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:40.753 4.263 19
21 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:41.011 4.521 19
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.466 4.976 19
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:43.563 7.073 21
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:44.043 7.553 23