Sebastian Vettel has topped the timesheets in the opening session of Formula 1’s long-awaited return to the United States.
That the German finished in P1 is scarcely newsworthy anymore, but it’s the margin by which he did – 1.4 seconds! – that will send shivers down the rest of the pit lane…
Vettel finished the session a full two seconds clear of his sole championship rival, Fernando Alonso, who was third-fastest overall.
Perhaps the teams can take some comfort from the fact that the track conditions were extremely green – this being the first proper running of any description at the impressive Circuit of the Americas.
This led to plenty of spins, locked brakes and wild moments as the drivers sought to find – and often exceed – that fine line between adhesion and pure talent.
But with such expensive run-offs, as is always the case at any of Hermann Tilke’s creations in today’s Formula 1, there’s never anything to hit except for each other.
Behind the top three, Jenson Button and Mark Webber rounded out the fastest five positions ahead of Felipe Massa, Nico Hülkenberg (who spun twice during the session), Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez.
Aside from the on-the-market HRT F1 team, the rest of the grid elected to run its main driver line-up to give their runners the most opportunity to learn the brand-new circuit. The Spanish outfit’s development driver, Qing Hua Ma, was given his fourth Friday outing in the F111 and finished well off the pace.
The one area where the Chinese driver did emerge quickest was in pit lane, after he was clocked exceeding the speed limit in the final five minutes of the session, earning him a 2,000 Euro fine for his troubles.
2012 United States Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:38.125||30|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:39.543||+ 1.418||28|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:40.337||+ 2.212||29|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:40.528||+ 2.403||29|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:40.650||+ 2.525||30|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:40.966||+ 2.841||26|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:41.023||+ 2.898||29|
|8.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:41.036||+ 2.911||28|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:41.159||+ 3.034||32|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:41.473||+ 3.348||29|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:41.783||+ 3.658||29|
|12.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:41.825||+ 3.700||28|
|13.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:41.833||+ 3.708||29|
|14.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:41.880||+ 3.755||23|
|15.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:41.998||+ 3.873||27|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:42.539||+ 4.414||30|
|17.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:42.588||+ 4.463||25|
|18.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:43.288||+ 5.163||23|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:43.443||+ 5.318||28|
|20.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:43.522||+ 5.397||23|
|21.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:44.464||+ 6.339||24|
|22.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:44.548||+ 6.423||29|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:46.917||+ 8.792||13|
|24.||Qing Hua Ma||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:48.559||+ 10.434||19|
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