Sebastian Vettel has dominated early proceedings at the United States Grand Prix

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:38.125   30
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:39.543 + 1.418 28
3. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:40.337 + 2.212 29
4. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:40.528 + 2.403 29
5. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:40.650 + 2.525 30
6. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:40.966 + 2.841 26
7. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:41.023 + 2.898 29
8. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.036 + 2.911 28
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:41.159 + 3.034 32
10. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.473 + 3.348 29
11. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:41.783 + 3.658 29
12. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:41.825 + 3.700 28
13. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:41.833 + 3.708 29
14. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.880 + 3.755 23
15. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.998 + 3.873 27
16. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:42.539 + 4.414 30
17. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:42.588 + 4.463 25
18. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:43.288 + 5.163 23
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:43.443 + 5.318 28
20. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:43.522 + 5.397 23
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:44.464 + 6.339 24
22. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:44.548 + 6.423 29
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:46.917 + 8.792 13
24. Qing Hua Ma CHN HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:48.559 + 10.434 19

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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