Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has swept the three FIA Formula One Championship practice sessions on the newly built Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The two-time defending champion could seal up the title on Sunday. Fernando Alonso hopes differently as he and the Ferrari team sticks to their planned strategy from day one!
Now they prepare for the inaugural pole position. However they have contenders that are coveting the main slot on front row start. Mark Webber has shown his hot laps in his Red Bull-Renault, and he can steal the pole out of his own teammate’s hands.
The return of a United States Grand Prix has seen some of the drivers have on-track spins and off-track visits which included landing in the gravel. Two drivers who continue to praise the circuit designer, Hermann Tilke, are Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Ironically it has not been an easy go for the McLaren teammates since Hamilton announced he was moving to Mercedes next year.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap yet again in the final practice at the Circuit of The Americas on Saturday morning, but this time the gap to his closest opposition was only 0.258s - and that came in the form of Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren.
The Englishmen have shown their speed on the 3.425 miles (5.513kms), 20-turn circuit. They each want to earn the first Formula One pole today. In the final pre-qualifying practice earlier, Hamilton placed his McLaren-Mercedes 0.258 of a second off the pace of Vettel.
McLaren boys’ full concentration, like their rivals, will be focused on standing on the top step of Sunday’s podium – which makes one wonder, will the pole winner be gifted with a real cowboy 10-gallon hat during their photo shoot? And if not today, perhaps on Sunday?
Of course one of the other team drivers can sneak in for the pole today. One cannot count out Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus-Renault or Nico Rosberg for the Mercedes team. No can one ignore Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who has been strong since his contract was renewed. One cannot count out Williams-Renault’s Pastor Maldonado or Sauber-Ferrari’s Sergio Perez as both have shown already this year that they are contenders.
The true surprise will be if Michael Schumacher takes the pole!
One thing is certain; qualifying will definitely have its exciting moments with every team and driver wanting to make it into the record books as the first Formula One pole winner in Austin on the Circuit of The Americas.