Vettel takes top time off Hamilton in first practice

2012 United States Grand Prix first practice

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Sebastian Vettel led the first practice session at the Circuit of the Americas by over a second.

His final two laps were the quickest of the session, the last putting him 1.4s clear of second-placed Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton led the way for much of the session but pitted a few laps before the end reporting a loss of grip from his front-left tyre. Fernando Alonso was third fastest for Ferrari, 2.2s slower than Vettel.

Lap times improved quickly throughout the 90 minutes of practice on the slippery track. Drivers reported very little grip when the session began.

Turn 19 was the most common scene of problems with driver after driver running wide at the corner. Vettel went off there more than once and Felipe Massa was one of several other drivers to have problems at the corner.

Nico Hulkenberg had two spins in his Force India, one of them at turn one at the top of the hill.

Ma Qing Hua was the only non-race driver to participate in the session, taking over from Narain Karthikeyan at HRT. He ended the session 1.7s slower than team mate Pedro de la Rosa.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’38.125 30
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’39.543 1.418 28
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’40.337 2.212 29
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.528 2.403 29
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.650 2.525 30
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’40.966 2.841 26
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’41.023 2.898 29
8 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.036 2.911 28
9 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.159 3.034 32
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.473 3.348 29
11 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’41.783 3.658 29
12 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.825 3.700 28
13 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.833 3.708 29
14 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’41.880 3.755 23
15 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’41.998 3.873 27
16 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’42.539 4.414 30
17 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.588 4.463 25
18 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’43.288 5.163 23
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’43.443 5.318 28
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’43.522 5.397 23
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’44.464 6.339 24
22 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’44.548 6.423 29
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’46.917 8.792 13
24 23 Ma Qing Hua HRT-Cosworth 1’48.559 10.434 19

2012 United States Grand Prix

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56 comments on Vettel takes top time off Hamilton in first practice

  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 16th November 2012, 16:45

    Races should happen on friday. Loved to watch all the drivers struggling hard in every single corner of the track…!

  2. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 16th November 2012, 16:45

    I know it’s only first practice on a brand new circuit, but wow…hopefully this isn’t a sign of a Vettel domination to come!

    I’m impressed with the circuit, sector 1 on the first lap should be fantastic! 24 cars going through those fast, flowing corners, battling for position? Yes please!

  3. Eggry (@eggry) said on 16th November 2012, 16:46

    Massive gap between drivers and teams. I think we should wait much longer…

  4. Vettel was flying at the end there! Looking forward to the rest of the weekend, hopefully pole will be fought closely!

    Did anyone else notice Crofty and Anthony Davidson going on and on about how Tilke did well with this track.. when he didn’t actually design it!

  5. semilost (@semilost) said on 16th November 2012, 16:47

    Y’all come on down! Ya’ hear!

  6. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 16th November 2012, 16:47

    Any news on what updates Ferrari have bought this weekend ?

  7. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 16th November 2012, 16:51

    I heard somewhere that Vettel did that time on options.
    Can anyone confirm or otherwise extinguish this notion?

  8. Lateralus (@lateralus) said on 16th November 2012, 16:53

    The helicopter camera shooting Fernando starting his lap then sweeping down through the esses (toward the end of the session) was a fantastic shot.

    Great track overall.

  9. That should surely be an early sign that Red Bull may walk this. Alonso looks good though for yet another podium, so the championship will undoubtably go to Brazil.

  10. Mariano (@mariano) said on 16th November 2012, 16:55

    There’s a very logical explanation about Vettel’s lap time. He used a brand new set of option tyres (green) and probably a very low fuel load. The TV showed both Webber’s and Vettel’s car arriving at their box where you could see clearly that Vettel had the option tyres in his car while Mark was still on the harder compound.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th November 2012, 16:56


      He used a brand new set of option tyres (green)

      I think what you saw there was a set of tyres which had been splashed with flow-vis paint. Green-sidewalled tyres are intermediates.

      • Mariano (@mariano) said on 16th November 2012, 17:04

        That was my impression while he was going through the race track were you could clearly see the green marks which looked like flow-vis paint. But when he arrived to his box the exterior side of the tyres where clearly green perfectly shaped as if they were the intermediates. I might be wrong of course but that was my personal impression.

      • Mariano (@mariano) said on 16th November 2012, 17:10

        Sorry, my mistake. You were aright Keith. I’ve just talked to a friend over the phone who is at the circuit and confirmed me that Vettel was using the hard compound.

        • MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 16th November 2012, 17:13

          the shot you saw at the end, in the pitlane, the tyres where inters because as he came in they practiced a pitstop and put on inters. for that lap he definetly used hards, at most it was new ones. the gap is probably because of track evoulution. and the fact that he’s awesome

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th November 2012, 16:59

    There was a curious exchange between Paul di Resta and his engineer at the end of the session. Di Resta was asked repeatedly to give his feedback on the car but said he wouldn’t do it on the radio. His engineer told him to give his feedback on the radio so the rest of the team could hear and those in factory could hear too. But Di Resta would only say he had traffic:

    I’m not sure what Di Resta’s motivation for this would be, besides perhaps wanting to keep his team mate out of the loop, but perhaps there’s a less sinister explanation?

    • Mariano (@mariano) said on 16th November 2012, 17:06

      Really strange. Can’t imagine any reason for Di resta’s comment.

    • Perhaps he doesn’t want any other teams to know about how the car is handling hence keeping them in the dark until qualifying, when it’s too late to respond?

      • I don’t know. Di Resta seems to cut a frustrated figure on the racetrack, especially when he is being outperformed by his outgoing teammate. I think it is the pressure of the British media and fans that’s getting to him, very similar to another Scot Andy Murray of tennis.

    • sumedh said on 16th November 2012, 18:10

      If he has been dumped by Force India for 2013, then that is definitely not going to be good advertisement for his prospects at other teams.
      If he is dumping Force India for another team, then he probably wants to carry information to his new team.

      Although, I feel that Mallya’s airline problems might have caught up with his racing team and he hasn’t paid Paul’s salary because of which Paul might be acting cranky.

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 16th November 2012, 18:20

      I hope Paul told him to “Seb off”. Some of these engineers seem to think they, and not the drivers, are the stars these days.

  12. JB (@) said on 16th November 2012, 17:07

    Ferrari was sandbagging…. Just before the end… Fernando set the first sector in purple and then there was a massive gap in the sencond sector…
    I guess we´ll have to wait for tomorrow to see the true pace of everyone… By the way…. I think we might have an instant “classic” on our hands! The track and the instalations look awesome!!

    I can see why the guy from texas motor speedway is worried… I can definitely see INDY cars going to COTA to race…. hehehhe

  13. So Vettel was using the hard tyres for his run? If so, that pace should be worrying (even though we don’t know fuel loads etc. obviously). He’s a good 2.5 seconds quicker than Webber as well.

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 16th November 2012, 17:23

      He’s a good 2.5 seconds quicker than Webber as well.

      That shows how little FP1 means more than anything else. Do you honestly think Vettel is actually 2.5 seconds quicker than Webber?

      • @kingshark – as I said, obviously we have no indication of fuel loads or programmes. All I am saying is it looks to be Vettel is significantly faster than Webber, I’d say in the margin of 3/4tenths a lap by an estimate (and no more). Clearly only qualifying will tell who is quickest but the signs a suggesting Vettel has pace over Webber and indeed the rest of the field. It is too early to be drawing conclusions though.

  14. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 16th November 2012, 17:15

    Why is there such a ridiculous gap between the teams and drivers? Excuse me for my lack of awareness since I wasn’t watching free practice today.

  15. Missed the session due to being in work. Tuned in at 1 point and it was HAM/VET/ALO

    Did Vettel change tyres for a last minute assault on the time sheets? Or was that at the end of a decent length stint? (praying its the former)

    Bit more pleasing though to see Alonso 3rd although being FP1 it means absolutely nothing

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