United States GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Vettel sets stunning Austin pace

Sebastian Vettel, United States GP 2012

Sebastian Vettel, United States GP 2012 

 © The Cahier Archive

Sebastian Vettel topped the first session of free practice for the United States Grand Prix by almost a second and a half as drivers initially struggled with lack of grip on the new circuit in Austin.

Vettel set a 1m38.125s benchmark lap time at the end of the session to take the top spot from Lewis Hamilton's McLaren (1:39.543) and championship rival Fernando Alonso's Ferrari (1:40.337). With grip levels sure to evolve as the weekend develops and drivers yet to go onto the option (medium) Pirelli tyre, Vettel's first session time gave the new track an average lap speed of 126.66mph.

Jenson Button's McLaren set fourth quickest lap (1:40.528), ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull (1:40.650), Felipe Massa's Ferrari (1:40.966) and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India (1:41.023) which was seventh quickest after the German suffered a couple of spins.

Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber (1:41.036), Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:41.159) and Sergio Perez's Sauber (1:41.473) completed the top 10.

Although Friday programmes invariably differ team-to-team, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were further down than might have been expected, 14th and 15th for Lotus, while Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna were 16th and 22nd respectively for Williams. Charles Pic, meanwhile, did an impressive job to put the first Marussia 18th.


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