United States GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Guess Who Qualified Third
Guess who qualified third for the United States Grand Prix? It was easy to predict that Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber would grid first and second, but not so easy to guess who would start third. It ended up being Romain Grosjean who was third fastest in his Lotus ahead of a fleet Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius.)
Max Chilton got things going in his Marussia. He was first on the track and first to set a time with a 1:47.022.
4 minutes into the session, Nico Hulkenberg turned a 1:43.698. But many drivers were setting times now, and Valtteri Bottas shot to the top after posting a 1:39.825 in his Williams.
6 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) beat that with a 1:39.658. The Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber remained in the pits.
8 minutes into the session, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) went to the top with a 1:39.153. Moments later Bottas beat that with a 1:38.773
10 minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean turned a 1:38.676 in his Lotus.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Webber headed out.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel joined him.
The top teams all had their drivers on the hard compound Pirellis.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Webber clocked a 1:38.493 to take over first place. Every driver except Grosjean was on the track at this time. Vettel crossed the line with a time of 1:38.516.
Some of the drivers were now on the medium compound including Jean-Eric Vergne who moved into sixth with a time of 1:38.88 in his Toro Rosso.
Back at the front, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was now fastest with a 1:37.959 on the medium tires with 2 minutes remaining in the session. Esteban Gutierrez was second after turning a 1:38.082 in his Sauber.
In the final seconds Bottas claimed the top spot with a 1:37.821.
Hamilton, Gutierrez, Webber, Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez (McLaren), Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), Vettel, Jenson Button (McLaren) and Grosjean rounded out the top 10
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Adrian Sutil (whose Force India stopped out on the track), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Guido van der Garde (Caterham), Jules Bianchi, Charles Pic (Caterham) and Chilton.
Vergne was the first out for the 15 minute Q2. He turned a 1:38.696. Moments later his teammate Daniel Ricciardo set a 1:38.804.
But Hamilton and Bottas easily beat that with a 1:38.104 and a 1:38.140 respectively.
The drivers were using the medium compound Pirellis with the white sidewalls.
With 9 minutes remaining in the session, Paul di Resta moved his Force India into second place after clocking a 1:38.139.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel and Webber had yet to post a time.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, the Red Bull boys were on track while Perez grabbed second with a 1:38.116.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, Grosjean went fastest with a 1:37.523.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Webber beat that with a 1:37.312.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) grabbed second but that became third as Vettel took top honors with a 1:37.065.
Nobody went quicker in the lead group, but there were changes in the order behind them and so the top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Bottas, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Gutierrez, Perez and Kovalainen.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Ricciardo, di Resta, Button, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Vergne.
And so it was on to Q3 that would determine the top 10 grid places for the United States Grand Prix.
Once again, the drivers were on the softer of the two Pirelli compounds.
Perez was the first to make a run, clocking a 1:38.074. Webber beat that with a 1:36.699,
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel took second place with a 1:36.851 while Grosjean was third with a 1:37.976.
Bottas, Alonso, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez did not go out for the first round of runs.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Bottas, Hamilton and Hulkenberg took to the track. Then Alonso and Gutierrez headed out as well.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, all 10 drivers were on the circuit.
Bottas took third behind Webber and Vettel.
Then, in the waning seconds, Webber improved to a 1:36.441. Grosjean got up to third and Hulkenberg fourth. And then Vettel crossed the line to grab the pole with a time of 1:36.338.
So it was a Red Bull front row, while the second row consisted of Grosjean and Hulkenberg. Hamilton, Alonso, Perez, Kovalainen, Bottas and Gutierrez rounded out the top 10.