In a nail-biting knock out session, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel edged past his team mate, Mark Webber, in the final seconds of qualifying to take pole position for Sunday’s race and set a new lap record of 1:36.338 to a crowd of 78,886 at Circuit of The Americas. Despite strong winds, Vettel shaved 3.009 seconds off the 3.427-mile track’s fastest race lap record of 1:39.347 (which he set in 2012) on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire. Followed shortly behind Webber in the top five were Romain Grosjean for Lotus F1 Team, Nico Hulkenberg for Sauber F1 Team, and Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Max Chilton of Marussia F1 Team will serve a drive-through penalty during the first five laps of the race for impeding Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado between Turns 19 and 20 during Qualifying. Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber F1 Team will drop 10 grid positions tomorrow for impeding Pastor Maldonado in the same location, but the FIA Stewards consider his maneuvers to be dangerous, which gives reason for the more serious reprimand.
After qualifying, Vettel admitted that he wasn't happy with the timing of his first run in Q3, but in the end he completed his final lap in 1:36.338 to edge past Webber, who was holding provisional pole with a lap time of 1:36.441. Today’s pole was Vettel’s second at Circuit of The Americas, his eighth pole so far this season, and 44th of his career.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL, INFINITI RED BULL RACING
“It’s obviously great for the team to have both cars on the front row for tomorrow. It was a tricky session as the wind had picked up quite a bit since this morning; it does influence the behavior of the car and it’s not that easy, especially in the corners, I wasn’t that happy with my first run in Q3, but I think I had a solid run at the end which was enough. It was very close with Mark, he seemed to get closer and closer as the weekend went on, so fortunately I was just able to stay ahead. I think he might have had a mistake on his final run. I’m very happy with pole position today, I like this place and the circuit and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s important to start on the clean side, so we’ll see what we can do.”
MARK WEBBER, INFINITI RED BULL RACING
“I didn’t think I had done enough on the second run in Q3, we (Seb and I) both had two shots with two sets of options. The first part of my final lap was very good, I was happy with that, but I didn’t quite get Turns 19 and 20; if I’d done what I did there initially in Q3, it would probably have been enough, but I tried to squeeze a bit more out and it’s easy to load the car a bit too much in these conditions. Sometimes you’re happy and think you’ve given your best, but today it slipped through the fingers. Well done to Seb, he put the three sectors together and I put two and a half together. I just dropped it in the last sector and it’s not satisfying when you do that, but I’m still pretty happy with second.”
Also as a side note, Mark Webber told NBC Sports that if he wins tomorrow's race, the entire city of Austin is invited out to party.
ROMAIN GROSJEAN, LOTUS
“It’s not been the easiest weekend in terms of finding the right balance with the car, so to be third on the grid is a good result. We managed to go through Q1 on the hard tyre which was not the plan initially, but it was a nice surprise and gave us options for the two following sessions. It’s great for the team to have Heikki [Kovalainen] in the top ten too - especially with Mercedes and Ferrari struggling a little bit - as we’re still fighting them hard in the Constructors’ Championship, so hopefully we can score good points with both cars tomorrow. Sebastian [Vettel] and Mark [Webber] were very quick today, but of course we’ll do our best to round up the bulls in the race; we are in Texas after all!”
Will the reigning four-time F1 champ win his eighth straight grand prix win this season set the record for most consecutive wins in a grand prix season? There’s only one way to find out, and the show starts at 1:00PM tomorrow in Austin, Texas!