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Vettel Edges Past Webber to Claim Second USGP Pole

Vettel Edges Past Webber to Claim Second USGP Pole

In the final seconds of qualifying of the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, Sebastian Vettel of Infiniti Red Bull Racing beats his team mate Mark Webber by .003 seconds to claim his second consecutive pole position in Austin, Texas. (Image credit: by courtesy of Pirelli)

Heavy Fog Delays Action at USGP

Heavy Fog Delays Action at USGP

Friday's practice sessions at Circuit of The Americas started under foggy conditions, but they eventually cleared out for an exciting first day back on track in Austin, Texas. Photo: Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber F1 Teamtests out the track. (Image by courtesy of Pirelli.)

Race Review: Singapore Grand Prix

 

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 23, 2012 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Another race, another shake up on the championship leaderboard. However, as unpredictable as the races have been, a pattern is emerging - Alonso on podium. Alonso may not win the number one spot, but he somehow always manages to get on to the podium.

How did it go down at the Singapore GP? It started with qualifying: Hamilton, after a perfect flying lap, landed the pole position. Trailing behind Hamilton in qualifying was Maldonado the Dangerous, then Vettel. Notice that Alonso is not even top 3 in Qualifying; he was P5.

With Maldonado's record, I was expecting a good battle at the front part of the grid at the start of the race. Hamilton defended his pole from Maldonado and got a clean getaway, while Vettel's slick maneuver got him ahead of Maldonado, and then Button also took a run on Maldonado and passed the Williams driver to take the 3rd position. It is as if a different Maldonado was in the Williams car altogether; where is his usual aggressive drive?

The Marina Bay Street circuit is notoriously difficult track to overtake - a car needs to be a few seconds ahead to overtake, which means tyres and pit stop strategy were paramount in giving a driver the advantage to get ahead. With 61 laps in the race, the most sensible way to manage is a two-stop strategy, which most cars opted for. In terms of tyres, the soft was more durable than the supersoft so most teams were trying to get the drivers to squeeze as much drive as possible from the soft tyres.

Hamilton's pit stop at lap 13 was incredibly fast at 2.9 sec, paired with his quick pace throughout the laps, he looked unbeatable in winning the race. However, it was not his day. In an unlikely turn of events, Hamilton's McLaren had a gearbox failure at lap 23, leaving him with a car but no drive. I would have thrown a hissy fit, but Hamilton handled it with unusual calmness, perhaps he was thinking this is a sign for him to leave McLaren and move to Mercedes.

Shortly after Hamilton's gutting moment, Maldonado's car also suffered an untimely end at lap 35. It's most unfortunate to see two cars that were on front rows on the grid that would likely battle out to the bitter end both retire early.

As most anticipated, the safety car made not one, but two, appearances at the Singapore GP. The safety car came out at Lap 34 when Karthikeyan crashed out, and at Lap 40 when Schumacher crashed into Vergne. The safety car rounds took quite a while, such that the race timed out and concluded at the 2-hour mark rather than completion of 61 laps.

Without a truly heated battle up at the front with Hamilton and Maldonado out, we end the race with Vettel, Button, and Alonso moving into podium for top 3. Alonso still leads the championship with Vettel now trailing in 2nd and Raikkonen in 3rd place. Who did you think will have the best drive at the Japanese GP on October 7th?

Race Review: Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton takes a commanding lead at Monza (Image by HOCH ZWEI)// Monza

It's hard to see straight across the sea of red. The most passionate, brilliant red reserved for the most famous automobile brand with a horse was all over the grandstands at the Italian Grand Prix. Everywhere around the tracks, there were red Ferrari flags, red shirts, red hats, red hair wigs, like I said, sea of red. Massive crowds of fans gathered at Monza to watch the Italian Grand Prix unfold. And Monza did not disappoint!

At the qualifying, odds on favorite Alonso did very well until he had a mechanical problem, Massa capitalized on that and qualified ahead of Alonso to land at P3 while Alonso had to settle with P10. Hamilton and Button took over the front row of the grid with tremendous drives. Red Bulls were less than stellar at P5 for Vettel and P11 for Webber.

The 1st Lap is always exciting to watch. Hamilton defended his position right away from Button but it was Massa who surged ahead, passed Button then went side by side with Hamilton, though ultimately not able to pass. Alonso, incredibly have gone up from 10th to 6th by Lap 2. There was no stopping Hamilton though, he did a flawless drive and converted his pole to a 3rd win this season.

Perez qualified P12 but stealthily climbed up the positions. He started with the hard tyres, stayed out as long as he could until Lap 29 (!!) and switched to soft tyres after pit stop. This was a brilliant tyres strategy from the Sauber team. Hedid some great overtaking throughout, and with fresher soft tyres near the latter part of the race, he was easily passing other drivers to take home 2nd spot. Perez is definitely a rising star. Some even rumored that he may be take Massa's spot for 2013!

There was a bit of tit for tat playing out between Vettel and Alonso at Lap 26. Last year at Monza, Vettel tried to pass Alonso at one point and wasn't able to make the pass stick, but got slightly wide as Alonso tried to claim the racing line. This move left Vettel with 2 wheels on the grass at high speed. This year, some are calling this a revenge move from Vettel, Alonso tried to pass Vettel at the exact same spot but Vettel didn't leave enough room for Alonso, and made Alonso slid onto the grass on all wheels. As if he's expecting this, Alonso got on team radio immediately to complain about Vettel's move which subsequently got Vettel a drive through penalty. Innocent driving incident or premeditated revenge? We'll never know.

In the end, it didn't matter for Vettel. Both Red Bulls had mechanical issues that caused neither of Vettel or Webber to finish the race. Vettel had mechanical problem and had to stop on the grass at Lap 47, meanwhile Webber flat spotted at Lap 51 and got called in by the team to retire before damaging the car. With a 53-Lap race, to retire at Lap 51 is entirely too painful. It's been a very long time since Red Bull had a double retirement. Are reliability issues rearing its ugly head at Red Bull again? Tell us what’s up, Adrian Newey!

Other drivers with misfortunes include Button, Hulkenberg and Vergne. Button had a fuel pickup issue with his car and had to roll onto grass and retire at Lap 32. Hulkenberg also had car problems and retired at Lap 50. Vergne was out much earlier at Lap 9 getting airborne (and then back down) as a result of spinning out.

All of drama and retirement did not distract Alonso though, who never for a moment gave up with P10, but hustled all the way to land at 3rd spot on the podium. This is an important win for Alonso with him not scoring any points at Spa last weekend and Hamilton taking the most points by winning this race.

We wrap up the race with Alonso leading the championship (still), Hamilton is now 2nd, and Raikkonen 3rd. What a shake up!

The next race will be at Singapore on 9/21 - 9/23. This is one of my favorite tracks to watch - night race, street circuit, Singapore skyline and landmarks as backdrop, not a dull moment. Catch you then!

BOOK REVIEW: GRAND PRIX YESTERDAY & TODAY

 

GRAND PRIX YESTERDAY & TODAY

By Bruce Jones

Published by: Carlton Books

ISBN: 978 1 84732 592 1

Price: $25.00

 

// Review

Consisting of just six chapters over its 192 pages, this uniquely constructed hardback could be a little confusing, with the manner by which the years are reported, which is decidedly haphazard through its content. It is not that the detail is uninteresting, because the innumerable photographs (many of which have never been seen in print before), in both monotone and full colour, help to lift fascination levels.

However, dotting random years into the page headings creates an unhappy imbalance. Yet, the subjects covered are similarly random, dating back to Grand Prix’s 1906 beginnings up to the end of 2010. If the evolution of motor racing is of personal interest, you will find this book serves purpose rather well.

Strangely, for such a well-regarded writer and author, Bruce Jones, a tall chap renowned for his shock of red hair, who can often be spotted strutting most assuredly through pit lanes and paddocks around the world, appears to have tackled this book with a stream of consciousness. He is a talented scribe, of that fact there is no doubt, yet this book can prove challenging on first read and, unless you are in the mood for such variance, it can become a major ‘switch off’. Even so, the contents are incontestably excellent and I would suggest that you persevere with it.