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)
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// Qualifying Concludes at Circuit of The Americas
A great qualifying session today at Circuit of The Americas in Austin. Hamilton and Vettel fought to the end as the Red Bull car edged out the McLaren with just over one tenth of a second between the two.
A strong penultimate qualifying lap from Vettel appeared to be enough to secure him the position. Shortly after Vettel’s fast lap, Hamilton completed his with just seconds to go in the final session. Managing only P3, Hamilton stayed out for another attempt to take pole position.
Indian Grand Prix 2012 will go down in the records as "the race in which Vettel continues his path of complete domination in the closing races of the season." Coming off of a fantastic qualifying, Vettel lead from lights to flag, replicating his win in 2011. It's a tell-tale sign on where the teams are at when we look at the grid positions at the start of the race where Red Bull had front row locked, then McLaren, then Ferrari. Clearly Red Bull has continued to fine tune their race cars, also called the "Adrian Newey car" while other teams are merely catching up. It's hard to comprehend why McLaren and Ferrari with hefty financial backing have not been able to make their race cars more competitive. Who are the weakest links in these teams that's ruining the chances for the drivers and for the teams? Is it strategy (both in qualifying and in pit stop calls) or is it the technical challenges on the car itself?
The writing is on the wall. The 2012 WDC is now down to a two-horse race after the Korean Grand Prix. Vettel and Alonso are now the frontrunners and will battle it out in the final four races for the title. Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber and Button are now trailing far behind in terms of points, wondering what could have been and knowing what will never be.
// This weekend we head to the famed Hockenheimring in the rural countryside of Germany. Here's a 3D Track Experience video from Pirelli.
Can you believe it's already the 10th race of the 2012 season? We're halfway through it, yet the season has been so action-packed that it's almost too good to be true. Continuing on with the European leg of the Grand Prix, this weekend the race will be at Hockenheim, Germany.
Mid-season is also the time when we have what I'd like to call the "Musical chair" part of the season. Top drivers talk to other top teams to explore options for next season and beyond. Hamilton is thought to have had talks with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Massa may depart Ferrari, Vettel was speculated to perhaps give Ferrari a try, and Webber was also rumored last week to want to leave Red Bull, meanwhile closing the deal with Red Bull this week. Maybe all the drivers should have 1-year contract only, that'll keep the "Musical chair" rumor mill going for the summer.
The front runner to win at Hockenheim this weekend, based purely on historical statistics, is Schumacher who has won four times at this track. Pretty impressive achievement! However, not to be outdone, Alonso and Hamilton have both won twice at this track before. I'm still holding out some hope for Iceman to win a Grand Prix and actually smile, we will have to wait and see how the race will go down this weekend. Can’t wait! Catch you again next week after the German Grand Prix!
I had high hopes for the British Grand Prix. I even brewed some good tea for the occasion, and practiced my British accents. I wanted rain on race day, plenty of overtaking, dark horse race car that comes from behind. I think I may have set the bar too high since we've been treated with so many unbelievably thrilling races so far. The British Grand Prix seemed to have paled by a lightest of shade.
That's not to say the race was not exciting. The Silverstone race certainly had its great moments - great defensive start by Alonso who was on pole, massive duel between Alonso and Hamilton on Lap 19 with Alonso making a pass on Hamilton only to have Hamilton come back in the next corner and then Alonso taking one more pass on Hamilton, and then of course, the winning pass that Webber did over Alonso at Lap 46 of the 52-Lap race to clench the very sweet victory.
Webber is the silent and stealthy driver of the season. He's been quietly scoring good points (currently 2nd in Championship standing), out qualifying more than his double-World Champion team mate Vettel, winning the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and now taking home the trophy for another iconic Grand Prix. Webber also managed to be a double winner of the Silverstone track as well as the 2nd double winner of this season. Tyres strategy played a key role in Webber's win over Alonso near the end of the race, but that should not take away from the beautiful yet aggressive way that Webber has driven in this race. Immense respect for Webber!
None of the British drivers were able to fulfill the home crowds' dream of a British driver on the top of the podium - Hamilton had no pace overall, Button was stuck way behind after qualifying 16th, and di Resta was taken out in Lap 1 since he made contact and received a puncture.
One thing to note is that McLaren's pit stops have FINALLY improved for this race. Their pit stop times have been quick and, more importantly, error-free. Hope they keep this up, every action counts in a tight race like this season.
There was also a bit of track drama that was caused by the incident between Maldonado and Perez in Lap 12 after they came out from the pit. Maldonado claimed another victim by nudging Perez off, causing both cars to spin around and ultimately an early retire for Perez. Perez had some harsh words to say to Maldonado, including juicy bits about all the drivers think Maldonado is reckless and have no respect for other drivers and for the sport. It's definitely easy to be on Perez's side when this is not the first time Maldonado brought troubles to another driver.
During the race broadcast, I spotted the Grid girl outfit. I had to do a double take because at first I thought flight attendance in red uniforms were hanging about in the grid, then I realize they are Grid girls instead. Can we get some more sass into those Grid girls outfits? I'm not looking for couture fashion, just more interesting and/or more stylish will do. What about the Best Post-race hair? This race was a tough one to call, all the podium winners' hair were pretty decent but no one stands out. I suppose if I really had to pick, Webber would be the Best post-race hair winner. I know, seems unfair for one person to win both the Grand Prix AND Best Post-race hair, but I had to keep the award as unpredictable as the race itself, it's tough work and someone has to do it!
Catch you in 2 weeks' time for the German Grand Prix 7/20 - 7/22!