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Vettel denies Webber pole with stunning qualifying display

Nov 16, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT

Sebastian Vettel has given himself the best possible chance of winning for the first time in the United States by securing pole position for tomorrow’s race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

Red Bull dominated qualifying once again, but Mark Webber posed a stiff challenge to his teammate, and forced Vettel into producing a remarkable final lap to secure pole position as both Ferrari and Mercedes failed to bother the constructors’ champions.

Conditions had changed slightly in Austin from the final practice session with the temperature rising and the wind picking up slightly. The drivers hoped that the extra heat would aid their tires, but the backmarkers went for the softer compound as usual. Red Bull pulled their usual stunt of waiting in the pits for a while, allowing Max Chilton to post the first time and enjoy a few seconds at the top of the timesheets before Paul di Resta displaced him. Fernando Alonso was the first front runner to move to the front of the field, but Lewis Hamilton complained that he was struggling for grip before going half a second faster than his former teammate. Nico Hulkenberg was also surprised to find that his brakes had been changed without being informed, telling the team that it was “shocking”. With the track improving rapidly, it became a question of timing. Both Webber and Vettel eventually emerged from the pits on the hard tire as the rest of the field pitted and fitted mediums. The Red Bulls soon rose up to P1 and P2 – Webber ahead of Vettel – believing that it was enough to ensure a place in Q2. Valtteri Bottas eventually finished quickest on the medium tire ahead of Hamilton and Gutierrez, with the latter coming under investigation for blocking. However, Ferrari came under pressure in the final few minutes of the session, but Pastor Maldonado failed to improve and dropped out in eighteenth place, whilst Adrian Sutil was forced to stop out on track and came seventeenth as a result, with both drivers joining the usual suspects at the back of the grid.

Q2 got off to a quick start as a number of drivers went out early on with the medium tires fitted as Jean-Eric Vergne posted the first time of the session for Toro Rosso. However, Valtteri Bottas continued his good form to go third-fastest early on, just 0.035 seconds shy of Hamilton’s time at the top. Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta went closer still, but it was not until Romain Grosjean’s effort that was half a second quicker that the Briton was displaced. Mark Webber went faster still with his first effort, but Bottas and Alonso responded to move within a tenth of the Red Bull. Vettel soon resumed normal service to go quickest of all, but Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa all found themselves in the dropzone. Kovalainen was able to improve and get into Q3 on debut for Lotus, but Button and Massa were less fortunate. Nico Rosberg was also struggling and ended up in fourteenth place, whilst both Toro Rosso drivers and Paul di Resta were also eliminated.

Surprise package Valtteri Bottas got Q3 underway, but he only went for an exploratory lap before returning to the pits. However, Red Bull bucked the trend of leaving it late with both Webber and Vettel heading out early. However, Webber’s first effort was over one-tenth of a second faster than Vettel’s, giving him provisional pole. Romain Grosjean was their nearest challenger at first over one second back before the rest of the runners finally emerged from the pits. Webber managed to go faster still to enjoy provisional pole, and with Vettel losing time, he appeared to have it in the bag. However, Vettel proved his four-time world champion credentials to pull out a brilliant final sector and secure his second pole position in Austin.

Romain Grosjean finished ‘best of the rest’ in third, seven-tenths down on Webber, whilst Nico Hulkenberg performed brilliantly to finish in fourth place. Lewis Hamilton could only finish fifth ahead of Alonso, whilst Sergio Perez delighted his home fans in seventh place. Kovalainen did well on debut to end up eighth, whilst Bottas and Gutierrez both seemed pleased with their top ten positions in ninth and tenth respectively.

It may have been Webber’s for the taking, but Vettel’s final lap was simply remarkable to stop his teammate from taking a third pole position in four races. Now, the German driver will be looking to win for the first time in the US and make it eight wins in a row.

  1. worknman24hours - Nov 16, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Congrats to Vettel and Red Bull for pulling out pole at the very last instant.

    On note though.

    This might be because of the oddities of the world video feed.

    It looked like Vettel’s pole winning time popped up on screen before he crossed the finish line on screen.

    Like I said, that video signal might be bouncing between thirteen countries before we see it.

  2. dokeefe1313 - Nov 16, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    you folks at NBC are COMPLETE IDIOTS. you didn’t cover F1 qualifying live. you delayed the tape delayed broadcast for 30 minutes for CURLING. then you showed Q3, went to commercial, and came back to Vettle geting out of his car after winning the pole. F*&^ YOU.

    • h2odiehard - Nov 17, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I cant believe they did this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The 1 time they come to America a year and they don’t show qualifying with no way to view it!!! Skipping all of q3 then having the gull to tell us how exciting it was bvy writing it above!!!!!!!!! Would have loved to see it!!!!!!!!! Obviously the person that made this decision is the same guy to hire Diffy! What a bone head move that was too!!
      Please reshow qualy you idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. oneguyu2 - Nov 16, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    NBC Sports:
    I can understand delaying broadcasting qualification until more into prime time. However, two major issues:
    1. Flashing the results on the ticker at the bottom prior to showing the broadcast – some of us don’t like to know the results before watching.
    2. I understand the delayed start by 1/2 hour due to the previous live event running long. However, why did the broadcast go from the middle of Q2 commercial break (which is normal) to suddenly showing Vettel pulling into the pit lane at the end of Q3!? For better or worse, qualifying has become one of the most exciting aspects of F1, and your coverage here in the US completely skipped the most exciting part of that! If you absolutely had to cut the time because of the late start, why not cut Q1?
    You took what should have been an enjoyable viewing experience and gutted it.

  4. Jeff - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Go Vettel!

  5. jaimemulemas - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I’ve been pretty happy with the coverage this year on NBC — a couple of times things were delayed instead of live but with the time differences, I can understand that. But today, with the race on US soil, I was expecting not just LIVE coverage, but better coverage. And I was screwed on two counts. First, it wasn’t live and then they edit out the balance of Q2 and all of Q3 which, apparently, was AMAZING but we, at least on the west coast, didn’t get to see it. And because of what? The hot and heavy curling action? Please forgive me, but I hope more people are interested in F1 than curling and, in any event, they have the Olympics to look forward to in a few months!
    To quote an earlier comment, “You took what should have been an enjoyable viewing experience and gutted it.”

    I now wish that F1 had remained on SpeedTV!!!

    • h2odiehard - Nov 17, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      The most dissappointing part of this year has been not showing q3 at THE ONLY US GRAND PRIX!!!
      Second most is listening to Diffy!! Bring Back Bob Varsha!!!!

  6. dokeefe1313 - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    they don’t care. they don’t know ANYTHING about racing. they relate well to the curling stones i guess….

  7. packard2352 - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    If I wanted to simply find who qualified where I would have gone online. BUT !!! Great track crew cut off at the knees by an less than competent network crew…..

  8. cletuscat - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Registered just so I can post this…. NBC Sports can BITE ME!! I am kicking myself for not being able to go to Austin… Hoping that watching at home would at least give me some comfort… Imagine my disgust when the qualifying coverage skips from mid q2 to the end of q3!!! I demand an apology during tomorrow’s broadcast and an explanation!

  9. racerphotog - Nov 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Qualifying was on CNBC live! I watched all of Q1, Q2, and Q3… I didn’t miss a thing. Even watched FP3 on the internet. Read the schedule in the article and you miss a thing.

    • worknman24hours - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      What I saw on CNBC started several minutes after qualifying had already started with no announcer build up to the event before hand.

    • oneguyu2 - Nov 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      I must admit, I didn’t consider looking at CNBC for qualifying. Judging from other comments, most people didn’t, either. Other than on NBC proper, the practices and races are on the NBCSports, not their news channel.
      Next time, I’ll check the CNBC schedule, too. Thanks.

  10. worknman24hours - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I did like Diffy’s comment about how hard it is to show the elevation changes this track has from tv.

    Formula One needs to rethink the —show the cars from a satellite in space—- camera angle and get the cameras down to the track and get the viewers right next to the action again-WITH the blasting sound of the cars as they go by.

    Get us so close the cars blow the blinds up in the room as they go past on the tv.

  11. zellersark - Nov 17, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    So you cut from warm up laps in Q2 to the weigh-ins. What can we look forward to for the race tomorrow? Maybe special 1 hour pre-race show and then cut to curling trials and the race winner on the crawl. Awesome.

  12. dokeefe1313 - Nov 17, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    nbc. if you don’t want to provide DECENT coverage of Formula One events why don’t you give the contract to some agency that CARES about it’s customers.

  13. mackam1988 - Nov 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Well done all at CBS sports.
    It’s about time the exciting spectacle that is curling got the respect and recognition it so richly deserves.
    As an insomniac I can thank you for taking me from the edge of seat over US grand prix qualifying to peaceful slumber in two minutes flat.
    Oh I also heard that you chopped of part of Q2 and all of Q3.
    Once again,keep up the lame work.It’s nice to know where F1 comes in the pecking order of broadcast hierarchy.

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