Tag Archives: prix

New footage of Webber cutting up Vettel in dangerous move AFTER the race. Watson says ban Vettel

Fresh footage shows fuming Webber cutting up Red Bull team-mate Vettel in dangerous move after Malaysia mayhem

By
Phil Duncan

PUBLISHED:

13:23 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

15:34 GMT, 25 March 2013

Dramatic new footage has emerged revealing just how serious the feud is between Red Bull team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber after the Australian pulled a shockingly dangerous maneouvre after the Malaysian Grand Prix had finished.

Red Bull are in turmoil today after Vettel ignored their clear instruction not to challenge Webber at the climax of the race, and the German was forced to issue an apology for undermining the order which has left his colleague considering his Formula One future.

VIDEO: Scroll down to watch the astonishing footage

Chequered flag: Sebastian Vettel slows down after crossing the finishing line in Malaysia

Chequered flag: Sebastian Vettel slows down after crossing the finishing line in Malaysia

Who's that coming up Mark Webber's car zooms into the corner of the camera

Who's that coming up Mark Webber's car zooms into the corner of the camera

Dangerous: Webber steers into the path of Vettel at a furious pace as the German slows down

Dangerous: Webber steers into the path of Vettel at a furious pace as the German slows down

Best of enemies: Webber then speeds off into the distance leaving Red Bull red-faced

Best of enemies: Webber then speeds off into the distance leaving Red Bull red-faced

New footage reveals just how angry
Webber was in the aftermath of the race as he dangerously cuts across
Vettel at high speed to display his fury, only missing his team-mates
car by a matter of inches.

Former McLaren driver John Watson, a
winner of five grands prix, believes Red Bull must take immediate action
against their three-time world champion.

‘The question is, what are the team
going to do to sanction Sebastian Vettel And the only solution I would
find is suspending him for next grand prix,’ Watson told BBC Radio 4.

Dangerous: Mark Webber (left) swerved in front of Sebastien Vettel to show his anger

Dangerous: Mark Webber (left) swerved in front of Sebastien Vettel to show his anger

Punishment: Sebastian Vettel deserves a one-race ban, claims John Watson

Leading the way: Webber was ahead of Vettel until his team-mate's late surge

Leading the way: Webber was ahead of Vettel until his team-mate's late surge

VIDEO: Watch Webber's dangerous move

Out of options: Watson says a fine would do nothing and removing the points is not viable

Out of options: Watson says a fine would do nothing and removing the points is not viable

‘You can’t take the points away from
him and give them to Mark Webber, a fine would be irrelevant, so the
only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say “you will stand out
one race”.’

‘I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired.’

Red Bull cancelled their victory photo
in the aftermath of yesterday’s controversy while it has been reported
that Webber needed to be persuaded to participate in the podium
ceremony.

Usurped: Mark Webber would have won the race had Vettel not disobeyed team orders

Usurped: Mark Webber would have won the race had Vettel not disobeyed team orders

Watson says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner must take action or risk his position being undermined by Vettel.

‘If Christian Horner doesn’t reassert his authority in the team – because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel yesterday – then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be,’ added Watson.

‘The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix.’

Australian Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen storms to victory

Raikkonen delivers for Lotus as he storms to victory in Melbourne curtain raiser while Hamilton finishes fifth in Mercedes debut

PUBLISHED:

07:36 GMT, 17 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 17 March 2013

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen stormed to victory in the Australian Grand Prix in his best race on the Melbourne circuit for six years.

Fernando Alonso came in second while Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes.

Jenson Button finished a disappointing ninth for McLaren, while Sebastian Vettel came third for Red Bull.

Scroll down for leaderboard

Triumphant: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates after winning the first race of the season

Triumphant: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates after winning the first race of the season

1-2-3: Raikkonen (centre) celebrates with second-placed Fernando Alonso (left) and third-placed Sebastian Vettel

1-2-3: Raikkonen (centre) celebrates with second-placed Fernando Alonso (left) and third-placed Sebastian Vettel

Party time: The long wait for F1 fans was over at last as the season kicked off in style

Party time: The long wait for F1 fans was over at last as the season kicked off in style

Cruising: Raikkonen drives through the pit lane after driving the fastest lap of the race and securing victory

Cruising: Raikkonen drives through the pit lane after driving the fastest lap of the race and securing victory

Finnish driver Raikkonen took the lead for good on lap 43 of 58 in a race which had seven different leaders.

Speaking on the podium, he said: ‘I was pretty
confident before the race. I thought it should be easy to do it.

‘I got a good start and it worked well. I had doubts because
it is the first race and I didn't do any long runs in the winter. But you have
to get through the first laps and go from there.

‘Fernando was catching me at some point so I just wanted to
make sure if the rain comes we have a big gap.

On song: Finnish driver Raikkonen of Lotus led the way in the Melbourne Grand Prix

On song: Finnish driver Raikkonen of Lotus led the way in the Melbourne Grand Prix

No cigar: Fernando Alonso ran Raikkonen close but could not beat his rival

No cigar: Fernando Alonso ran Raikkonen close but could not beat his rival

Down the rankings: Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes

Down the rankings: Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes

Hamilton

‘I was still taking it pretty easy. It was a pretty nice
race. Not too difficult.’

Lotus suggested during winter testing they had taken a step forward from last season, and they underlined that around Melbourne's Albert Park as Raikkonen took the chequered flag for the 20th time in his F1 career.

More to follow.

Holy smokes: Cars lock up their brakes as they approach the first corner of the Albert Park circuit

Holy smokes: Cars lock up their brakes as they approach the first corner of the Albert Park circuit

Frustration: Jenson Button drives in front of Mark Webber but neither driver will be happy with their finish

Frustration: Jenson Button drives in front of Mark Webber but neither driver will be happy with their finish

The gang's all here: The drivers pose for a group shot before the race

The gang's all here: The drivers pose for a group shot before the race

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Australian Grand Prix 2013: All you need to know about the 2013 race in Melbourne

Australian Grand Prix guide: All you need to know about the 2013 race in Melbourne

pole position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1min 24.922secs

2012 winner: Jenson Button (McLaren)

2012 fastest lap: Jenson Button 1min 29.187s

Number of corners: 16 (6 left/10 right)

Winning start: Jenson Button won last year's Australian Grand Prix

Winning start: Jenson Button won last year's Australian Grand Prix

Winning start: Jenson Button won last year's Australian Grand Prix

Winning start: Jenson Button won last year's Australian Grand Prix

Tyre compounds to be used: supersoft/medium

Bumpiness: medium

Overtaking chance: low

Engine severity: high

Brake wear severity: high

Average lap speed: 200kph (124.274mph)

Full throttle per lap: 71 per cent

Gear changes per lap: 54 (race = 3132)

2012 winning strategy: 2 stops (laps 16, 36)

2012 total race pit stops: 41

2012 total 'normal' overtakes: 22

2012 total DRS overtakes: 12

Number of safety car deployments over last 10 years: 13

Congrats: Lewis Hamilton (right) has since changed teams to Mercedes

Congrats: Lewis Hamilton (right) has since changed teams to Mercedes

On 11 occasions from 17 Australian Grands Prix, the winning driver at Albert Park has gone on to become world champion.Pole position has accounted for eight of the 17 winners of this race, with six in the last nine years.The lowest starter to win was Eddie Irvine, who started 11th for Ferrari in 1999.Jenson Button has won three times in the last four years, leaving him one victory shy of equalling Michael Schumacher's record of four wins achieved in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004.The demise of HRT returns F1 to a 22-car grid for the first time since early in 2008. During that season the withdrawal of Super Aguri after four rounds reduced it to 20. It expanded to 24 in 2010.Kimi Raikkonen has now had 17 consecutive results in the points. Only Michael Schumacher (24), Sebastian Vettel (19) and Fernando Alonso (18) can boast a longer run.Red Bull start the season aiming for their fourth consecutive constructors' title. Only one team in F1 history has achieved the feat – Ferrari, with six, from 1999-2004.Sebastian Vettel also goes for his fourth consecutive crown, an achievement previously accomplished by just two other drivers – Juan Manuel Fangio (1954-57) and Schumacher (2000-2004).

Peter Charles and Nick Skelton defeated in FEI World Cup qualifier

Charles and Skelton still riding high despite defeat

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 22 December 2012

British Olympic heroes Peter Charles and Nick Skelton just missed out on the perfect climax to an unforgettable year when they were pipped for glory in the FEI World Cup qualifier at Olympia.

The Netherlands' Marc Houtzager thwarted home hopes by claiming the 30,000 first prize and gaining some revenge for his Olympic heartache.

Top form: Marc Houtzager rides Sterrehof's Tamino

Top form: Marc Houtzager rides Sterrehof's Tamino

Houtzager was a member of the Dutch team beaten to the Olympic gold after a nerve-shredding jump-off by the British quartet of Charles, Skelton, Ben Maher and Scott Brash at Greenwich Park less than five months ago.

Malin Baryard-Johnsson of Sweden finished second yesterday with Charles, riding a recent addition to his string, Murka's Odie de Frevent, third and Skelton fourth aboard his Olympic mount Big Star.

Charles flew the British flag with one of only three double clear rounds despite his performance coming just three months after he underwent surgery on his groin.

'I have been off for a long time and this was the horse's first proper grand prix,' Charles said.

Best of British: Peter Charles on Odie de Frevent

Best of British: Peter Charles on Odie de Frevent

'The course was plenty big enough today and you certainly needed a very quick horse towards the end of the course.'

Charles, though, admitted that his partnership with Odie de Frevent remains in its infancy.

He added: 'I am still trying out new bits with the horse. I don't know how fully I can go with her, but I think I will run her in the grand prix tomorrow.'

Then, reflecting on an unforgettable season, Charles, who will be 53 on New Year's Day, added: 'This year has been what dreams are made of.

'I didn't think I was going to be fit enough to ride at this show. To do that today was really nice.'

Hamilton: Who knows when I"ll have the chance to win again? I"m going to have to drive the nuts of the car

Hamilton: Who knows when I'll have the chance to win again I'm going to have to drive the nuts off the car

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UPDATED:

23:06 GMT, 24 November 2012

With rain forecast to sweep across
the famous old Interlagos Circuit, Lewis Hamilton intends his farewell
drive for McLaren to be a dramatic spectacle from pole position.

For he admits that he cannot truthfully predict when he might next have the opportunity to win a Grand Prix.

His father, Anthony, will be with him
on the grid, the last to shake his hand before Hamilton is left to the
stillness of being alone in a car designed to fit him like a second
skin; a car in which he majestically won his fourth race of the year
last weekend, the 21st Grand Prix victory of his career.

On pole: Lewis Hamilton after qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix

On pole: Lewis Hamilton after qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix

'I don't know when I'm next going to have a car that will be as competitive as the one I have,' said Hamilton last night.

'So, I'm going to drive the nuts off it here.'

For Hamilton, the Brazilian Grand Prix provides the chance to put his name on the winners' board at the last classic, old world circuit he has yet to conquer, having already won at Silverstone, Monaco, Monza and Spa.

If it is wet, he will remember with fondness his British Grand Prix triumph in blinding rain four years ago.

'That was wicked,' he said with a smile. 'Every time I made it through Abbey, when other drivers were spinning and aqua-planing off the road, the crowd stood up to cheer. It's a cherished memory.

On the road again: Lewis Hamilton in action

On the road again: Lewis Hamilton in action

'I've never won here and it would be so special to do it now. This is where Ayrton Senna is from and near where he is laid to rest, and he is the guy I still believe was the best of all time.'

Hamilton has a feeling for motor racing history. He is a purist who, despite the controversies he has created, will always drive with courage and commitment.

Yet, when his work is completed, he knows he will have raced for the final time for the team that has been at the heart of his life for the past 14 years.He can only guess how emotional he will feel.

'I am sure coming across the line for the last time it will really, really hit me then,' he said.

Hamilton, however, could not be more content, or more certain that signing for Mercedes, a team with one win in the past three years, is the correct move to enhance his career.

Communication breakdown: Lewis Hamilton with McLaren boss Ross Brawn

Communication breakdown: Lewis Hamilton with McLaren boss Ross Brawn

'I am in a good place, and no matter what happens this weekend, I'll still be in a good place,' he said.

Others, including current team-mate Jenson Button, challenge his wisdom at taking the job that has proved beyond Michael Schumacher, a seventime world champion retiring for a second, and final, time today.

'Lewis is taking a big risk, there's no getting away from that,' said Button, whose second place on the grid meant a record 62nd all-McLaren front row.

Almost 6,000 miles away, Ron Dennis will be at his 25million Surrey mansion, smarting that Hamilton – groomed for stardom from childhood by his largesse as McLaren team principal – will no longer be under his control tonight.

Dennis takes defeat badly, and over this summer through an obstinacy in his negotiations with Hamilton's management, led by Simon Fuller, he was beaten in the fight for Lewis's signature.

Happy days: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his championship victory in 2008

Happy days: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his championship victory in 2008

The might of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, co-opted by the Mercedes main board to give their F1 team political impetus, along with Ross Brawn, the team principal who shared in all of Schumacher's world championships at Benetton and Ferrari, and Bernie Ecclestone, the ring master of the billionaire F1 circus, provided Hamilton with compelling arguments to leave McLaren.

For Dennis, Hamilton's departure is a betrayal. But, then, Lauda, Alain Prost and the late Senna – all, like Hamilton, world champions for McLaren – also departed under a strained atmosphere.

'Ron is a challenge to work with,' said Lauda. 'I had my fights with him, but I have also seen how warm-hearted he can be. Everyone has their good and bad sides. Let's say Ron is 50-50.'

Lauda, 63, was impressed with Hamilton the moment they met at the Conrad Centennial Hotel after the Singapore Grand Prix two months ago.

'There are mixed feelings in the paddock about Lewis,' said Lauda. 'I heard people call him single-minded, or emotionally naive. I didn't believe all that bull****. He was very intelligent and down to earth. I liked the fact he met me on his own without any manager. Inside the car, there's no discussion about his abilities. I always rated him the top driver – he is aggressive and does what it takes.

New ground: Ross Brawn will be working with Lewis Hamilton next year

New ground: Ross Brawn will be working with Lewis Hamilton next year

'I don't think I needed to do too much persuading for him to come to Mercedes. For me, it was a simple case to make: when a driver stays with one team all his life he sees only one part of the world. He wants to see another world, and he is curious enough to go for this challenge.

'I honestly don't believe he is leaving McLaren because he was sour with Ron. With me, Lewis spoke highly of the McLaren team. He understands Ron as I do, and I have no bad feelings for him. I am sure Lewis will take with him good memories, as I did.'

Nevertheless, by late summer Hamilton's overriding emotion was to be freed from Dennis. Hamilton had, after all, fired his own father from managing him in March 2010 when he thought he had matured enough to direct his own future.

There was pain from that fall-out, but the presence here of his father and stepmother, Linda, proves wounds have healed.

'We're here to support Lewis,' said Hamilton Snr, who suspects that McLaren stand to lose more than his son. 'He's been racing and winning since he was eight. Nothing is going to change at Mercedes.'

Private life: Lewis Hamilton's relationship with Nicole Scherzinger is back on

Private life: Lewis Hamilton's relationship with Nicole Scherzinger is back on

Lauda's role in the poaching of Hamilton on a three-year, 60m deal which grants him the autonomy to exploit his own image – something Dennis denies his drivers – was a strategic masterstroke.

'Mercedes is committed to F1 for the next eight years, and it makes a hell of a difference to have a new driver, especially someone like Lewis, to bring a positive spirit,' said Lauda, supported by Ecclestone in his quest, as Hamilton's capture was integral to the car giants staying in the sport.

'Ross is energised by Lewis, and he was the man behind this. As a team we have to do everything in our power to have a competitive car.'

Even so, opinion within the paddock is divided about how Hamilton's story will unfold. Has the 27-year-old made an irreparable mistake by leaving a team with a race-winning pedigree to gamble on Mercedes getting an edge as one of three manufacturers building the 1.4 turbo engines to be introduced in 2014

One former driver-manager here said: 'I would have thought a better option for Lewis might have been a short-term contract with McLaren for him to have some options when Red Bull and Ferrari have a driver vacancy, as they almost certainly will at the end of next year.'

Opportunity: With Lewis Hamilton at a different team, Jenson Button (left) think he'll have more opportunities to win

Opportunity: With Lewis Hamilton at a different team, Jenson Button (left) think he'll have more opportunities to win

Button, 32, the only team-mate ever to beat Hamilton over a season, feels sure an opportunity awaits as the lone former champion at McLaren next season.

'I have my best chance in three years to be world champion in 2013,' said Button. 'In our time together, Lewis and I were forever taking points off each other. What will most stand out for me is his speed in qualifying, even in a car he is not that happy with.'

In the circumstances, Hamilton's relationship with Dennis was never going to end happily, but he is not the least affected by him choosing not to be here today. Next month, Hamilton will appear before McLaren's workforce at the team's HQ in Surrey, to thank them for their support.

'It will be tough, but I feel great I'm being allowed to speak rather than just leave. That would have been cold,' he said.

More than anything, though, and as much as he dislikes Dennis's contractural insistence on his drivers handing over their trophies to him, Hamilton hopes to deliver one last piece of silverware to McLaren from Brazil.

Rollercoaster life of Lewis, from cheers to tears

Grands Prix 109 Wins 21 Poles 25

At 10, Hamilton won his first British Karting Championship and introduced himself to McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis at the annual Autosport Awards, saying: 'I'm going to drive for you one day.'

2007 A rookie season saw him finish on the podium in his first five races and eventually failed by one point to win world title. His father negotiated five-year 75million deal for him.

2008 Hamilton became the youngest, and first black, world champion in F1 history. Won title by a point from Ferrari's Felipe Massa when overtaking Timo Glock on final lap of the final race in Brazil to seize the fifth place he needed.

2009 Hamilton excluded from fourth place in the first race of the year, at Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, having misled stewards in an incident that became known as 'Liargate'. Won just two races in the season.

2010 His relationship with American singer Nicole Scherzinger declared over. In March, sacked his father as manager two weeks before the first race in Bahrain. Three wins, but Sebastian Vettel replaced him as youngest champion.

2011 Series of six incidents with Massa, and seemingly had a season ticket to the stewards' room after five drive-through penalties. Three wins, but behind Jenson Button in championship – first time he had ever been beaten by a team-mate.

2012 Returned refreshed, his private life settled. But one question dominated all others: would Hamilton re-sign for McLaren At the end of September he agreed to replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes on a 60m three-year deal.

Lewis Hamilton wins United States Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel

Yee-Ham! Lewis wins in Texas as Alonso fightback ensures title battle goes down to last race in Brazil

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UPDATED:

21:20 GMT, 18 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton has won the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.

The outgoing McLaren star overtook Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to secure his fourth victory of the season.

Vettel finished second with his championship rival Fernando Alonso completing the podium to ensure the battle for the drivers' world title will be decided at the final race of the season in Brazil next Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton

Champagne moment: Hamilton celebrates after his brilliant victory in Texas

Lewis Hamilton

Yanks for the memories: Hamilton points to the United States flag on his helmet after winning in Austin

Yanks for the memories: Hamilton points to the United States flag on his helmet after winning in Austin

Unites States Grand Prix: Classification

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5. Jenson Button (McLaren)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
7. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
9. Pastor Maldonao (Williams)
10. Bruno Senna (Williams)

It was not the race Red Bull
expected, however, because although the 15 points from Vettel's
runner-up spot mean they are constructors' champions for a third
consecutive grands prix, there was little celebration on the pit wall.

It was also not the 100th grands prix
Vettel was expecting either as the 25-year-old German had been flawless
in practice and qualifying around the 250million purpose-built Circuit
of The Americas on the outskirts of Austin.

But it was a thoroughly deserved
victory for Hamilton, who was robbed of wins in Singapore and Abu Dhabi
as he suffered mechanical issues when leading.

Over the line: Hamilton overtook Vettel to win the inaugural United States Grand Prix

Over the line: Hamilton overtook Vettel to win the inaugural United States Grand Prix

All the talk immediately before the
race, however, had centred on a seemingly controversial move from
Ferrari in deciding to break a seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa's
car.

In doing so, it immediately incurred a five-place grid penalty for the Brazilian, dropping him from sixth to 11th.

More importantly it promoted Alonso
on to the clean side of the grid from eighth to seventh, giving him
better traction at the start as the dirty side had been the described as
potentially like starting 'in the wet' by Massa.

Yee-haw: Hamilton poses with his winners' trophy and flanked by Vettel and Alonso on the podium (below)

Yee-haw: Hamilton poses with his winners' trophy and flanked by Vettel and Alonso on the podium (below)

Yee-haw: Hamilton poses with his winners' trophy and flanked by Vettel and Alonso on the podium (below)

It was a clever tactical move from
Ferrari which they blatantly said was done because 'the interests of the
team come before anything else'.

It sparked a fierce debate in the
paddock as Ferrari had effectively found a loophole in the regulations
to aid their own cause and keep Alonso in the championship hunt.

It proved crucial because emerging
out of the signature uphill turn one Alonso had gained three places to
climb to fourth behind a Red Bull one-two.

Lew beauty: Hamilton wins in Austin to claim his fourth grand prix victory of the season

Lew beauty: Hamilton wins in Austin to claim his fourth grand prix victory of the season

Unsurprisingly Hamilton, on the dirty
side, lost second place to Mark Webber as Sebastian Vettel was away and
clear from the 36th pole position of his career.

Ordinarily, with Vettel out in front
into the first corner that would signal a comfortable cruise to the
flag, but not on this occasion.

Hamilton eased his way past Webber on
lap six that signalled a stunning battle between the Briton and Vettel
as they went head-to-head and wheel-to-wheel at one stage.

In the first half of the race
Hamilton managed to close to within a second, but as his set of
medium-compound Pirelli tyres started to lose their grip, he never got
close enough to attempt a pass.

End of the road: Webber was forced to retire on lap 18 with an alternator failure

End of the road: Webber was forced to retire on lap 18 with an alternator failure

End of the road: Webber was forced to retire on lap 18 with an alternator failure

Ahead of the first round of pit stops
Alonso's cause was further assisted when Webber was forced to retire on
lap 17 as yet another alternator failure to afflict a Red Bull saw him
grind to a halt.

Following the flurry of activity in
the pitlane, Hamilton then began to chip away at Vettel, eking out
tenths of a second here and there until crucially closing the gap to
within a second.

That allowed him to use his DRS on
the long straight between turns and 11 and 12, but for a number of laps
the 27-year-old continued to fall just short.

Then on lap 42 of the 56 Hamilton
finally managed to get close enough to Vettel to execute a manoeuvre
into turn 12, the duo inches apart at one stage before Hamilton made the
move stick.

For Alonso, it was crucial as in one
fell swoop Hamilton had taken seven points off Vettel, limiting the
damage as the Ferrari was a long way adrift in third such was its pace
compared to the leaders.

Hamilton, however, failed to pull
away from Vettel and the last few laps were tense, but the Briton did
enough to hold on for the win, with Alonso a staggering 40 seconds down
the road.

The trio were followed by Massa and
Jenson Button, fifth in his McLaren after starting from 12th, followed
by the Lotus' of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Chase: Hamilton hunts down Vettel before overtaking the Red Bull driver

Chase: Hamilton hunts down Vettel before overtaking the Red Bull driver

US F1 Grand Prix 2012 live

US Grand Prix live: Follow the F1 action as Vettel aims to win third world championship

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UPDATED:

04:00 GMT, 18 November 2012

With just two rounds to go, Formula 1 returns to the United States for the first time since 2007 at the brand new Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Sebastian Vettel will start from pole in a bid to secure a third straight championship with title rival Fernando Alonso down in eighth. Britain's Lewis Hamilton joins the German on the front row.

*Follow live coverage from 6.30pm*

Number one: Sebastian Vettel (centre) celebrates securing pole position ahead of the Grand Prix

Number one: Sebastian Vettel (centre) celebrates securing pole position ahead of the Grand Prix

US Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole

Vettel on the brink of history as rampant Red Bull claims pole for US Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

20:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel stands just 56 laps away from becoming the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history.

Vettel continued his total domination of the United States Grand Prix weekend, following his clean sweep of practice by setting the fastest times in all three qualifying sessions.

It means the 25-year-old will start his 100th grand prix from his sixth pole position this year, and 36th of a career which threatens to scale new heights on Sunday.

Centre of attention: Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole of the season for the US Grand Prix

Centre of attention: Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole of the season for the US Grand Prix

Leading title rival Fernando Alonso by 10 points going into the race at the 250million Circuit of The Americas on the outskirts of Texan capital Austin, the duo are separated by seven places on the grid.

Alonso could only qualify ninth in his Ferrari, but will move up a position to eighth as Lotus' Romain Grosjean will drop five places from fourth after being penalised for a gearbox change.

Alonso has to finish within 15 points of Vettel to ensure the title fight goes down to the wire in Brazil next weekend, but clearly faces an uphill battle to achieve that on the evidence so far.

It was only just from Vettel, however, as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning performance to finish just a tenth of a second adrift down.

However, he will start on the dirty side of the grid which is a distinct disadvantage on this track.

The conditions – a combination of Pirelli opting for the harder two of the four dry compounds available and the glasslike nature of the new track – resulted in all three sessions proving hectic.

It allowed the drivers to stay out on track, putting in lap after lap with the aim of allowing the circuit and the rubber to come together, at least giving the American fans their money's worth.

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

Leading the way: Vettel can become the sport's youngest ever three-time world champion

It is why the inside line down the home straight will prove tough for anybody in their bid to get away, meaning Hamilton will come under pressure from third-on-the-grid Mark Webber in his Red Bull.

With Grosjean penalised, Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen moves up to fourth, followed by Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

On the fifth row of the grid, Grosjean will be joined by Williams' Pastor Maldonado just behind him in 10th.

McLaren's current fallibility struck again in Q2, with Jenson Button on the receiving end on this occasion as he complained of a loss of power with three minutes remaining of the 15.

At that stage he was eighth, and it was inevitable he would drop out of the top 10, the Briton eventually falling to 12th behind Williams' Bruno Senna.

Force India's Paul di Resta found himself out-qualified by Hulkenberg for the fourth consecutive race, finishing 0.6secs adrift and will start 13th.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne starts from his best grid slot of 14th since the fifth race of the year in Spain, lining up ahead of Sauber duo Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.

For Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, the German starts a dismal 17th as he found himself comfortably out-paced by Schumacher for once this year.

For only the second time this season Daniel Ricciardo failed to make it out of Q1 in his Toro Rosso and will start 18th.

Behind him, however, there was a triumph for Marussia as both Timo Glock and Charles Pic out-qualified the Caterhams of Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen.

On the final row, the HRTs will start the race as there were fears they would be outside the 107 per cent time.

With fears they will fold following next weekend's race in Brazil due to financial woes, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan made the cut, despite the latter stopping on track towards the end.

Vettel declared himself 'very pleased with the result', and rightly so given Alonso's position, although he claimed he is unconcerned as to the Spaniard's woes.

'There's not much to feel,' said Vettel, when asked for his thoughts.

All a blur: Vettel has been totally dominant throughout the weekend in Texas

All a blur: Vettel has been totally dominant throughout the weekend in Texas

'We just look after ourselves, so we are very happy, we had no issues today, although we lost a little bit of time yesterday (with a water leak), but these things can happen.

'The best strategy is to keep your head down, which was the target in qualifying.

'But we saw at the last race (in Abu Dhabi) how quickly things can change, so we'll focus on our race.

'Tomorrow we have the chance to seal the constructors' title for the team, which is what Mark and I will be looking out for.'

Hamilton naturally expressed his fears as to his starting position as he said: 'I'm not really concerned about the hill (at turn one), I'm more concpractisederned about the dirty side of the grid

'I practiced a launch earlier (in final practice) from that side and it was very slippery.

'I don't want to get in the way of Seb's race, however, I do want to win and I'll try and get through their cleanly.'

With Red Bull with one hand on their third constructors' title, it appears inconceivable they will not finish the job off on Sunday.

'We have an eye on the constructors' which we aim to put to bed,' said Webber. 'It will be a huge result for everyone at the factory in Milton Keynes and (engine supplier) Renault.'

United States Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel fastest in first practice

Vettel lays down marker ahead of US Grand Prix with fastest lap in first practice

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UPDATED:

19:05 GMT, 16 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel issued an early warning to Fernando Alonso that he is not prepared for their title fight to go down to the wire.

In the opening practice session at the 250million Circuit of The Americas that plays host to the first United States Grand Prix for five years, Vettel left his rivals in the shade come the end.

It is, of course, still early days on a track still very green and needing to be rubbered in, but as a potential marker, it will have had an effect.

Fastest: Vettel has laid down a marker for Sunday's Grand Prix

Fastest: Vettel has laid down a marker for Sunday's Grand Prix

Fastest: Vettel has laid down a marker for Sunday's Grand Prix

Vettel needs to finish 15 points clear of Alonso on Sunday to become only the third driver in Formula One history – Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher the others – to claim three titles in a row.

Organisers predicted a lap time of one minute 37 seconds for the 5.516km track that has 'borrowed' a number of features from other circuits.

Vettel, however, finished the initial 90 minutes with a time of one minute 38.125secs, and that on the hard, slower tyre compared to the option of the faster medium this weekend that was never used by any driver during FP1.

Waiting in the wings: Alonso is looking to catch the German champion

Waiting in the wings: Alonso is looking to catch the German champion

The opening laps were naturally cautious, with the track noticeably slippy, and with the first timed lap set by Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi of one minute 55 seconds.

Eventually McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took over proceedings and led the way for a lengthy period until the final 10 minutes when Vettel broke the back of the track.

The 25-year-old Red Bull star, who is currently 10 points clear of Alonso, finished 1.418secs clear of Hamilton, the biggest margin at the end of any practice session this season.

Debut: Austin is ready to host the American Grand Prix

Debut: Austin is ready to host the American Grand Prix

Debut: Austin is ready to host the American Grand Prix

Naturally, it is not known what fuel level Vettel was running, but even so it was still an impressive margin, with Alonso third on the timesheet, 2.212secs adrift in his Ferrari.

The top three teams occupied the top six places, with Jenson Button in his McLaren, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Ferrari's Felipe Massa fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, all around 2.5secs down.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was the best of the rest ahead of Kobayashi and team-mate Sergio Perez in eighth and 10th, with Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes splitting the Sauber duo.

Three and easy: Vettel is looking to secure his third consecutive crown

Three and easy: Vettel is looking to secure his third consecutive crown

Three and easy: Vettel is looking to secure his third consecutive crown

Paul di Resta, apparently struggling badly with the balance of his Force India car, was 11th quickest, 3.658secs behind Vettel, and 0.8secs down on team-mate Hulkenberg.

The Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen, who gave the team their first win this season last time out in Abu Dhabi, and Romain Grosjean were a lowly 14th and 15th but with the prospect of more to come.

At the bottom, and clearly out of his depth on this occasion, was HRT reserve Ma Qing Hua, the Chinese finishing 10.434secs off the pace, and 1.7secs behind team-mate Pedro de la Rosa.

United States Grand Prix 2012: Stats and facts

US Grand Prix: All you need to know about Formula One's inaugural visit to Austin

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UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 16 November 2012

AUSTIN TRACK GUIDE

Click here for your guide to The Circuit of Americas

Formula One will attempt for the 10th time to crack the United States this weekend when it returns to America after a five-year absence.

Riverside, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Phoenix and Indianapolis have all played host at some stage over the past 60 years, but without much success.

Now, a purpose-built 250million facility just outside Austin, Texas, in the Circuit of The Americas, will try to woo a sceptical audience.

Going into the 19th and penultimate race of F1's longest campaign, there is still a title at stake, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel 10 points clear of Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

Debut: The Circuit of the Americas will host this weekend's United States Grand Prix

Debut: The Circuit of the Americas will host this weekend's United States Grand Prix

Venue: Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas

Circuit length: 5.516km/3.752miles

Laps: 56

Race distance: 308.896km/191.165miles

Number of corners: 20 (11 left/9 right)

Tyre compounds to be used: hard/medium

Overtaking chance: Into turns 1, 11 and 12

Estimated lap time: 1min 37secs

Full throttle per lap: 60 per cent

Gear changes per lap: 58 (race = 3248)

Centurion: Vettel will compete in his 100th grand prix on Sunday

Centurion: Vettel will compete in his 100th grand prix on Sunday

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Sebastian Vettel will become the
latest driver to join the 'ton-up' club when he competes in his 100th
grand prix this weekend.

In his previous 99 races, Vettel
has been on pole 35 times and taken the chequered flag on 26 occasions,
along with 19 other podium finishes.

Kimi Raikkonen's win for Lotus in
Abu Dhabi was his first since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, although he
took a two-year break from F1 in 2010 and 2011.

It was the first for the team from
the factory in Enstone since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix when they
were known as Renault.

And it was also the first time the
name Lotus had topped the podium since the 1987 US Grand Prix East in
Detroit when the late Ayrton Senna was at the wheel.

Raikkonen has now had 15
consecutive results in the points. Only Michael Schumacher (24),
Sebastian Vettel (19) and Fernando Alonso (18 & 17) can boast a
longer run.

Schumacher has now failed to score a point in his last five races, the worst run of his entire F1 career.

The only two active F1 drivers to
have won a US GP are Schumacher (5) and Lewis Hamilton (1), who won the
last event on American soil at Indianapolis in 2007.

There have been 27 different
winners of a Formula One Grand Prix in the USA, whilst there have been
nine different winning teams.

The only American driver to have
won an F1 grand prix on home soil was Mario Andretti in 1977. *
Simulations suggest the circuit has more corners over 250kph than Spa
and more below 100kph than Hungary.

A qualifying lap time of around one minute and 37 seconds, and a race lap time of 1min 42secs, are predicted.