Vettel seals last grasp pole for the United States Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has secured the 44th pole position of his career with a stunning lap set late in the session to secure the top spot for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) fastest at the YDT on P Zero white medium tyres

Vettel’s laptime of 1:36.338, set in the dying moments of the final period of qualifying, proved just enough to pip his team-mate Mark Webber to pole, with the Australian just a single tenth down on the German, while Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg will fill the second row of the grid with third and fourth fastest for Lotus and Sauber respectively.

The final session to the finalise the grid for the Sunday’s race was dominated by the two Red Bull’s, who had the benefit of an extra set of fresh medium tyres, having cleared Q1 on the hard compound Pirelli’s.

Mark Webber topped the timesheets with his initial run in Q3 and looked set to beat his team-mate to pole for the second consecutive qualifying session, but while the Australian improved on his second run, it was not enough to hold off Vettel, who produced a stunning final sector to beat the outgoing Red Bull man to pole position, his eighth of the year.

Romain Grosjean proved to be the Red Bull pair’s closest challenger in qualifying, but the Lotus man was over eight tenths of a second down on Vettel’s pole time, ending the session third overall.

Nico Hulkenberg once again delivered a stand out performance for Sauber, the German will start fourth on the grid alongside Grosjean.

Lewis Hamilton could manage no better than fifth in the first of the Mercedes, with his team-mate Nico Rosberg stuck down in 14th, although the German will start 13th as a result of Jenson Button’s penalty, which will see the 2009 champion relegated to 16th on the grid.

Fernando Alonso salvaged sixth for Ferrari, ahead of Sergio Perez’s McLaren and Heikki Kovalainen, whose fine performance to earn eight on the grid will vindicate the Lotus team’s decision to choose him to substitute for Kimi Raikkonen.

Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas will be disappointed to only start ninth for Williams, having topped the opening period of qualifying before proceeding to Q3 with the fourth fastest lap in Q2, while Esteban Gutierrez will join the Finn on the fifth row with tenth for Sauber.

Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado suffered the indignity of being eliminated in the opening knock-out session, the Force India man was forced to stop out on track with a break failure, while the Venezuelan pointed the figure at his Williams team, for his poor performance after qualifying 1.5 seconds down on his team-mate, the aforementioned Bottas in Q1.

Giedo van der Garde won the battle of the new teams with 19th fastest overall, but Jules Bianchi managed to split the two Caterhams, with Pic in 21st ahead of Max Chilton, who props up the table in last.

Qualifying – Classification: 

 1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.338s

2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.441s  +0.103s

3. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m37.155s  +0.817s

4. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.296s  +0.958s

5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m37.345s  +1.007s

6. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.376s  +1.038s

7. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m37.452s  +1.114s

8. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m37.715s  +1.377s

9. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m37.836s  +1.498s

10. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.034s  +1.696s

11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.131s  +1.066s

12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m38.139s  +1.074s

13. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.217s  +1.152s

14. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m38.364s  +1.299s

15. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m38.592s  +1.527s

16. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.696s  +1.631s

17. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m39.250s  +1.429s

18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m39.351s  +1.530s

19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m40.491s  +2.670s

20. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m40.528s  +2.707s

21. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m40.596s  +2.775s

22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.401s  +3.580s

Image courtesy of Pirelli Media

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