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Vettel continues to set the pace

NEWS STORY
17/11/2012

It's fair to say that Sebastian Vettel probably has more good things to say about the Circuit of the Americas than his rivals.

While all and sundry are tripping over themselves to heap praise upon the new facility - and quite rightly so - the circuit appears to have been built with the German youngster and Adrian Newey's RBR8 in mind. The Daily Telegraph, not usually given to hyperbole, described Vettel's domination of yesterday's sessions thus:

"Sebastian Vettel did not so much blow rivals out of the water, he blasted them all the way to the Gulf of Mexico".

Fact is, though a little over the top, that is precisely what happened, the German enjoying a 1.4s advantage over his closest rival (Lewis Hamilton) in FP1, and a 0.757s advantage in FP2, this time to his Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber. Factor in Fernando Alonso and it's even worse, Vettel out-pacing the Spaniard by 2.2s in the first session and 0.765s in the second.

As if that isn't bad enough, Vettel had limited running in the afternoon session due to a water leak, the German only completing 17 laps, around half the number completed by his rivals.

Ignoring Vettel, Webber also has to be a favourite here, while both McLaren drivers are looking good. Alonso and Massa also look promising in the Ferrari but in terms of the championship its hard not to see Sebastian wrapping it all up this weekend.

The big talking point is the lack of grip, a combination of the new track, cool conditions in FP1 and a conservative tyre choice from Pirelli. A number of corners have been catching drivers out, particularly T19, though the first corner enjoyed more than its fair share of incidents.

Other than the usual suspects, also looking good yesterday was Kobayashi, the Williams duo and Rosberg, while the Marussias are mixing it with the Caterhams.

Conditions this morning, ahead of today's sole practice session, are even cooler than yesterday, the air temperature being 10 degrees C and the track temperature 14 degrees, down 2 and 3 degrees on yesterday. Consequently we can expect more thrills and spill this morning, quite a worry for the teams considering that qualifying follows in just a couple of hours.

The lights go green and Kobayashi leads his Sauber teammate Perez out on to the cold and slippery track. They are followed by Karthikeyan, di Resta, Grosjean and Maldonado.

With four minutes all but the Mercedes and Toro Rossos have been out. Glock is one of the first to take advantage of the run off at T19 with Grosjean taking a similar detour.

A couple of drivers, including Hamilton and Massa, complete two installation lap, however, it is Raikkonen who posts the first time of the day (1:49.107). However, this is soon beaten by Vergne (47.839).

Schumacher is told that it is "slippery in T19", as though the German, who posts 46.184, wasn't aware. Next time around he posts 42.396 to go quickest, ahead of Rosberg, Vergne, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.

Having posted a 40.745, Rosberg complains that his seat is "pinching" his left shoulder. Moments later Schumacher slips in a 40.580.

As Schumacher ups the ante with a 39.483, Massa heads down the pitlane. Rosberg, having gone quickest in all three sectors, crosses the line at 38.589. Next time around the youngster goes quicker still, posting a 38.221.

Fun and games for Schumacher and Massa, the German cuts across the Brazilian, his former teammate, before diving into the pits. Felipe shakes his fist in frustration.

Kobayashi goes second (38.656) and his teammate third, as Button begins his first flying lap. Hamilton and Alonso are also on track.

Perez, carrying a lot of speed, hits Pic, though thankfully both are able to continue. Yesterday we saw a number of drivers caught out when (slower) cars in front had nowhere to go to get out of the way - however, that doesn't explain the Mexican's excessive speed. T be honest, ever since his confirmation at McLaren, the youngster hasn't looked quite the same.

Button runs wide at T17, another of the bogey corners here. And to be honest, especially in the conditions, there are quite a few of them.

Button goes eighth and Hamilton tenth as the Red Bull duo wait resolutely in the pits.

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