Vettel grips top time on a slippery U.S. track

By Ubaid Parkar, 16 November 2012
© AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Formula 1 made its debut on the Circuit of The Americas on Friday as cars headed out for the first practice session for the United States Grand Prix slipping and sliding on the brand new racetrack.

Drivers emerged unscathed despite the risks with Sebastian Vettel unsurprisingly setting the fastest time with 1 minute 38.125 seconds in cold conditions and clear blue skies.

"If the cold conditions continue, the key to qualifying could well be the difficult task of getting the tyres up to temperature," Ferrari said in a statement after the session.

Lewis Hamilton was second in the McLaren, 1.4 seconds slower than the reigning champion’s Red Bull ahead.

Chief championship contender Fernando Alonso was further off the pace, 2.2 seconds off the leading pace with the Ferrari driver’s chances in the title battle appearing as low as the grip on the track.

"The track has less grip than an ice rink, watch out!" Toro Rosso mentioned on its Twitter page early in the session as drivers had several off track moments.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the course was very close to what the drivers had expected after practicing on simulators.

Jenson Button was fourth followed by Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg, who spun in his Force India twice.

Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez rounded up the top ten.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen was 14th in his Lotus while Michael Schumacher was further down in 17th.

HRT was the only team to field its test driver in the session with Ma Qing Hua replacing Narain Karthikeyan for the session.

 

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