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Friday analysis - COTA poses intriguing challenge 16 Nov 2012

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01 with puncture.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012

Tyre temperature was the major concern of the day, with many drivers describing a very green and dirty Circuit of The Americas as ‘virtually undriveable’ in the morning. Things got better in the afternoon, with a rise in track temperature and the fact that the historic F1 cars had also helped it to rubber in a little, but a further change in track conditions later saw lap times increase again. Regardless, almost everyone loved the track - even if no one quite yet understands it…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 38.125s, P1/1m 37.718s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 40.650s, P5/1m 38.475s, P2

Red Bull were in a class of their own all day, once Vettel had stamped his mark at the end of FP1. Both drivers said they got into their rhythm, but just to rub in his dramatic seven-tenths of a second advantage, Vettel said his car had a water leak that stopped him doing as much running as he would have liked.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 40.337s, P3/1m 38.483s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 40.966s, P6/1m 39.029s, P6

Alonso said that Red Bull’s sheer speed was no surprise, but that the updates on his car appeared to work. Massa said he couldn’t remember ever driving on a surface that gave less grip than in FP1, but that it had been fun driving it and he had gathered lots of data.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.543s, P2/1m 38.748s, P4
Jenson Button, 1m 40.528s, P4/1m 38.786s, P5

Both drivers said that their main problem was switching on the tyres, but were confident that changes can redress that problem for tomorrow.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 41.159s, P9/1m 39.448s, P7
Michael Schumacher, 1m 42.588s, P17/1m 40.115s, P10

Rosberg said that his Mercedes felt a lot better here than it did in Abu Dhabi, while Schumacher simply struggled for grip.

Williams
Bruno Senna, 1m 44.548s, P22/1m 39.531s, P8
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 42.539s, P16/1m 40.230s, P12

Williams really suffered on tyre temperature in FP1, but Senna got going well in the afternoon. Maldonado was less happy with his car’s balance and caused a minor stir when he came into the pits with the rear of his FW34 on fire due to an engine air leak, but the team quickly dealt with that.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 41.036s, P8/1m 39.653s, P9
Sergio Perez, 1m 41.473s, P10/1m 40.326s, P14

Kobayashi suffered with problems getting his tyres switched on and lost time with a broken exhaust while Perez, in what he regards as his home Grand Prix, said he wasn’t yet happy with the balance of his C31.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.880s, P14/1m 40.166s, P11
Romain Grosjean, 1m 41.998s, P15/1m 40.286s, P13

Raikkonen evaluated the latest exhaust system in FP1 as Grosjean worked on some new rear drums. Both felt there was a lot of improvement to come from the cars tomorrow.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 41.825s, P12/1m 40.435s, P15
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 41.833s, P13/1m 40.516s, P16

Ricciardo and Vergne were well matched in both sessions, and said they improved their level of grip in the afternoon.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 41.023s, P7/1m 40.700s, P17
Paul di Resta, 1m 41.783s, P11/1m 41.430s, P18

Force India looked better when the track was at its worst, and both drivers struggled to balance their cars in FP2. Hulkenberg had the dubious distinction of the being the first man to spin here, in FP1.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 43.443s, P19/1m 42.476s, P19
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 43.522s, P20/1m 42.846s, P21

No real problems here apart from the struggle to find grip, but Kovalainen had a spin in FP1, then damaged the left-rear tyre in a clash with Vergne and had to limp home in FP2.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 44.464s, P21/1m 42.652s, P20
Charles Pic, 1m 43.288s, P18/1m 43.458s, P22

Glock said he had a super-difficult start to the weekend in FP1, but that by the end of FP2 he had found a decent balance on his MR01. Pic did a fantastic job in FP1, but was struggling more in the afternoon. The team were very happy with their high-fuel pace, however.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 46.917s, P23/1m 44.453s, P23
Narain Karthikeyan (pm only), 1m 45.114s, P24
Ma Qing Hua (am only), 1m 48.559s, P24

De la Rosa got his F112 going reasonable well by the end of the day, while Karthikeyan struggled in the afternoon after losing FP1 giving his seat to Qing Hua.

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