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Qualifying - Vettel snatches pole from Webber in Austin 16 Nov 2013

(L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, pole sitter Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, USA, Texas, Saturday, 16 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, USA, Texas, Saturday, 16 November 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, USA, Texas, Saturday, 16 November 2013 Williams' Valtteri Bottas finishes Q1 as the fastest man on track and the Finn continues to look quick in Q2 Adrian Sutil parks his Force India with a problem and is eliminated in Q1 along with both Caterhams, both Marussias and Williams' Pastor Maldonado Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, USA, Texas, Saturday, 16 November 2013

Sebastian Vettel left it to the last moment to steal pole position away from Red Bull team mate Mark Webber in qualifying for the 2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin on Saturday afternoon.

Webber looked to have sealed P1 on his last run, but moments later Vettel completed a perfect final sector to grab the top spot by just over a tenth of a second.

Q1 was a paradox for Williams, as Valtteri Bottas slipped in the fastest time of 1m 37.821s to pip Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, but team mate Pastor Maldonado failed to get through. The Venezuelan got out of shape after he appeared to be baulked on one of his quick laps by Gutierrez, an incident the stewards have chosen to investigate.

Adrian Sutil was the first man not to make it out of Q1 as he struggled with his Force India and then stopped it with apparent technical problems on the exit of Turn 1 shortly after an attempt at a quick lap ended in a disappointing 1m 39.250s. Maldonado managed 1m 39.351s, while Giedo van der Garde led a tight trio comprising his Caterham on 1m 40.491s, Jules Bianchi’s Marussia on 1m 40.528s and team mate Charles Pic on 1m 40.596s. Max Chilton brought up the rear in the second Marussia on 1m 41.401s and is also facing a stewards' investigation for a potential block on Maldonado.

Nico Rosberg had high hopes for Mercedes’ chances this weekend, but by setting only the 14th fastest time in Q2 he was one of the six who failed to make it into Q3 as Vettel set the pace from Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo’s 1m 38.131s for Toro Rosso couldn’t dislodge the 10th fastest man, Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen, and the Australian was followed by Force India’s Paul di Resta on 1m 38.139s, McLaren’s Jenson Button on 1m 38.217s, Rosberg on 1m 38.364s, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on 1m 38.592s and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 38.696s.

And so to Q3 where, for a short while, it seemed that Webber might take the pole with his second run lap of 1m 36.441s, but Vettel came good right when it mattered with 1m 36.338s and punched the air in delight. Lotus’s Romain Grosjean also came good with 1m 37.155s for third as Nico Hulkenberg again starred for Sauber with 1m 37.296s and fourth place. Hamilton should have been closer to the Red Bulls but got sector one wrong on his first run and then got down to only 1m 37.345s for his second. That was sufficient to pip Alonso, however, as the Ferrari driver lapped in 1m 37.376s. McLaren’s Sergio Perez did well for seventh on 1m 37.452s, as did Kovalainen on his return to active F1 duty. He took eighth in the second Lotus on 1m 37.715s.

Williams’ promise wasn’t quite realised, but Bottas’s 1m 37.836s was more than respectable for ninth, as Gutierrez in the second Sauber completed the top ten with 1m 38.034s. Whether the Mexican keeps that place after the stewards’ enquiry remains to be seen.

Button has a three-place grid penalty for passing another car under red flags in FP1 and Pic loses five places after a gearbox change on Saturday morning, so the grid currently lines up thus: Vettel, Webber; Grosjean, Hulkenberg; Hamilton, Alonso; Perez, Kovalainen; Bottas, Gutierrez; Ricciardo, di Resta; Rosberg, Massa; Vergne, Button; Sutil, Maldonado; Van der Garde, Bianchi; Chilton, Pic.

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