The first ever Austin F1 qualifying session is over, and Sebastian Vettel has edged out Lewis Hamilton by one tenth of a second to take the pole position. Despite the close 1-2, Vettel did to the session what I did to a plate of carnitas last night.
Vettel's Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber is in third place (at the moment). The two Lotus-Renaults finished fourth-and-fifth, Grosjean and Internet favorite Kimi Räikkönen respectively, but they won't start that way because of a penalty.
All of this is very important because if Vettel pulls off a win and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso can't crack the top four then the young German driver will be crowned champion in Austin.
Your editor left the friendly confines and hot dog smell of the Circuit of the Americas media center to attempt survival in the cruel world of the Red Bull Racing paddock suite, which provided a stellar view of the track, a DJ, and a remarkable spread with a tasty seared tuna. There were also break dancers.
Much to the delight of the assembled Red Bull/Infiniti faithful, Vettel left no question about who would be fastest around the track through the first two sessions, try as Hamilton might to catch him. Weber's third place position is precarious as he's being investigated for missing a weight check in Q1. Grosjean's slot in fourth was a pleasant surprise and would put him opposite Kimi if a five-space penalty for a gearbox change didn't force him down into ninth.
The most notable place, however, is Alonso way down in 8th after all penalties are in. He'll have to improve to fourth in order to stave off losing any chance of winning the championship. Jenson Button had power issues in Q2 and wasn't able to get out of the pits in time to make it back in the top ten.
U.S. Grand Prix Qualifying Results
1. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull, 1:35.657.
2. Lewis Hamilton, England, McLaren, 1:35.766.
3. Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull, 1:36.174.
4. Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus, 1:36.587.
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Lotus, 1:36.708.
6. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Mercedes, 1:36.794.
7. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari, 1:36.937.
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Force India, 1:37.141.
9. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari, 1:37.300.
10. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams, 1:37.842.
11. Bruno Senna, Brazil, Williams, 1:37.604.
12. Jenson Button, England, McLaren, 1:37.616.
13. Paul di Resta, Scotland, Force India, 1:37.665.
14. Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Toro Rosso, 1:37.879.
15. Sergio Perez, Mexico, Sauber, 1:38.206.
16. Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Sauber, 1:38.437.
17. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes, 1:38.501.
18. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Toro Rosso, 1:39.114.
19. Timo Glock, Germany, Marussia, 1:40.056.
20. Charles Pic, France, Marussia, 1:40.664.
21. Vitaly Petrov, Russia, Caterham, 1:40.809.
22. Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, Caterham, 1:41.166.
23. Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, HRT, 1:42.011.
24. Narain Karthikeyan, India, HRT, 1:42.740.
Photo Credit: Getty Images