Mark Webber put up a stern challenge to team mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying ahead of the American Grand Prix, but it was the German who produced the lap when it really mattered.
Going into the final 10 minute session of qualifying, it was Webber who initially held the fastest time. He looked to be heading to a third pole in four races until Vettel produced a stunning final sector on his last lap to take pole position by a tenth of a second.
The Red Bull duo was once again well clear of the chasing pack, with Romain Grosjean taking up his increasingly regular position as best of the rest with third place. After showing strong form in the final practice session, Nico Hulkenberg once again starred and starts from fourth place.
Lewis Hamilton is the best of the Mercedes cars in fifth, but it was a disaster for his team mate, Nico Rosberg. Rosberg failed to progress beyond Q2 for the first time since Germany, and will start tomorrow’s race from thirteenth position. He is promoted one position due to Jenson Button, who had qualified thirteenth, dropping three positions due to a penalty.
Button was downcast after qualifying in which Mexican team mate Sergio Perez comfortably outpaced him. On the week it was confirmed he’ll be leaving McLaren, Perez start in seventh place in tomorrow’s race.
Fernando Alonso is one place ahead in sixth, extracting the maximum performance from the Ferrari once more. Felipe Massa struggled in final practice, and this continued through to qualifying in which he could do no better than fifteenth position.
F1 returnee Heikki Kovalainen progressed to Q3 and starts eighth. The Lotus driver is one place ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who progressed to Q3 for only the second time this season. Rounding out the top ten is Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez.
Daniel Ricciardo just missed out on the top ten and starts eleventh, while Paul di Resta and Jean Eric Vergne were the two others to fail to make it into Q3. They set the twelfth and sixteenth fastest times respectively.
Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado were the two drivers to drop out with the usual suspects in Q1. Meanwhile, it was a close battle between the Caterhams and Jules Bianchi’s Marussia. Giedo van der Garde got the better of Bianchi, with Charles Pic in twenty first position. Bianchi’s team mate, Max Chilton, was ninth tenths off his team mate’s pace and rounds out the twenty-two car grid.