Grand Prix of the United States – Qualifying


Two weeks on from the GP of Turkey, which ended with VER 6 points ahead of HAM in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

News:

  • The 2022 calendar was announced – a record 23 races, running from Mar20 (in Bahrain) to Nov20 (in Abu Dhabi); Miami has been added but China was dropped (due to COVID)
  • Aston Martin will replace some components of VET’s power unit, which will mean grid-place penalties
  • Lots of helmet design changes for this weekend, and Red Bull are sporting Acura on their rear wing as that’s Honda’s “prestige brand” in N.America
  • RIC will be dressing up and pretending he’s a cowboy – no, wait, that’s not news because he does it every time they’re in Texas 🙂

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:34.874), HAM, VER, LEC, SAI, GAS, PER, NOR, GIO RAI
    Almost as soon as the session starts ALO is told to stop the car – sounds like a hydraulic problem with his Alpine
    Red flag – session suspended so ALO’s car can be recovered
    NOR reports that his battery recharge lights aren’t working
    LEC spins across the gravel but keeps it out of the barriers and rejoins the track
    NOR complains of a lot of front and rear locking
    Mercedes report that BOT will take yet another engine and therefore a 5-place grid penalty; RUS also penalties for engine changes in his Williams
    Radio from HAM, “Lots of overheating, on the rears particularly”
    MAZ spins (surprise!) across the gravel and recovers
    NOR flat-spots his tyres and has to box
    Alpine have fixed the problem and send ALO out for the last few minutes of FP1
    Christian Horner continues stirring a rumour by suggesting Mercedes are running a higher engine mode
    PER goes inside SCH but then SCH turns in and they make contact
    Incident involving PER and SCH “noted” by the stewards
    Radio from SCH suggests he didn’t see PER, sounds resigned to getting a penalty
    Home-team Haas prop up the bottom of the timing sheet

  2. FP2: PER (1:34.946), NOR, HAM, BOT, RIC, STR, LEC, VER, SAI, GIO
    Radio from NOR reporting something has come loose by his left elbow; pits so the team can investigate
    HAM and VER are side-by-side on the main straight; VER gesticulates and calls HAM a “stupid idiot” [video]
    LEC reports something moving around by his feet
    STR goes P2 but then reports he has something in his eye
    VER whining about the traffic
    Soft tyres don’t seem to be lasting very long
    ALO spins, across the gravel and taps the tyre wall with his rear wing
    Chequered flag
    GIO missed the pit lane! Has to reverse then turn around – whoops!

  3. FP3: PER (1:34.701), SAI, VER, NOR, BOT, HAM, RIC, GAS, LEC, OCO
    ALO, on soft tyres, first to set a lap time – 1:40.977
    HAM 1:35.814 on softs
    BOT 1:35.556 … but his time’s deleted for exceeding track limits
    Sounds like ALO will take new engine components and the associated grid penalties
    HAM 1:35.571
    VER 1:35.207
    BOT loses the tail in Turn 7, spins
    RUS spins in Turn 5, calls himself a “bit over-optimistic”
    VER 1:34.912
    BOT finally puts in a lap time, goes P2
    SAI 1:34.805
    Red Bull have replaced the rear wing on VER’s car
    LEC runs wide; his lap time is deleted
    PER 1:34.701
    LEC has a big twitch coming out of the hairpin
    VER 1:34.383 … but his time’s deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19
    HAM 1:34.458 … but his is deleted too at Turn 9
    VER gesticulation again – this time it’s at a Haas; “I need to buy everyone glasses”

Grid penalties so far for BOT, VET, ALO and RUS

Apparently the reason Red Bull changed VER’s rear wing was they found a crack; 15mins before quali starts and they still seem to be working on it … and PER’s car too!

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 29°C; track 37°C
FIA say risk of rain during Qualifying is 40%
Lights turn green to make the start of Q1
Radio from STR asking why they’ve sent him out so early; “We think it’s going to be busy” presumably referring to the risk of rain
MAZ 1:37.894 but his time’s deleted for exceeding track limits
SCH 1:37.241
LEC 1:35.281
VER 1:34.521
(PER P2)
(BOT P3)
(HAM P4)
RIC 1:34.407
(NOR P3)
VET angry at a Haas getting in his way – it was MAZ
(SAI P4)
VER 1:34.352
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are ALO, LAT, SCH, RAI, MAZ
Incident involving VET and MAZ “noted” by the stewards
Brief yellow – GIO spun in Turn 2 and recovered
Chequered flag
RAI P18
LEC 1:34.153
LAT P15, OCO to P16
OCO P13, LAT P16
ALO P15, STR P16
MAZ P20
SCH P19
Back of the grid: STR, LAT, RAI, SCH, MAZ

Qualifying session 2
Mercedes send their pair out on medium tyres, with BOT ahead of HAM
BOT 1:33.959
HAM 1:33.797
VER 1:33.464
(LEC P3)
(NOR P3)
PER and RIC have their times deleted
Everyone running on medium tyres so far except SAI, TSU and ALO
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are PER, RIC, RUS, VET, GIO (none have set a time yet)
PER only manages P7 – is he fuelled for another lap?
RIC P9
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are TSU, GIO, ALO, VET, RUS
GIO P12
ALO P13
TSU P10, OCO P11
VET P12
RUS P13 but it’s deleted so he has no time
Middle of the grid: OCO, VET*, GIO, ALO*, RUS*
*Reminder: there are grid penalties for BOT, VET, ALO and RUS for engine changes

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between VER, HAM, NOR, LEC, BOT, SAI, PER, GAS, RIC and TSU
Radio for HAM, confirming the wind has picked up
HAM 1:33.564
BOT 1:33.475
NOR P3
GAS P4
RIC P3
TSU P6
SAI P3
LEC P4
VER 1:33.199
PER 1:33.180
Order after first run: PER, VER, BOT, HAM, SAI, LEC, RIC, NOR, GAS, TSU
4mins left; Mercedes send out BOT and HAM
The Red Bull pair are the last to leave the pit lane
Radio for NOR, “If rain comes, we think it’ll hit Turn One first”
Chequered flag
BOT P3
HAM 1:33.119
Reports of rain in the pit lane
GAS P9
NOR P6
SAI P5
RIC P6
LEC P5
TSU P10
VER 1:32.910
PER P3
Front of the grid: VER, HAM, PER, BOT*, LEC, SAI, RIC, NOR, GAS, TSU

Interviews:
VER: “It was quite exciting out there, in Q3 my first lap wasn’t amazing. In the final lap, I started slipping, there was a bit of drizzle, I wasn’t sure I could hold on to my lap time. P1 and P3 for the team is a strong result. We’ll work together as a team to get the best possible result.”
HAM: “I gave it everything today, a bit of a struggle through qualifying. Since FP1 we fell backwards a bit. I was happy with my Q3 lap, it was everything I had. Mindset tomorrow is to win this race.”
PER: “We were really close, on that final lap… Unfortunately it wasn’t as good throughout the lap, the rain hit me too hard in the final sector, I lost a bit of grip. Tomorrow is a very long race, there will be a lot of degradation on these tyres. I’m looking forward to it!”

Provisional grid: VER, HAM, PER, BOT*, LEC, SAI, RIC, NOR, GAS, TSU, OCO, VET*, GIO, ALO*, RUS*, STR, LAT, RAI, SCH, MAZ
*BOT will drop to P9; VET, ALO and RUS will drop to P18, 19 and 20 respectively

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]