Team Ferrari work continuously through the night to get their cars ready - with a whole raft of new equipment that may not be entirely legal - breaking the 'agreement' amongst the teams not to work in that way - not a rule just an agreement - but the FIA will be looking into it, especially as Ferrari have done thie twice so far this year !!
The McLaren's have been looking quick during free practice, and could play a significant role during the race in keeping the championship leaders apart. Because Vettel had to stop on track at the end of qualifying, cos of low fuel, the team were not able to provide the FIA with a sample of fuel for testing. The result of which sees Vettel moved to the back of the grid, but the team are starting him from the pit lane, and are still confident he can get points !!
We'll find out in a couple of hours, for now though - qualifying !!
Q1 - Maldonado takes an early top spot, but the faster cars have yet to run. Alonso takes the place, but Maldonado takes it back and so the battle between them begins. Hamilton has a big lock-up and ruins his fast lap. Vettel goes wide and rubs his right rear against the armco, but he can continue andd sets a time. Vergne has a spin, ruining his lap, but keeps it off the wall and can continue. All of the top drivers make it through to Q2 !!
Q2 - As usual the lead keeps changing as drivers set fast laps, but Hamilton takes the top spot with Vettel a close second, until Raikkonen and others push them down the list. Webber goes fast, but Hamilton pushes him down to second. At the end of the session, out go Perez, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Pic, Kobayashi, Senna and Di Resta !!
Q3 - Hamilton throws down the gauntlet and sets a fast lap, putting Vettel second and Webber third. Though the drivers push hard, they can't knock the McLaren off the top spot. So the front of the grid is - 1. Hamilton, 2. Webber, 3. Vettel, 4. Maldonado, 5. Raikkonen, 6. Button, 7. Alonso, 8. Rosberg, 9. Massa and 10. Grosjean. However, cos of Vettel's penalty, everybody below Webber moves forward one place. Should be a good race, especially for Vettel - bring it on !!
Karthikeyan has a problem with one of his tyre blankets, and isn't able to join the formation lap, and will start from the pit lane behind Vettel !!
Lights out and Hamilton makes a fast start, while Webber get's bogged-down on line the line and is passed. Button is passed by Alonso, Senna has a coming-together with Hulkenberg who retires, Grosjean has a front wheel puncture and limps back to the pits. Di Resta also has a puncture, and Rosberg pits for a new nose !!
Lap 2, Raikkonen is right behind Hamilton, but can't make the pass. Vettel radios his pits that he has damage, and the team prepare a new front wing for him if he needs it, but he seems comfortable with his car's balance and continues, overtaking the back markers to go 14th !!
Lap 7, Hamilton has a 7 second lead over Raikkonen in second, with Maldonado close in third. The stewards announce an investigation into the Hulkenberg-Senna incident. Team McLaren radio Button that Webber has no DRS, and Button replied that he doesn't have any, either !!
Lap 9, Rosberg and Karthikeyan have a big coming together launching Rosberg over the top of the other car, and both retire bringing out a safety car, giving all the teams a chance for pit stops if the want !!
Lap 13, Vettel has to swerve hard to avoid Ricciardo and clips a polystyrene marker at the side of the track, doing even more damage to the front wing, and he has to pit for a new nose-cone and new tyres !!
Lap 14, and the safety car pits, restarting the race. Hamilton bunches up the pack, giving him a clean run into the first corner. Alonso goes wide, giving Webber a good chance to pass, but he keeps the place. Vettel quickly moves up through the back markers, and battles with Grosjean for 17th place !!
Lap 19, Hamilton is building his lead again over Raikkonen, while Webber and Alonso have a DRS and KERS battle for 4th place. Lap 20 Hamilton retires with engine trouble, and gives the lead to Raikkonen, who has a good lead over Maldonado, who is passed by Alonso to go into second place !!
Lap 23, Webber makes a passing attempt on Maldonado, but they touch nudging Webber off the circuit, but there's no damage and he can continue, but he drops down a few places. Button passes Maldonado to go third, while Vettel is now up to 10th place. The stewards announce an investigation into the Webber-Maldonado incident !!
Lap 28, Webber is down in 6th place, with team-mate Vettel behind in 7th. Webber makes a pass on Massa, they contact nudging Webber off the track again, but Massa has a big spin and has to pit for new tyres. The stewards announce no further action over the Webber-Maldonado incident !!
Lap 29, Alonso pits, and rejoins behind Vettel. Lap 30 Button pits as does Maldonado, and rejoin behind Alonso. Team Red Bull radio Webber that Vettel is right behind, and not to stop him from passing, however Webber is brought into the pits for new tyres to make the decision for him !!
Lap 32, Race leader Raikkonen pits, and he rejoins in the lead, but Vettel is a close second, with Alonso several seconds back in third, with Button a close fourth. There's some question over the life of Vettel's tyres having run for so long, but Pirelli say he should be ok on the cooling track !!
Lap 37, Vettel is told to pit for new tyres, and he rejoins in 4th place well ahead of Grosjean in 5th. Di Resta passes Perez who tries to retake the place, they contact and Webber hits Grosjean, damaging his car and taking them both out of the race. Perez pits, and the team take a long look at his car. The safety car is brought out again - and this is rapidly turning into a war zone, rather than a race !!
Lap 42, stewards announce an investigation into the Webber-Grosjean incident. Pic pits and retires. The safety car pits, and immediately Raikkonen begins to pull away from Alonso who doesn't seem able to keep up with him !!
Lap 44, stewards give Perez a 10 second stop-go penalty for the incident with Di Resta, and he takes the penalty on the next lap. Lap 48, Raikkonen has a 3 second lead over Alonso in second, with Button in third, and Vettel right behind in fourth !!
Lap 52, Alonso has reeled Raikkonen in by a few tenths of a second, but Raikkonen is comfortable in the lead. Vettel makes the pass over Button, to take second place with Alonso in sight. Again Alonso creeps closer to the leader, with just two laps to go !!
Last lap , and Raikkonen responds to Alonso's attack, and increases the gap between them. Meanwhile Vettel get's the fastest lap, to close up a little with the leader. Last corner, and Raikkonen takes the victory and needless to say he's delighted, with Alonso second and Vettel a very creditable third !!
1. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari
3. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault
4. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes
5. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault
6. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari
7. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari
8. Bruno Senna Brazil Williams-Renault
9. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes
10. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes
12. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari
13. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Caterham-Renault
14. Timo Glock Germany Marussia -Cosworth
15. Vitaly Petrov Russia Caterham-Renault
16. Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT-Cosworth
17. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari
Rtd Charles Pic France Marussia -Cosworth 41 laps completed
Rtd Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 37 laps completed
Rtd Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 37 laps completed
Rtd Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 19 laps completed
Rtd Narain Karthikeyan India HRT-Cosworth 7 laps completed
Rtd Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 7 laps completed
Rtd Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes 0 laps completed
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 255
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari-Ferrari 245
3 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 198
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 167
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 165
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 153
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 95
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes-Mercedes 93
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 90
10 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 66
11 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 58
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 49
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 46
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 43
= Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 43
16 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 30
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 0
= Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 0
= Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 0
= Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 0
= Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 0
= Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 0
= Jerome d'Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 0
1 Red Bull Racing 422
2 Scuderia Ferrari 340
3 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 318
4 Lotus F1 Team 288
5 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 136
6 Sauber F1 Team 124
7 Sahara Force India F1 Team 95
8 Williams F1 Team 73
9 Scuderia Toro Rosso 22
10 Marussia F1 Team 0
= Caterham F1 Team 0
= HRT F1 Team 0
F1 is always a war of attrition but today was exceptional, and considering how many problems Vettel had to overcome - even before the race began - he showed his class in keeping his championship alive. Next race is at the newly-built circuit in Austin, Texas in two weeks' time !!