Formula One

 
            === Vettel takes pole for USGP, Alonso starts eighth ===
 
 Austin,  TX (Sports  Network) - Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull has figured out
 the brand new 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas quite well.
 
 After posting the quickest laps in all three practice sessions at COTA, Vettel
 won the pole position for the United States Grand Prix after topping McLaren's
 Lewis   Hamilton  in  Saturday's  qualifying  session.  Vettel,  the  two-time
 defending  Formula One  world champion and current points leader, turned a lap
 in  1 minute,  35.657 seconds for his  sixth pole of the season. It's also the
 young  German's 36th career pole, which places him third on F1's all-time pole
 winners list.
 
 "I'm  very pleased with the result," Vettel said. "We started off on the right
 foot  in  the first practice  (on Friday). It  was extremely slippery to start
 with. The circuit is brand new, and the asphalt is brand new. It takes a while
 for  the track to  come in. It's also quite fun to slide around in a couple of
 the  corners. But (the track surface) just got better throughout, as you could
 see the lap times getting quicker."
 
 Vettel  is scheduled to make his 100th career F1 grand prix start. He made his
 debut  in the  2007 USGP, which was held on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road
 course.  It  was also the  last time F1 competed  in the United States. Vettel
 finished eighth at Indy to become the sport's youngest point scorer. He was 19
 years old at the time.
 
 If Vettel can leave Austin -- the penultimate round on the 2012 F1 calendar --
 with  a lead  of 25  points  or more,  he  will clinch  his third  consecutive
 championship.  He  presently holds  a 10-point  advantage over Fernando Alonso
 from  Ferrari. Alonso qualified ninth but moved up to eighth on the grid after
 fourth-place  qualifier Romain  Grosjean received a five-spot grid penalty for
 an unapproved gearbox change on his Lotus.
 
 Two  weeks ago in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Vettel made an amazing comeback to
 finish  third after  he  had to  start  from the  rear of  the  field. He  had
 qualified third but was later disqualified when race stewards determined there
 wasn't enough fuel in his car to provide a one-liter sample in post-qualifying
 inspection.  Alonso  finished second at Abu  Dhabi to trim three points off of
 Vettel's lead.
 
 "I  think  we saw from the  last race how  things can quickly change, and even
 starting  from  the back,  it does  give you opportunities,  so we'll wait and
 see."
 
 Hamilton's lap time in 1:35.766 was just 0.109 seconds behind Vettel. Hamilton
 started on the pole and won the USGP at Indy in '07.
 
 "Hopefully,  tomorrow we'll get a good start," Hamilton said. "It's so wide in
 turn one that I don't think that much can really go wrong. I don't want to get
 in  the way of Sebastian's race; however, I do want to win. I will try my best
 to get through cleanly."
 
 Vettel's  teammate, Mark  Webber, will  start third,  followed by  Lotus' Kimi
 Raikkonen,  who  won the Abu  Dhabi GP.  Michael Schumacher from Mercedes will
 roll off fifth.
 
 "I'm  pretty happy with qualifying," Webber said. "It's a very tricky venue in
 terms  of  tires. I  was happy with  the last part  of Q3.  We had to manage a
 little bit of a problem with the car, but the two guys ahead of me (Vettel and
 Hamilton) were pretty quick."
 
 Felipe  Massa will  start sixth on the  grid in his Ferrari, followed by Force
 India' Nico Hulkenberg.
 
 Sunday's 56-lap USGP is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. (ET).
 
 11/17 16:12:05 ET

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