RACE DAY

Formula 1: United States Grand Prix qualifying results and race preview

Sebastian Vettel will start fifth. Charles Coates/Getty Images

The expected rain did not come so the teams were treated to their first dry running of the weekend. After the third free practice session Ferrari were at the top of the standings but given that all the teams were truly running test programs to gather data for the qualifying session later in the afternoon, it was impossible to know the true pecking order.

Sebastian Vettel set the early mark in Q1 showing that the speed Ferrari had shown in FP3 was real, however it was soon bettered by both Mercedes. A broken suspension that occurred by driving over the curbs ended Red Bull’s Max Verstappen’s session even though he had gone fast enough to make it to Q2.

During Q2 it became apparent that the top teams were taking a chance with race strategy by attempting to reach Q3 on the Super Soft as opposed to the Ultra Soft Tires. The rule is that for the 10 cars who reach Q3, their race will start on the set of tires used to set the fastest time in Q2. The advantage is that the Super Soft will last much longer than the Ultra Soft which will give those cars more strategic pit stop options. Ferrari decided to try a split strategy with Kimi Raikkonen setting his time on the Ultra Softs whereas Sebastian Vettel matched Mercedes strategy by setting his early hot lap on the Super Softs. Late in the session, both Mercedes, Vettel and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo all set out on a warm up lap on the Ultra Softs, preparing to ensure their matriculation to Q3 if the times set on the Super Softs failed to hold up, but they were all able to pit without needing to better their previous mark.

Hamilton set the initial fastest time on the first timed laps in Q3. He was soon bettered by Raikkonen with Vettel on the hunt in the second hot lap. On the third, Hamilton was able to put down the lap that Ferrari only just missed with the top three of Hamilton, Vettel, and Raikkonen separated by only 7 hundredths of a second. Bottas was fourth by a further three tenths with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing 1.2 seconds back in 5th.

Hamilton scores his record setting 81st pole position, while Kimi Raikkonen will join him on the front row with Sebastian Vettel being moved to fifth on the grid after being forced to serve a three position grid penalty for failing to adequately slow during a red flag.  

Hamilton’s road to his fifth championship is now before him. Vettel must find a way to finish second if Hamilton retains first throughout the race. The Ferrari strategy is clear. Kimi will start in second on the grippier Ultra Soft tires. His job will be to get ahead of Hamilton going into the first turn and hold him up until Vettel can clear the competition. As Formula 1 begins the race with a standing start that has no benefit of any launch control or traction control or any driver aid of any kind, the starts can be unpredictable. Will Hamilton get a clean start in his bid to secure his fifth World Championship, or will Ferrari play spoiler and keep Vettel’s chances alive for another day?

 

Courtesy photo

Ever since I was a young man, I have always had a major interest in car racing. I don't know what it was that drew me to the sport but I have always loved it. Back when I was younger, while other kids loved watching cartoons and animaes, I was different. What I watched was a VHS copy of ESPN's CART year in review from 1996. Every day, I sat next to the TV and memorized all of the finishes and the winners of the races. From that point on, I knew I was an Indycar fan for life. While I was watching the greats like Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi, I promised myself that I would get to ride in an Indycar and now thanks to the great people at Sportsmap and Giant Noise, on Thursday March 21 I got to fulfill a dream of a lifetime.

For some of the people that don't know me, growing up I had a lot of trouble socially. While I didn't necessarily have a hard time talking to people, keeping them around was a whole different story. I struggled with paying attention to other people when talking to them because I could only think about one thing and usually that was racing,

This was especially difficult in my early years of elementary school. Due to my lack of attention span, my parents (especially my mom) did all they could to try and help me have a better time in school. They took me to psychiatrists and I was placed on multiple medications to no avail. In 2002 I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. This was very difficult for me because I was treated differently than anyone else by everyone at my schools due to my disorder. I was placed in smaller classes where the work I had to do seemed to be much less than anyone else. I felt horrible and I felt like I wasn't as smart or as normal as anyone else around me.

The one thing that helped me get through it though was my dream to hopefully ride in one of the indycar's that I watched so much of growing up. At a young age, I always told everyone I knew that one day, I was going to ride in a race-car and while there were many drivers that I told people I was going to ride with, one of the many names I mentioned was racing legend Mario Andretti. Flash forward many years later that time came. After getting into one of the fire suits and putting on one of their helmets I was summoned to which car I would ride in and guess who happened to be driving? Mario Andretti! When I strapped into the car while at that moment I couldn't believe that I had made it, I always knew that if I worked hard, met the right people and never gave up I would be able to achieve the dream I had hoped for and overall, riding in the car was one of the most incredible things to ever have happened to me!

As cliche as it sounds, life is a lot like racing in a way. No matter the obstacle, everyone has to keep going towards the checkered flag. Also like in racing It's essential to have a great team around you and I could not be more grateful for the people I met here at SportsMap, ESPN 97.5 and Giant noise. The people who did the most for me though where my mom,dad and my late grandmother. They did everything in their power to get me to where I am at today while they could have easily told me that there were other careers I should go into they always believed that I could cover motorsports. At the end of the day like in racing, there will always be minor setbacks but as long as you believe that you can win, you will find a way. Don't ever give up on the things you want to do.

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