As predicted, it’s Vettel in pole going into the US Grand Prix…

Apologies for being a little late with this, we’ve only just caught up with qualifying thanks to a catastrophic misunderstanding on timings caused by the sheer novelty of an American race…

Still, we’re sure you saw qualifying yourselves, and this is how it stands: we wish we could report any likelihood of it not being a Vettel flag-to-flag victory, but we can’t. Lewis Hamilton might have narrowed the margin to the champion-elect from 1.4secs to just over one tenth over three practice and one qualifying sessions, but the Red Bull RB8 still looks the car. Webber starts third ensuring the run up the ‘Eiger’ to Turn One will be exciting; Remember, Jenson Button said second was a better place to start the race than third.

Behind the first three are a Lotus and a Mercedes, both driven by returning champs. Yup, just when we thought Michael Schumacher was coasting to retirement he not only makes it to Q3, but puts it in the middle. He starts fifth now that the original incumbent of that position — Romain Grosjean — has been knocked back five places for a gearbox change. That means he starts alongside Pastor Maldonado. Yeah. Up that hill. Into that completely blind apex. Hmm. Maybe it won’t be possible to watch all the race live and Homeland.

The top ten (starting order) then is VET, HAM, WEB, RAI, MSC, MAS, HUL, ALO, GRO, MAL. You’ll note that Massa starts ahead of Alonso, which surely wasn’t in the plan. Alonso had new development parts on the car which Gary Anderson claimed on the BBC would clearly not deliver. And that without the wind tunnel results. Does Ferrari know something we don’t? Alonso is saying he can beat Vettel today. Then again he’s been forced in to upbeat denial all year long with that car…

You will have also noticed no Jenson Button in the top ten, after yet another mechanical problem with the McLaren MP4-27. Maybe Ron Dennis was always planning to come to this race, but he had one hell of whoop-ass look on his face when Button retired early from Q2. Button meanwhile, when asked by Jake Humphrey what the problem was, could only reply “Nice shirt.” Like we have said before, there will be blood on the shiny floors of Woking soon.

If Red Bull does take the title today — and that means Alonso finishing fifth or lower if Vettel wins — then really, McLaren and Ferrari need to take a long-hard look. Sure, Adrian Newey has an edge. Nobody would deny that. But he left McLaren for Red Bull and will surely have had plenty of approaches from Ferrari. But he chooses Red Bull because the team works. Ferrari built a defective car this year which its stunningly talented Number One was able to score pragmatically while Red Bull worked out how to get its aero advantage back.

McLaren arrived in Australia all those months with the best car. It maybe still is. To some, it seems the team has let its drivers down badly. One has p*ssed off, and  the other looks p*ssed off, if you’ll excuse our language. McLaren has been here before, last time it started building road cars. We’ll come back to this…

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