United States GP practice as it happened

Text and video highlights of first and second practice for the United States GP, where Sebastian Vettel is fastest.

16 November 2012 Last updated at 20:48 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 2045: 

    So that's just about it from me. Thanks very much for your company and contributions, as always, and I do hope to see you tomorrow for live text coverage of final practice and the all-important qualifying hour for the United States Grand Prix. Until then, have a great evening and I'll see you tomorrow at 1430 GMT. See ya.

  2. 2040: 

    Here's Andrew Benson's second practice report and do keep an eye on the website later this evening for a video highlights package of all the action. We'll also have plenty of analysis and reaction, too. There will be no Inside F1 this weekend, though, because of the time difference.

  3. 2038: 

    So it looks like Red Bull have the edge on pace - like they have done in the last five races - with Sebastian Vettel looking mighty despite his problems with the car in second practice. The McLarens looked strong on race pace, while championship contender Fernando Alonso was right in the mix.

  4. 2036: 

    And here's 13-24:

    13) Grosjean 14) Perez 15) Ricciardo 16) Vergne 17) Hulkenberg 18) Di Resta 19) Kovalainen 20) Glock 21) Petrov 22) Pic 23) De la Rosa 24) Karthikeyan

  5. 2034: 

    Here's how they finished 1-12:

    1) Vettel 2) Webber 3) Alonso 4) Hamilton 5) Button 6) Massa 7) Rosberg 8) Senna 9) Kobayashi 1) Schumacher 11) Raikkonen 12) Maldonado

  6. 2032: 


  7. 2031: 

    Williams tell Pastor Maldonado to stop the car as he enters the pit lane. He does so, slotting it into neutral and rolling down towards his garage. Replays show that a flame burst out from the right hand side of the engine.

  8. 2030: 

    Sebastian Vettel is not invincible as the German locks his front left and runs wide, taking to the escape road at Turn 12. No real harm done, apart from his pride, and the championship leader continues on his way.

  9. 2026: 

    Long runs look to be the order of the day to end this session which means Sebastian Vettel looks set to do the double in Austin. Encouragingly for the race, Lewis Hamilton looks very quick on with a heavy car.

  10. 2023: 

    It's been a good performance from Bruno Senna who is currently eighth fastest in the Williams. He's 1.8 seconds off the pace, but 1.8 seconds faster than his team-mate Pastor Maldonado. That'll boost his confidence.

  11. 2020: 

    Every single car is out on track now as we enter the final 10 minutes of the session. Sebastian Vettel leads the way by seven tenths of a second from Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

  12. 2016: 

    It looks like Mercedes have filled up Michael Schumacher's car with fuel to get some data on long runs as he's lapping around 10 seconds slower than he was earlier in the session.

  13. 2013: 

    Felipe Massa gets some advice from race engineer Rob Smedley about how to tackle Turn One. It seems he's braking later than his team-mate and turning which is something the Pirelli tyres don't like to do. Alonso keeps the tyres more straight he is told.

  14. 2010: 

    Clearly, there's no stopping Sebastian Vettel. The German spent much of this session sitting around while his team fixed a water leak. That would put many drivers on the back foot, especially when racing at a brand new track, but not Seb. Nope, he just flicks the visor down, gets into the zone and puts the hammer down. The German leads the field by seven tenths of a second. Yes, seven tenths of a second. Crikey.

  15. 2008: 

    So Mark Webber leads from Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Bruno Senna, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.


    Ferrari on Twitter:‏ "It looks difficult to make the options work for Fernando."

  17. 2006: 

    Lewis Hamilton improves to the second fastest time, just under three tenths of a second off the pace. It's a decent first lap back on track from Sebastian Vettel, too, as the German clocks a 1:38.894 to go fourth quickest, four tenths off the pace.

  18. 2004: 

    It looks like Red Bull have fixed Sebastian Vettel's car as the reigning world champion is back out on track. The German has only completed five laps, while the majority of the rest of the field have completed 20 laps or more.

  19. 2002: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne has lost part of his front wing after Heikki Kovalainen cuts across him in the Caterham. The Frenchman waves his hand in frustration, but the Finn has troubles of his own. His left rear tyre has been punctured and and he's got to drive most of the lap with the rubber hanging off the rim if he is to return to the pits.

  20. 1958: 

    It's another improvement on his next lap for Webber as the Australian goes even faster, shaving another four tenths off his previous best to extend his lead to half a second. That's approximately three tenths slower than his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel managed this morning.

  21. 1954: 

    Mark Webber of Red Bull puts on a set of medium tyres and takes top spot away from Ferrari's Felipe Massa with a time of 1:38.958.

  22. 1951: 

    Kamui Kobayashi isn't having the best of times either. The Japanese driver has parked up his Sauber while the team fix a broken exhaust.


    Peter Thomas on Twitter:‏ "I think this track is quickly going to be one of the classics - it's right up there with Spa & Suzuka. If only it had Spa weather..."

  24. 1948: 

    It's been a while since I've written this, but Felipe Massa has gone quickest in the Ferrari. The Brazilian goes two tenths quicker than Mark Webber's Red Bull, with his team-mate Fernando Alonso a couple of tenths further back in third.

  25. 1945: 

    Lewis Hamilton has a big snap of oversteer and spins the McLaren round. Lovely control, though, as he keeps the rear tyres lit up so he can keep the car rotating and pointing back in the right direction. That lap is obviously ruined, but no real damage done.

  26. 1943: 

    Red Bull confirm that Sebastian Vettel's car has suffered a water leak. The German is still out of the car while mechanics mop up the floor with paper towels.

  27. 1940: 

    Webber goes even quicker on his next lap, putting two tenths between him and Alonso after the Spaniard fails to improve despite setting the fastest middle sector of all.

  28. 1937: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber is our new leader. The Australian clocks a 1:39.485 to head Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by just 0.005 seconds.


    Lilli in Herts, via text: "I've fallen for CoTA quicker than a Red Bull in qualifying. SUCH a beautiful circuit!"

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull is up on its stands and the floor [of the car] is unceremoniously on the floor. They're working hard and fast to sort this problem with five or six mechanics underneath the car but I don't think he's getting out anytime soon."

  31. 1933: 

    Good picture from Williams on Twitter here which shows the huge turnout in Austin - and this is only practice...


    James on Twitter: "I predict massive first corner crash! That first corner, skippy track, blind bend it's going to be wild."

  33. 1931: 

    The medium tyre - the softer of the two compounds available in Austin this weekend - have been bolted on to the Caterhams of Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov. That'll be the first time we've seen that rubber this weekend.

  34. 1929: 

    Felipe Massa has hooked up a tidy lap to go second quickest, two tenths slower than Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. Romain Grosjean has slotted into eighth in the Lotus, ahead of a strong showing from Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo.

  35. 1926: 

    Hmmm, looks like the problem on Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull might take a while longer than the team first expected as the German has now climbed out of the car while the engineers continue to work on the car.

  36. 1923: 

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow reports Sauber's Sergio Perez was given a reprimand for blocking Timo Glock in the Marussia during first practice.

  37. 1920: 

    Felipe Massa sets personal bests in all three sectors to go sixth quickest, nine tenths off the pace and around four tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. Nico Rosberg retains the quickest time, ahead of Mark Webber and Alonso.

  38. 1917: 

    After Sebastian Vettel set his early quick lap, he headed straight back to the pits. It has since emerged that his Red Bull team were concerned about a problem with the car's water system. The mechanics are hard at work at the moment, while the championship leader can only sit in the cockpit and wait.

  39. 1912: 

    Fernando Alonso's Ferrari looks a bit of a handful, but the Spaniard still manages to get a lap time out of it as he goes quickest. Seconds later, Mark Webber and then Nico Rosberg knock the championship contender down a couple of pegs. Very competitive out there at the moment.

  40. 1910: 

    But Hamilton's next effort is good enough, just. It's 0.046 seconds quicker. His time at the top doesn't last long, though, as Mark Webber and then Jenson Button go quickest. Nice and close at the top at the moment, with just 0.06 seconds splitting the top three.

  41. 1908: 

    Lewis Hamilton's first effort is eighth tenths slower than Vettel's best which puts him second fastest overall, ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Jenson Button.

  42. 1906: 

    Bang. Sebastian Vettel wastes no time in taking his place at the top of the timesheets in the Red Bull - but it's still some way of the pace he set in the first session.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "Everyone expects Red Bull to continue their recent dominant form this weekend but Mark Webber said it might not be as simple as that. All the recent races Red Bull have dominated have been held in hot conditions, but it's only about 19-20C in Austin this weekend, which may well have an impact on the way the tyres work. Webber said: '[Track] layout is not very important; temperatures are. If the black things on the corners are not working then [the car] is not going to work.'"

  44. 1904: 

    Sergio Perez sets the early pace with a 1:43.418, 3.3 seconds quicker than Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have just headed out on track.

  45. 1900: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Second practice is up and running at the Circuit of the Americas with Jean-Eric Vergne the first man out on track in his Toro Rosso.

  46. 1855: 

    A huge number of Mexican fans have made the trip over to show their support for Sergio Perez in the Sauber. They've come armed with Mexican flags and a cheesy cardboard cutout of their hero.

  47. 1852: 

    Well that will be encouraging news for Vettel's rivals, particularly Ferrari and Fernando Alonso. Not long to go until second practice starts, just eight minutes in fact, with Ben Edwards and John Watson just three minutes away with 5 live commentary which will be available online.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "Sebastian Vettel rather made jaws drop with his lap at the end of first practice - 1.4secs quicker than Lewis Hamilton in second place. But the lap was not as impressive as it at first appears - the Red Bull was on effectively a new set of tyres; they had done only an installation lap. McLaren, for one team, seemed unperturbed."

  49. 1847: 

    Things are starting to hot up over in Austin, with the air temperature up from 12C this morning (local time) to 20C while the track temperature has doubled to 30C. Expect the times to tumble this afternoon as the track rubbers in and the teams try out the softer tyres.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "Some readers may be aware of a bit of a controversy in recent days over a video from Abu Dhabi of the Red Bull nose showing some alarming-looking flexibility. The film shows the nose cone of Sebastian Vettel's behaving as if it is made of rubber as a mechanic replaces the one the German damaged in the race - he grabs the cameras on either side and the nose bends like the beak of Rod Hull's Emu puppet.

    "Race director Charlie Whiting was asked about it in a news conference on Thursday and he said there was a 'logical' explanation. The forward 50mm of the cars' noses are deliberately not as rigid as the rest to aid in impact absorption. Whiting said the 'extreme' movement seen in the video was because the mechanic was using the cameras to remove the nose, and hence applying more force to it. He added that the Red Bull nose was 'no more flexible than any other car's in that area'."

  51. 1842: 

    One thing that is pretty much a foregone conclusion this weekend is that Red Bull will clinch their third constructors' championship. The Milton-Keynes based team hold an 82 point lead over Ferrari with just 86 left on the table.

  52. 1839: 

    So who do you think will shine in the Lone Star state this weekend? Can Sebastian Vettel clinch the world title this weekend and in doing so become the youngest ever triple world champion? Or will Fernando Alonso pull another big performance out of the bag to keep the title battle alive until the final race at Interlagos, Brazil, next weekend? Let me know your thoughts.

    Get in touch using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only). Fire away.

  53. 1836: 

    I've got good news, folks. Yep, our multimedia bod Tom has been hard at work since first practice finished and the result is a shiny highlights package of the first F1 session on the Circuit of the Americas. Enjoy.

  54. 1833: 

    A very warm welcome to our live text coverage of second practice the 2012 United States Grand Prix, round 19 of 20 at a new purpose-built track in southeast Austin. I've got 90 minutes of practice coming up for you at 1900 GMT and you can expect the teams to roll out the softer of the two compound tyres for the first time this weekend.

  55. 1830: 

    The battle to crack the US of A continues as Formula 1 prepares for second practice ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the brand new Circuit of the Americas.

    Reigning world champion and championship leader Sebastian Vettel smashed it in first practice earlier today, lapping the 5.516km track 1.4 seconds quicker than anyone else. Can Ferrari and Fernando Alonso respond to that sensational pace? Stick with me, we're about to find out.

  56. 1645: 

    Now I reckon you've got just enough time to finish off the last bits of work, pack up your things and rush off home to get back in time for second practice which begins at 1900 GMT.

    I'll be back from 1830, because I'm super keen, to build up to the 90-minute session and will be supplemented by Ben Edwards and John Watson in the commentary box from 1855. See you in a bit.

  57. 1640: 

    Here's Andrew Benson's first practice report from Austin which will get you up to speed. I also want to draw your attention to this video of F1's most memorable moments in America which includes BBC Radio 5 live F1 analyst John Watson's epic drive from 22nd to victory at Long Beach in 1983.

  58. 1638: 

    And here's 13-24:

    13) Vergne 14) Raikkonen 15) Grosjean 16) Maldonado 17) Schumacher 18) Pic 19) Kovalainen 20) Petrov 21) Glock 22) Senna 23) De la Rosa 24) Ma

  59. 1636: 

    Here's how they finished 1-12:

    1) Vettel 2) Hamilton 3) Alonso 4) Button 5) Webber 6) Massa 7) Hulkenberg 8) Kobayashi 9) Rosberg 10) Perez 11) Di Resta 12) Ricciardo

  60. 1634: 

    So championship leader Sebastian Vettel - who is celebrating his 100th grand prix this weekend - looks blistering quick. The German finished a staggering 1.4 seconds quicker than anyone else.

  61. 1632: 


  62. 1631: 

    Sebastian Vettel takes another lump out of his previous best to increase his advantage at the top of the timesheets. Ominous.

  63. 1630: 

    The United States Grand Prix is live here online and on 5 live this weekend, with TV highlights for qualifying and the race.

    Live text and audio commentary on second practice is at 1900 GMT and at 1500 tomorrow for final practice. Qualifying is online and 5 live Sports Extra at 1755 GMT, with TV highlights on BBC One at 2100.

    The race on Sunday is live online and 5 live at 1855, with TV highlights at 2225 to 0025 - that's two hours. Yeee haw!

  64. 1629: 

    Boom. Just as I say that, Sebastian Vettel rips six tenths of a second off the leading time to go quickest of all. Blistering from the championship leader. That appears to have riled Lewis Hamilton with the McLaren driver just pulling out of his garage in an attempt to respond.

  65. 1626: 

    Mark Webber improves to fifth fastest, with Felipe Massa slotting into sixth but no one challenging Lewis Hamilton at the top of the tree at the moment.

  66. 1624: 

    The grandstands are looking pretty busy for a Friday practice which is a pretty encouraging start for the debut race at the Circuit of the Americas. Turn 19 is the place to be, though, because everyone is going off there at the moment. Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez are the latest to fly off the track after missing the apex.

  67. 1621: 

    Hamilton cleans his tyres up, regroups and goes again after his incident with Michael Schumacher. This time, there are no slow former champions in front of him and Hamilton hooks up a beautiful lap to break into the 1m39s, slicing nearly half a second off his previous best. Brilliant stuff from the 2008 world champion.

  68. 1619: 

    Lewis Hamilton is forced to run wide to avoid clattering into the back of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes. It looks like the Briton didn't anticipate Schumacher to be so slow on the exit of Turn Nine and dives to the right, bouncing across the dirt before rejoining the track.

  69. 1616: 

    Fernando Alonso was a huge four tenths of a second up on Lewis Hamilton's leading pace after the first sector, but the Spaniard is forced to back off as he approached a stationary Heikki Kovalainen who spun his Caterham.

  70. 1613: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes quickest with a 1:40.116, two tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull. Fernando Alonso has improved to third, ahead of Jenson Button and a strong showing from Kamui Kobayashi.

  71. 1608: 

    Pastor Maldonado has a huge moment at Turn 19, the Williams slithering well wide as he struggles with the unusual camber of the track. The Venezuelan isn't alone, though, with several of his colleagues struggling to keep it on the grey stuff at that corner.

  72. 1605: 

    The flurry of improvements has eased off a bit, with Lewis Hamilton enjoying a decent stint at the top of the charts in his McLaren. Jenson Button rides shotgun in second, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Fernando Alonso has just gone out and he has a new specification of turning vanes under the chassis, the ones they raced in Abu Dhabi. He's also put on a new set of the harder tyres."


    Colum Harkin on Twitter: "Would love to see a big performance from Schumi this weekend on his penultimate start. Hopefully the Mercedes can deliver some pace."

  75. 1600: 

    McLaren's Jenson Button reports that the car had too much understeer through the esses. In the low speed corners, he said the front is locking on the entry and the rear is shuddering on the exit.

  76. 1556: 

    The cars are skidding all over the place on the slippery brand new Circuit of the Americas' Tarmac. Kobayashi, Vettel and Hamilton have all been on off-track excursions. 1 Hamilton 2 Button 3 Alonso 4 Rosberg 5 Schumacher 6 Vettel 7 Kobayashi 8 Grosjean 9 Di Resta 10 Massa

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "Two races in eight days will decide the destiny of the 2012 world championship - and possibly just the three days here. Fernando Alonso, who did so incredibly to lead the championship for so long this season, knows the odds are against him with rival Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull a faster car and the German 10 points ahead. This is the fifth time in his career that Alonso has been in contention for the title at the end of the season, and he says he is better prepared than ever and insists the tension is not getting to him. 'Much more relaxed, much more focused,' he said. 'In these last two races I feel completely normal so I think it is a good experience. It is the fifth time we fight for championship until last race and you feel much different, more concentrated. If you do everything perfect you have a chance; if you lose it you don't have a chance…'"

  78. 1553: 

    Lewis Hamilton gets a bit lost at Turn One, losing control of the car on the very steep uphill entry, sliding the rear out and missing the apex by a mile before collecting it. That lap is ruined, but it's all part of the learning experience.

  79. 1550: 

    Fernando Alonso goes fastest in his Ferrari, clocking a 1:40.603 to lead Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. The Mercedes are showing good early pace, with Nico Rosberg fourth ahead team-mate Michael Schumacher who is competing in the penultimate race of his career.

  80. 1546: 

    Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that he loves America, likening it to his second home as he spends so much time there with his popstar girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. And to pay tribute to the American fans, the McLaren racer has painted the stars and strips on the top of his lid.

  81. 1543: 

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson suggested on Thursday that it will take drivers around eight to 10 laps to get accustomed to the new layout, but it looks like the big guns are all over this new track within four or five. Lewis Hamilton has broken into the 1m40s with a stunning lap to lead Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa.


    Sauber on Twitter: "#COTA is a great track - almost like a roller coaster, you can get dizzy by watching the onboard cameras."

  83. 1541: 

    The track is evolving all the time with Fernando Alonso taking full advantage by going quickest in his Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton is demoted to second, a tenth off the pace, with Sebastian Vettel another tenth behind.

  84. 1539: 

    But that doesn't last long as Lewis Hamilton shaves a whole second off Mark Webber's best to go quickest of all in his shiny silver McLaren. Nico Rosberg - who will partner Hamilton at Mercedes next year - goes second quickest, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Webber.

  85. 1537: 

    Red Bull have a strangehold on the top of the timesheets at the moment, with Mark Webber leading the way on a 1:43.672 and championship leader Sebastian Vettel riding shotgun.


    McLaren on Twitter: "Lewis ALWAYS bounces back. He never gives up. That's what makes him unique!"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "As usual, the big teams all have updates here. McLaren have a new front wing that they tried in last week's Abu Dhabi young driver test. Ferrari have 'a few small bits and pieces' and doubtless Red Bull will, too. Mercedes, meanwhile, are going to run Nico Rosberg's car without their new exhaust design for a while. They introduced the McLaren/Ferrari/Red Bull 'Coanda' approach - which uses the exhaust for aerodynamic effect - quite recently and team boss Ross Brawn said they wanted some more comparison data to aid preparations for 2013. Gary Anderson will keep his eyes peeled for new parts throughout this first day of practice."


    Ross Anderson on Twitter: "Looks like the drivers would have more grip at a water park than they do on circuit just now."

  89. 1533: 

    And as I hit return on that last entry, Mark Webber becomes the first man into the 1m44s. Paul di Resta, who took our man Andrew Benson with him on his track walk on Thursday, has popped his Force India into third ahead of Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna. We've yet to see a timed lap from the two title contenders - Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

  90. 1530: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is back on top, eclipsing Mark Webber's time by a few thousandths of a second. It's worth noting that while Kobayashi looks like he's really fighting that Sauber, just to keep it pointing in the right direction, Webber looks in complete control. That Red Bull is glued, even on a slippery track.

  91. 1527: 

    The times are tumbling, with Mark Webber deposing Kamui Kobayashi at the top of the charts. The Australian keeps his Red Bull in check and clocks a 1:45.8.

  92. 1524: 

    And Narain Karthikeyan almost didn't arrive in time for practice. The HRT driver was stuck in India because fog prevented his plane from taking off. The Indian did eventually get away and landed in Austin late on Thursday.

  93. 1522: 

    There were also question marks over whether the HRT was safe to drive, with reports from Spain suggesting the team didn't have enough spare parts.

    However, veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa dismissed those claims. "It's something I'm not aware of. All I can say is we are a small team, we are what we are, but we are a professional Formula 1 team and when we start running it's because the car is safe. I'm experienced enough that I would never jump into an unsafe car because of parts being too old. The answer is, the car is slow, but it's safe."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "Times are tough at back-of-the-grid HRT. This week the owners of the team said it was up for sale and now it has emerged that the drivers will be restricted in mileage in practice today. Chinese reserve driver Ma Qing Hua will be allowed only 12 laps in first practice and Narain Karthikeyan, whose car he uses, will get only eight in second practice."

  95. 1520: 

    For those of you asking, it's pretty chilly out in Austin at the moment. The air temperature is just 12C with the track temperature 16C - but it is expected to get higher as the day goes on.

  96. 1518: 

    Kamui Kobayashi improves to a 1:48.517, with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen slotting into second, three seconds off the early pace.


    Jon Gibbins on Twitter: "I hope this new US racetrack will kickstart a great followship of F1 in the Americans. If this doesn't nothing will..."

  98. 1515: 

    Kobayashi makes history by completing the first flying lap at this track - 1:54.846 - but it's around 12 seconds slower than the best time expected to be set here.

  99. 1514: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is really fighting his Sauber at the moment. The white and blue machine is snaking around as the tyres struggle for any grip. This is a brand new circuit, though, so it will take some time for the rubber to be laid down.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "McLaren have quite a few updates. Lewis has the new front wing and the old wing is on Jenson Button's car. The new wing looks a lot simpler - instead of having four elements on it approaching the end-plate, it now has only two."

  101. 1510: 

    Michael Schumacher's Mercedes catches fire as he prepares to head out of the garage. Thankfully, his mechanics are on hand and have the extinguishers on it in super quick time.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "So far, the drivers' only experience of the Circuit of the Americas has been in their teams' simulators but to a man they are looking forward to getting out there and experiencing it for real. 'Even though you drive the simulator,' Lewis Hamilton said, 'it's still a new circuit, and it's tough to learn. Learning the track this weekend, trying to dial in the car, is going to be the real test for us. Our simulator is great. It's quite realistic, but we don't have any g-force. (Up the steep hill into) Turn One looks incredible. You can't even see the apex. Trying to find the line for it will be challenging. I think it will be a historic corner at some stage.'"

  103. 1507: 

    Force India's Nico Hulkenberg reports that there's no grip out there, something Sebastian Vettel ably demonstrates when he gets a big snap of oversteer coming into the pits before catching it.

  104. 1505: 

    Felipe Massa is the first man to start a flying lap. The Brazilian is on course to make history and set the first time tour of this 20-turn track, but he peels off and returns to his garage.

  105. 1503: 

    The track is very slippery at the moment, with Glock and Kobayashi both getting caught out in separate incidents. No bother, though, as there's plenty of run-off to save their bacon.

  106. 1501: 

    Kimi Raikkonen has the honour of being the first car out on track in his black and gold Lotus, closely followed by Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi.

  107. 1500: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Formula 1 in America is go, go, go!

  108. 1457: 

    The teams will get an extra set of tyres for practice so they can get out on track nice and early and clock up the laps rather than waiting for it to be cleaned up so they can set more representative lap times.

  109. 1455: 

    It's time to get you lot involved. Are you excited about Formula 1 returning to America? Do you think the fans will embrace the sport or will Nascar forever dominate? And what of this sensational track which fuses elements of Suzuka, Istanbul Park and our very own Silverstone?

    Tweet us using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only).

  110. 1450: 

    The Circuit of the Americas is looking beautiful, the 5.516km of freshly laid Tarmac glistening serenely under bright blue skies. We'll be under way in just under 10 minutes, with Ben Edwards and John Watson in the commentary box (you can listen to them by clicking the link at the top right of this page).

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "The Circuit of the Americas is half an hour south-east of Austin, Texas. The two are odd bedfellows. The track, built to the exacting standards of F1's famously fastidious chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is an archetypal modern F1 autodrome with a few interesting twists. Austin is an island of left-wing Bohemia in the solidly conservative state of Texas. So far, though, they seem to be mixing well. The 'Austinites' have welcomed the F1 community with open arms, and the visiting Europeans are thoroughly enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of the city, where every bar seems to have live music and there are far more restaurants than there are Stetsons and cowboy boots."

  112. 1445: 

    All appeared lost until the Lone Star state stepped in, spent around £250m and built an extraordinary track that fuses sections from some of the world's greatest circuits. The highlight is definitely the steep Turn one which rises 130ft from the starting grid to its peak. Remarkable.

  113. 1442: 

    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway offered Bernie a way back when the organisers built an infield road course which used a mile of the venue's famous oval.

    Early signs were encouraging, when 225,000 fans attended the first race in 2000. But the good work was undone by a squabble over tyres in 2005.

    The Michelin tyres were deemed unsafe to race and because the teams couldn't come to a compromise to make adjustments to the track so the race could take place with a full grid, just six cars started.

    The event was held for two more years, but it was too late. The fans had been burned and the contract was not renewed.

  114. 1437: 

    Formula 1 first graced the shores of the USA in 1959 at Sebring in Florida and has since visited eight other venues - Riverside, Long Beach, Watkins Glen, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis and even the car park of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas but it's never really caught on.

    Watkins Glen in New York State did host the race for 20 years between 1961 and 1980, but the rest have merely dabbled with the sport intermittently.


    Force India's Paul di Resta on Twitter: "So, gentleman start your engines.... F1 about to start in the US again."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson in Austin:

    "It's hard to overstate the importance of this weekend's United States Grand Prix. Not only is an intense title battle coming to a climax - Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel can actually win the championship this weekend if results go his way - but Formula 1 is back in America for the first time since 2007. F1 accepts it needs America, even if the feeling is not reciprocated, and everyone in the sport wants this race to work. 'Excited,' Jenson Button said. 'We've been away for five years but I think this is the right time for us to come back to see if Americans will take to our sport. I think they will. This circuit is built for us, to show what a Formula 1 car can do. Indy was a great venue - but great for Nascar and Indy. We like high-speed corners, which is spectacular and what fans will love.'"

  117. 1433: 

    Welcome, one and all, to our live coverage of the United States Grand Prix from the brand spanking new Circuit of the Americas, located in southeast Austin. It's the 10th venue to host the US GP but first to be purpose-built to host Formula 1. There's quite a lot riding on this race being a success, then...

  118. 1430: 

    After 18 sensational races, just 10 points separate the two title contenders - Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso - as we arrive in Cowboy country - Austin, Texas - for the returning United States Grand Prix and the penultimate race of the season.

    Alonso has driven the wheels of his sluggish Ferrari to keep himself in title contention, but he faces an uphill battle to beat Vettel, whose Red Bull is the fastest machine on the grid.

    Put simply, the Spaniard must finish ahead of Vettel to keep the title challenge alive going to the final race in Brazil. Time to lick those lips, it's about to get interesting...

FIA Formula 1 World Championsh 2015

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 43
2 Germany S Vettel Ferrari 40
3 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 33
4 Brazil F Massa Williams 20
5 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 12
6 Brazil F Nasr Sauber 10
7 Finland V Bottas Williams 10
8 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 9
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 6
10 M Verstappen Toro Rosso 6
11 C Sainz Toro Rosso 6
12 Sweden M Ericsson Sauber 4
13 Russia D Kvyat Red Bull 2
14 Mexico S Perez Force India 1
15 France R Grosjean Lotus 0
16 Great Britain J Button McLaren 0
17 R Merhi Manor Marussia F1 0
18 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
20 Spain F Alonso McLaren 0
21 W Stevens Manor Marussia F1 0


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham