F1 US Grand Prix 2012: Drivers' Quotes, First Photos of Track, Where to Watch Practice Sessions Live

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By Chandrashekar Srinivasan | November 16, 2012 6:11 PM EST

The 2012 Formula 1 World Championship returns to the United States for the first time in five years, with the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the thrill of racing on and discovering a brand-new race track, the race will also see Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso resume their championship fight. Vettel, the defending world champion, heads into the race with a 10 point advantage over the Ferrari driver. The German is also the in-form driver, having won four of the last five races this season.

In the race for the constructors' crown, meanwhile, the Red Bull team have all but sealed a third straight title. The Milton Keynes-based outfit has 422 points to Ferrari's 340 and need only five points from the next two races to take the constructors' honours.

In addition to the thrill of racing on and discovering a brand-new race track, the race will also see Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso resume their championship fight. Vettel, the defending world champion, heads into the race with a 10 point advantage over the Ferrari driver. The German is also the in-form driver, having won four of the last five races this season.

In the race for the constructors' crown, meanwhile, the Red Bull team have all but sealed a third straight title. The Milton Keynes-based outfit has 422 points to Ferrari's 340 and need only five points from the next two races to take the constructors' honours.

As is traditional, the race weekend will consist of five sessions spread over three days. Friday will see the first two practice sessions and these will be the most important of the entire weekend. The Circuit of the Americas (check out a turn-by-turn introduction to the new circuit) will be a green circuit at the start of the weekend, meaning there will be no rubber on track to aid grip and the racing lines and braking points will not be as clearly marked and known as a regularly used track. Expect initial laps to be all about drivers feeling their way around a lap and times to drop dramatically in the second practice session of the day.

"A new circuit is always an interesting challenge. You approach it in a very different way from a track you've visited before - Thursday's track walk and those first laps are all about exploration and understanding as you gather information from lots of different sources in a bid to build up a complete picture of the track and what's required to get the best from it," McLaren's Jenson Button explained, adding, "You can see elements of the Maggotts/Becketts complex from Silverstone; there's a reverse of Istanbul Park's Turn Eight, too; and I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield, too."

The mention about the Becketts complex and the Hockenheim infield was also made by Sahara Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Vettel touched on the elevation changes; the highest point on the track is 40ft above the lowest.

"I have been in the simulator learning the Austin track; how it flows and getting a general feel for it. What we know from designer Hermann Tilke is that the hallmark of the circuit will be the big differences in altitude. The site has natural elevation changes, which promises a fast course with difficult corners," the German said.

Meanwhile, Ferrari's Felipe Massa described the track as having a little bit of every other Formula 1 venue in the world.

"...you have crazy corners like Turn 1, which goes uphill with blind apex and then suddenly you are going down into a high speed sector with big changes of direction. The first sector can remind you of Suzuka or Silverstone and then you get to corners which seem to copy turns in India and Korea," the Brazilian told his team's Web site, adding, "There's very long straight and then some more interesting turns with double apex, which are not easy. Another corner is like Turkey's Turn 8, although with three apex instead of four."

The engineers and technical directors for the teams are concerned about downforce and other set-up aspects like suspension settings, wing levels, gear ratios, etc. all of which they will have to learn and adapt to in real-time, as the drivers complete more and more laps.

"It's a similar overall downforce level used on the car, but it's a very different circuit from Yas Marina. There is a much wider range of corner types. Austin has a series of flowing fast corners which doesn't exist in Abu Dhabi, then there are some slow chicanes which do. The diversity of corners means that it's a much sterner overall test of the car," James Allison, Lotus' technical director, told the sport's Web site.

Finally, tyres, as ever, will be critical. Tyre suppliers Pirelli will bring P Zero Silver (hard) and P Zero White (medium) compounds for this race, suggesting they expect tyre degradation to be on the slightly higher side. In addition, the conservative choice of compounds also means Pirelli themselves are unsure about how their rubber will react to the circuit and the FIA has sanctioned the use of an additional set of hard compound tyres for each of Friday's free practice session.

"We've chosen the hard and the medium compounds as we think it will be quite a demanding track, based on the asphalt samples and simulation data we have gathered," Paul Hembery, the French company's motorsport director explained, also adding that the hairpin Turn One and the sequence of corners immediately after, to Turn Six, would put tremendous energy loads on both the car and the tyres.

Where to Watch Live

The first practice session will start at 2.45 pm GMT and end at 4.50 pm GMT. The second session will run from 6.45 pm GMT to 9 pm GMT. Live coverage of both sessions will be on Sky Sports F1 HD. You can also follow the sessions through the Live Timing section on the sport's official Web site.

Championship Standings (top five drivers)

  • Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) - 255
  • Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) - 245
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault) - 198
  • Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) - 167
  • Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 165
    • For full standings, click here

Championship Standings (top five constructors)

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