Vettel pleased with pole in tricky weather conditions

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Sebastian Vettel is pleased to have secured his ninth pole position of the season in Brazil today despite the tricky weather conditions that warranted a forty minute delay before the final part of qualifying.

The German driver did not let the wet conditions get the better of him and secured pole by over six-tenths of a second ahead of compatriot Nico Rosberg. However, Vettel admitted that he was surprised that he was able to use intermediate tires during the final session after the severity of the rain.

“It took a long time for us to get out,” he said. “There was a lot of rain after Q2, and then we needed to wait. If there is too much water on the track it is a shame for the people who wait. I was surprised by how much of the water had gone, I went straight on the intermediates and was able to get a very very good lap in straight away. I tried again on the second to beat that, and was very close, so with both my laps I was very happy, surprised by the margin.”

Vettel was also delighted to have secured the final pole position of the 2013 season given that he had set just one lap time during the final practice session on Saturday morning.

“Great in these conditions to get it all right, we’ve had very little practice and still got the car where we wanted it to be in the end so very happy.”

The four-time world champion is now chasing his ninth consecutive victory in Brazil, and should he win the race, he would equal Alberto Ascari’s long-standing record that was set across two seasons in 1952 and 1953.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.