Sebastian Vettel topped the time charts in free practice Friday at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin and looks primed to move ever closer to defending his Formula One championship title.
The Red Bull driver lapped seventh-tenths of a second clear of teammate Mark Webber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the afternoon session, with McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button well off the pace in fourth and fifth.
Vettel, who is ten points ahead of Alonso in the drivers' championship standings, is expecting an exciting race in Austin.
"Today the most important thing was to get to know the circuit," Vettel said. "At the beginning it was very slippery, almost like driving on ice. I guess it is normal for a new track that there is a lot of construction dirt still on the tarmac which had to be cleared by the running of the cars first.
"So I think everyone was struggling a bit at the first practice session. In the second session we could not run as much as we wanted, but I think that in the end we managed to get two good runs together, with which we had been quite happy.
"Now we hope to be able to make a good step forward overnight, with the evaluation of all the data, to have the right set-up for tomorrow (Saturday)."
The Austin track looked great for the spectators, with the first corner, particularly catching the eye. However, Vettel feels it is not as tricky as it looks. "It is not as wild as it looks," he said. "Compared to Spa's Eau Rouge it is somehow easier, as there you are much faster at its bottom.
"But still it is a different challenge, not only because it is slippery, but also because you only see the apex after you start braking and therefore it is quite easy to miss it and then you have to go wide. But it is a lot of fun."
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