• United States Grand Prix

Start could throw up surprises

ESPN Staff
November 18, 2012 « Reverting to old exhaust costly for Rosberg | Massa grid penalty puts Alonso on clean side of grid »
The tight apex © Sutton Images

F1 drivers are facing several unknowns at the start of the United States Grand Prix with a slot on the dirty side of the grid likely to cost a position or two due to a lack of grip and the tight apex of the first corner holding the potential for a big accident.

On Saturday Felipe Massa said his practice start on the dirty side of the grid was worse than a start in the wet, while the wide but blind first corner will present several options as drivers take different lines.

Asked about his practice start on the dirty side of the grid, Lewis Hamilton, who will start from second on the dirty side, said: "It was really poor and I barely went anywhere. They need to clean the inside because it's just as slippery as when we started driving yesterday [Friday]. The rest of the track is bedding in now and it's getting much better, but that part of the track is untouched and it's like the pit lane where there is no grip at all. We don't know what they can do but they can at least clean it."

Pastor Maldonado said the getaway from the grid will then dictate whether a driver stays tight in turn one or goes for the wider line.

"We need to see how the start comes and then make a decision in the first corner. Everyone is waiting for a big accident there but I think it's quite clear. It's very wide, even if the corner is quite tight there is a lot of space. For sure it will be hard. That corner is very slow and for sure it is better to be on the inside and in the middle of the corner, but if you have all the drivers in the inside slowing down you will gain some positions on the outside. But it's not easy because the lack of grip is so poor."

In a couple of the support races this weekend the inside of the corner has become congested and contact has been made, but Kimi Raikkonen believes there is no reason for an accident if everybody behaves sensibly.

"Every circuit has a difficult first corner and this is not the most difficult one. There are a lot more circuits that have more tricky corners, but it only needs somebody who is a bit too excited or optimistic and the accident will happen. But it can happen anywhere and I don't see this being a problem."

Nico Hulkenberg agreed: "It's the first time we all go through there but if we're sensible there should be no problems. Monza is way tighter off the straight, so it's nothing new to us but it is the first time we do it here. But we don't expect any particular problems."

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