So far this year the lack of TV coverage at races hasn't helped or hindered tipping, but the US Grand Prix may be different, because it's a brand new circuit. As part of my scholarly research I've raced the circuit somewhat on F1 2012 (PS3 version), and my instinct is that it's a Spa/Silverstone/Suzuka sort of circuit. I suspect there will be a good number of overtaking opportunities for cars out of sequence (perhaps Alonso and the Saubers most obviously).
In unrelated news it now seems probably that HRT will not return in 2013, which is perhaps unsurprising and not particularly distressing. The team's almost always the slowest and has poor reliability. Hopefully a new 12th team with better planning and funding can enter the sport later on:
More news on 2013, namely that DRS will not be used freely in practice and qualifying but will only be available in the same zone(s) as the race:
This should mean that qualifying and race pace become closer, but will also make the races a little less exciting because of that.
The tyre compounds this weekend are medium and hard, but Pirelli still reckon the track will be so abrasive that a two-stop strategy will be optimal:
Button has an interesting thought, namely that starting second could be an advantage into the first corner:
Might see what the first lap leader odds are for the race.
First practice was interesting to listen to. The circuit seems very dirty, but it's a deep-ingrained sort of dust so it will probably remain, more or less, for the whole weekend. Grip was correspondingly low and many cars had issues, especially at turn 19. The three big guns (Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso) seemed fairly evenly balanced at the sharp end, although gaps did widen at the end of the session.
P1 top 10 were as follows: Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Webber, Massa, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Perez. Vettel was almost a second and a half ahead of Hamilton, who was nearly a second ahead of Alonso.
Couldn't pay attention to P2 because it wasn't anywhere to be found. Maybe coverage was online, but the TV/radio offered no coverage.
P2 had Vettel fastest by the lion's share of a second, but Webber and Alonso posted almost identical times. Hamilton and Button were a quarter of a second down the road and had very similar times also. Massa, Rosberg, Senna, Kobayashi and Schumacher round out the top 10.
At this stage it looks like Vettel's nailed on for pole, rather boringly, but that Alonso may do better than usual in qualifying. If he could start second that would be very intriguing for the race ahead. However, as usual, P3 will probably weigh most heavily when it comes to forecasting qualifying.
After P2 Webber opined that the even-numbered side of the grid would be a joke, due to extremely low grip levels:
P3 was also very cold, and whilst it'll be warmer in qualifying it will probably be later laps that are fastest. This may mean cars remain on circuit going round and round to put heat into the tyres, which could create traffic issues. The fastest was Vettel by a distance, followed by Hamilton, Maldonado, Alonso, Rosberg, Massa, Webber, Perez, Hulkenberg, Button.
For the first time in a long time one of my pencilled-in possible bets had nice(ish) odds. I've laid Raikkonen to reach Q3 at 1.35. He's been 13th in P3, 11th in P2 and 14th in P1. I'd say he should be odds on not to make it, or perhaps evens.
Qualifying starts at 6pm.