Immense Hamilton secures dominant COTA pole position


Lewis Hamilton - Credit: Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team

Lewis Hamilton secured his ninth pole position of the season as the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team locked out the front row of the grid for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.

Hamilton set the quickest ever lap of the track with a time of 1:34.999, the first driver to ever dip below 1:35 in the five year history of the event, ending 0.216 seconds faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg after an immense final run as the chequered flag fell.

Both drivers will also be able to start the race on the Soft Pirelli compound of tyre after making it through Q2 on the slowly tyre, with only Max Verstappen achieving the same feat. Those who made it through to Q3 on the Supersoft tyre are likely to need to pit a lot sooner than the trio on the Soft’s.

Mercedes were in a class on their own, with Daniel Ricciardo the best of the rest for the Red Bull Racing team in third, but the Australian was 0.510 seconds down on Hamilton’s time. It will be an all-Red Bull second row, with Verstappen a further 0.238 seconds down on his team-mate.

The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers will fill row three, but both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were well over a second down on the outright pace, the Finn coming out on top by 0.227 seconds.

Nico Hülkenberg continued his strong weekend into qualifying and was seventh fastest in the leading Sahara Force India F1 Team entries, and ended just 0.270 seconds behind his countryman Vettel.

Both of the Williams Martini Racing drivers made it through to the top ten shootout, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa, while Carlos Sainz Jr recovered from a disrupted final free practice session where he suffered two punctures to qualify tenth for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Sergio Perez was unable to match team-mate Hülkenberg, and found himself on the wrong side of the cut-off point to make it through to the top ten shootout, missing out by 0.139 seconds due to a late flying lap from Massa.

Fernando Alonso was the best placed of the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team drivers in twelfth but was complaining of a lack of top speed down the long straights at the Circuit of the Americas, with the Spaniard ending 0.203 seconds down on making it through to Q3.

Daniil Kvyat, fresh off the back of signing a new contract with Toro Rosso, could only manage thirteenth ahead of Esteban Gutierrez in the leading of the Haas F1 Team machines, with the team not showing great pace so far this weekend in what is their first event in front of their home fans.

Jolyon Palmer was fifteenth in the leading of the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team entries ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who did a great job to make it through to Q2 for the struggling Sauber F1 Team.

Romain Grosjean was the first of those eliminated in Q1, the Haas driver failing to follow team-mate Gutierrez through, while Kevin Magnussen also was eliminated in the second of the Renaults.

Jenson Button will probably be the most angry to lose out after encountering a number of slow running cars, especially Palmer who was on the racing line heading into the final corner and was heard complaining over the radio that he was not told that his fellow Briton was coming up behind him. The incident will likely to be looked at by the stewards, with one of the Manor Racing MRT drivers also finding himself in the way earlier in the lap.

Button ended up nineteenth on the grid, just ahead of Pascal Wehrlein of Manor, while the second Sauber of Felipe Nasr, who complained about his brakes during the session, will start on the back row alongside the second Manor of Esteban Ocon.

Circuit of the Americas Qualifying Result

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMQ1 TIMEQ2 TIMEQ3 TIMELAPS
144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1:36.2961:36.4501:34.99913
26Nico RosbergGERMercedes1:36.3971:36.3511:35.21513
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer1:36.7591:36.2551:35.50912
433Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull-Tag Heuer1:36.6131:36.8571:35.74712
57Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1:36.9851:36.5841:36.13112
65Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1:37.1511:36.4621:36.35813
727Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1:36.9501:36.6261:36.62812
877Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1:37.4561:37.2021:37.11612
919Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1:37.4021:37.2141:37.26912
1055Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1:37.7441:37.1751:37.32614
1111Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1:37.3451:37.35310
1214Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1:37.9131:37.41711
1326Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso-Renault1:37.8441:37.84412
1421Esteban GutierrezMEXHaas-Ferrari1:38.0531:37.77310
1530Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault1:38.0841:37.9359
169Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1:38.0401:39.35611
178Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas-Ferrari1:38.3088
1820Kevin MagnussenDENRenault1:38.3176
1922Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1:38.3276
2094Pascal WehrleinGERManor-Mercedes1:38.5489
2112Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1:38.5838
2231Esteban OconFRAManor-Mercedes1:38.8068