Lewis Hamilton will start from Pole Position in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, and he will be joined on the front row by title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Driver completed a flying lap of 1:33.108s around the Circuit of The Americas to achieve a seventy-second Pole Position of his career, as he aims to clinch his fourth world championship title this weekend.
Vettel, who is bidding to keep his championship hopes alive, manage to complete a lap enough to split the Mercedes in his Scuderia Ferrari, with Valtteri Bottas starting from third in tomorrow’s race with a lap over half a second slower to team-mate Hamilton’s time.
Red Bull Racing‘s Daniel Ricciardo manage to qualify in fourth with Kimi Raikkonen in fifth. Both driver set identical lap times with a 1:33.577s but the Australian set his time first so he’ll start ahead of the Ferrari.
Max Verstappen qualified in sixth place but due to his fifteen place grid penalty for additional power unit elements, will start the race from the back of the grid, although he managed to get through into the top ten shoot-out on the Supersoft Pirelli tyre compound.
Esteban Ocon was best of the rest in seventh for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr., who excelled in his first qualifying session with Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, making it through to Qualifying three on his first race weekend since switching from Scuderia Toro Rosso.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team‘s Fernando Alonso managed to set the ninth fastest time of the session, while the second Force India of Sergio Perez concluded the top ten.
Prior to qualifying, multiple drivers were handed grid penalties to take ahead of tomorrow’s race. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne with five places, Verstappen with fifteen, Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg with twenty and Toro Rosso’s debutant Brendon Hartley with a total of twenty-five.
Qualifying one kicked off with Toro Rosso’s returning Daniil Kvyat hitting the track first to commence the beginning of the eighteen minute session, with the Russian looking to get some track time following a technical issue that curtailed his Saturday morning practice session early. He set the initial first time of the session with the Pirelli Ultrasoft tyres, setting a 1:37.865s as the first bench mark.
The big three teams came out on track with Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas setting their starting laps on the Supersoft tyres. Bottas produced a quick starting lap to top the table half way through the session.
Romain Grosjean had to take avoiding action before Turn twenty after Williams Martini Racing‘s Lance Stroll slowed down on the racing line, forcing the Haas F1 Team driver to go onto the grass to avoid contact.
Force India’s Perez also reported over the radio about being impeded, with Kevin Magnussen getting in the Mexican’s way and ruining his lap after not allowing him through at Turn 13. Both Stroll and Magnussen are under investigation from the stewards for their respective blocks.
In his first ever qualifying session, Hartley looked to aim to get into Qualifying two after setting an impressive lap. However, the Kiwi driver was denied this opportunity, finding himself beaten by both Vandoorne and Sauber F1 Team‘s Marcus Ericsson.
The first victims of qualifying were Ericsson, Stroll, Hartley, Pascal Wehrlein and Magnussen. Despite his efforts in his first ever running behind an F1 car, Hartley is expected to start his first ever race tomorrow in last place due to grid penalties.
The second qualifying session began with Hamilton heading out on track with the Ultrasoft tyres and setting a starting lap with a 1:33.560s. Team-mate Bottas followed swiftly with a 1:33.7, around two tenths away from the Brit.
With a twenty place grid penalty pending ahead of the race tomorrow, Hülkenberg decided to sit out the session and didn’t set a lap time, meaning he is likely to share the back row of the grid with Hartley on Sunday.
Williams’ Felipe Massa reported engine troubles during the last sector of his lap. The Brazilian tried his efforts to escape the knockout zone but was pushed down following impressive laps from Sainz Jr., Alonso and Perez in the dying moments of qualifying.
The drivers to miss out for the shoot-out for the top ten were Massa, Kvyat, Vandoorne, Grosjean and Hülkenberg.
The quest for Pole position began with both Mercedes heading out on track alongside Force India’s Ocon. Hamilton kicked off the lap times with a 1:33.108s, a new track record at the Circuit of The Americas, with team-mate Bottas following behind, four tenths slower.
Vettel tried his efforts to challenge the Mercedes but could only manage third fastest before Raikkonen set a quicker time than his German team-mate.
With a few minutes remain, the final lap to improve the positions began with Sainz Jr., first out and aimed to challenge his career best of fifth place. His only lap out on track pushed him up to eighth place ahead of his fellow countryman Alonso and Perez.
Vettel gave one last effort to reach the front row and achieved it by completing a 1:33.347s and halted a Mercedes front-row but couldn’t match Hamilton’s time. The British driver failed to improve on his time but he did enough to capture the front row and will start the race in pole position, while Bottas also failed to better his time, finishing only 0.009 seconds ahead of the time set by both Ricciardo and Raikkonen.
Hamilton can take the championship tomorrow if he wins the race and his rival Vettel finishes down in sixth or lower, and with rain a possibility for race day, a surprise could be in store to shake up the championship battle between the two drivers.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:33.108|
|2||5||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||1:33.347|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:33.568|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:33.577|
|5||7||Kimi Raikkonnen||Scuderia Ferrari||1:33.577|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:33.658|
|7||31||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:34.647|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:34.852|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team||1:35.007|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:35.148|
|11||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||Q2 1:35.155|
|12||26||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:35.529|
|13||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team||1:35.641|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas-F1 Team||1:35.870|
|15||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport Formula One Team||No Time|
|16||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team||Q1 1:36.842|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||1:36.868|
|18||39||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:36.889|
|19||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team||1:37.179|
|20||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas-F1 Team||1:37.394|