Valtteri Bottas clinched a welcome pole position for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport at the 2019 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
This was the first pole position for the Silver Arrows since the German Grand Prix in July 2019. Bottas clinched his fifth pole position of the season and the 200th front row start for the Mercedes team.
Bottas has to win the race to keep his title fight with team-mate Lewis Hamilton alive with two more races left in the season. Hamilton had to be content with fifth position on a track at which he has taken the last three pole positions and won five out of seven races.
This was the Bottas’s first pole position at the United States Grand Prix and he said: “This is very satisfying – it’s been a while since we’ve last been on pole, so this is a great feeling. I was struggling with the car yesterday, but we’ve made a number of changes overnight and today the car felt much better.”
The Finn continued: “I knew going into qualifying that the car had the potential to fight at the front, I just had to get a good lap together. I’m very pleased with my first lap in Q3; it wasn’t quite perfect, but good enough to put us on pole.
“It’s always an advantage to start from the front; now it’s up to me to try and maintain the lead at the start tomorrow. Our long runs looked good yesterday, so hopefully we can get a strong result in the race.”
Hamilton has taken the last three pole positions at this race, but could manage only fifth position on this day. No driver has won the seven races at this track since 2012 from beyond the front row.
Hamilton who is on the verge of his sixth drivers’ championship said: “This must be one of the worst qualifying sessions I’ve had in a long time. Clearly the car had the capability to be on the front row, I just couldn’t put the lap together.
“Valtteri did a great job, so congratulations to him. Now I’ll have to try and figure out what went wrong today and how I can get myself to the front. It’s going to be a tough challenge trying to get past two Ferraris, a Red Bull and Valtteri, but I’ll continue to work at it and hope that I can do a better job tomorrow.”
Team Principal Toto Wolff said: “That was an exciting qualifying session – it was very tight, with a few cars within just a few tenths. It’s been a little while since we’ve been on pole and it’s a very good feeling to start from the front again, we’ve all missed it.”
Wolff continued: “Valtteri had a strong qualifying and put in a brilliant first lap in Q3 which was good enough to secure pole. Lewis had a trickier time, it just wasn’t his qualifying session today, so we’ll take a look at what happened.
looks set to be an interesting race, it appears to be quite close between the
top teams in terms of race pace. It’s still all to play for from P1 and P5 on
the grid, so we’ll give it our all and see how it plays out.”
Since the German Grand Prix, the Mercedes team has ceded pole position to the Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen. Technical Director James Allison was satisfied with being back on pole and said: “This is our first pole since before the summer break and what a welcome pole it was – incredibly tight, incredibly exciting and fantastic to have Valtteri put our car on the top step today.
“It wasn’t such a happy session for Lewis and a bit of a surprise because he was very strong on the first two sessions. But I think he would be the first to say that was a bit of a messy couple of laps in Q3. He’ll live to fight another day tomorrow, we had good pace in the car in the long runs on Friday and we hope that we can make that count tomorrow in the race.”
Mercedes has won the last three races in a row and will hope a win for one of the drivers and the sixth drivers’ title will materialize on Sunday.