Rosberg takes USGP pole in shortened qualifying
Nico Rosberg will start from pole at the United States Grand Prix at COTA, emerging out on top in a shortened qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, ahead of the Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
Qualifying for the US GP got started at 9am local time, with conditions still far from ideal. The stewards as a result mandated full wets to be used as the standing water on the track was deemed to be too dangerous for any attempts on intermediates.
Both Lotus drivers immediately got on with it, knowing that conditions would be best in the first 10 minutes. They were soon joined by many others, with Hamilton setting the pace early on, completing a lap around COTA in 1:59.393, nearly a full second quicker than Daniel Ricciardo. Daniil Kvyat was third fastest but more than 2 seconds slower.
8 minutes into the session, Carlos Sainz was slightly optimistic into Turn 3, ending up into the barriers and breaking off his front left wheel. The session was subsequently red flagged for 10 minutes until his car was cleared.
Contrary to the team's expectations, conditions appears to improve further after the session got restarted. Rosberg managed to improve Hamilton's earlier lap by 5 tenths while Ericsson was seen going sideways and Vettel losing control of his Ferrari, brushing the armco barriers before returning back to the pits.
2 minutes from the end, Hamilton returned back to the front, 30 second after Ricciardo also improved Rosberg's time.
As the first part came to an end, Sebastian Vettel was lucky to escape elimination, sitting in the pitlane and watching how others improved. He ended 15th and moved through, with Ericsson in 16th position eliminated. Nasr was 17th fastest, ahead of Rossi, Stevens and Sainz.
Vettel was out first to start Q2, heading a queue of around 6 cars to kick off the second part of qualifying. In between yellow flags caused by several drivers going sideways on the exit of nearly every corner on the track, Rosberg proved fastest at the halfway point, narrowly ahead of Hamilton. The Mercedes duo however were 1.5s quicker than Ricciardo and Vettel who were the closest challengers at that point.
The gaps at the front reduced a bit, with Ricciardo coming to within 1.1s off of the leading Mercedes. Kvyat moved up into 4th, ahead of Vettel, Perez, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Massa and Verstappen. Fernando alonso missed out on a spot in Q3 by less than a tenth but was faster than Bottas, Grosjean, Button and Maldonado who were all eliminated.
As Q3 was delayed 10 minutes, both Mercedes drove out of the boxes, only to stop 5s later and be pulled back into the garages. It seems that the team was a bit too quick to release its cars. Meanwhile on track, a car with air blower attempted to blow some standing water off the track, particularly on the back straight.
2 minutes before the effective start of Q3, the sesson got cancelled, retaining the Q2 order as the definitive qualifying result for the race in a few hours.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:56.495||1:57.969||-||6|
|4||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:57.640||1:58.434||-||6|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:59.284||1:59.210||-||6|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:58.325||1:59.333||-||6|
|10||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:58.689||2:00.199||-||7|
|Nc||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||2:07.304||-||-||3|