Hamilton flies to pole position in Austin

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F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Lewis Hamilton continued to dominate the USA Grand Prix weekend by taking pole position for Sunday's race. Title challenger Sebastian Vettel was second fastest and will start alongside the Mercedes driver. Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo are to start from row 2.

Sauber and Toro Rosso kicked off qualifying by sending out their drivers out nearly simultaneously at the start of Q1. Unsurprisingly, none of them managed to set times enough to get through to Q2, resulting in another appearance later in the session, attempting to put in better laps.

When the big guns arrived on track, Ferrari and Mercedes opted to go out on the supersofts, contrary to ultrasofts for all other runners. It was easy enough for them to go through, even though it meant they all needed two hot laps in order to get these slightly harder tyres in their operating temperature window.

Carlos Sainz surprised in Q1 by going 5th fastest at the very end. Felipe Massa continued to perform well by going 6th fastest with just a single hot lap on the ultrasofts. Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg did the same with 8th and 9th best times respectively.

For Lance Stroll, proceedings were less favorable, as he found himself impeding Grosjean early on in the session. The Canadian ran slowly on the racing line ahead of the last corner, but didn't realise Grosjean was coming up behind him. When he did eventually see it, he opted to go right, off of the track, which was ecactly where Grosjean was going as well to avoid a collision. It all passed without damage, and Grosjean eventually made it into Q2 with a 15th time.

Stroll however complained of an engine problem on his second attempt and stranded in 17th.

Q2 saw everybody complete their laps on the ultrasofts, resulting in no big surprises from the three top teams, as all their drivers made up for the top 6 positions at the end of the second part of qualifying. Interestingly though, both Ferraris and both Mercedes went out for attempts at the end of the session, while Red Bull were content with their first laps.

Behind that leading pack though, the battle was intense, with Alonso crossing the finish line first and moving up into 7th. The Spaniard noted "Phew, I could not do much more than that man", and the effort proved enough for a top 10 spot. Perez and Sainz both managed to improve on that while Ocon completed the top 10.

Felipe Massa dropped out after having been around 6th position in the free practice sessions. Kvyat, on his return at Toro Rosso was 12th fastest, ahead of Vandoorne and Grosjean. Nico Hulkenberg didn't complete any laps and therefore ends qualifying 15th fastest. Any running was pointless anyway, as the grid penalties due to taking on a new and upgraded Renault engine meant he would start last anyway.

Q3 saw Ocon head Hamilton out of the pitlane, with Bottas just behind. Alonso, Ricciardo and Verstappen were out out next, ahead of both Ferraris.

Hamilton didn't mess about and recorded 1:33.108, nearly 5 tenths faster than Bottas and slightly more than 0.7s faster than Raikkonen, Vettel and Vertappen. The latter trio was interestingly split by just 0.025s on their first attempts. Raikkonen later reported over the radio it was a "shitty" lap due to a mistake while also being unable to see the correct tyre temperatures while on his outlap.

Verstappen on the other hand said he felt less power out of Turn 15, a message that immediately prompted his race engineer into triggering a bit of an investigation.

Ricciardo took 6th initially, followed by Ocon, Alonso and Perez.

The second outings provided no improvements for the Mercedes drivers, but for Hamilton it was enough to take pole. Vettel on the other hand improved considerably and secured second place, 0.239s away from Hamilton.

Ricciardo improved to take fourth in an identical laptime as Kimi Raikkonen in 5th. Verstappen, with his newer and better Renault engine is 6th and beaten by his team mate by a tenth.

Esteban Ocon retained 7th from his first outing while Carlos Sainz made it into 8th, thanks to a single outing at the end of the session.

The results means once again that both championship rivals will start side by side on the starting grid, while grid penalties for Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Vandoorne could provide for an exciting USA Grand Prix.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:34.8221:33.4371:33.10818
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:35.4201:34.1031:33.34718
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:35.3091:33.7691:33.56817
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:35.9911:34.4951:33.57714
57Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:35.6491:33.8401:33.57717
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:34.8991:34.7161:33.65813
731Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:35.8491:35.1131:34.64717
855Carlos SainzRenault1:35.5171:34.8991:34.85217
914Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:35.7121:35.0461:35.00715
1011Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:36.3581:34.7891:35.14819
1119Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:35.6031:35.155-9
1226Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:36.0731:35.529-15
132Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:36.2861:35.641-14
148Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:36.8351:35.870-14
1527Nico HulkenbergRenault1:35.740--3
169Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:36.842--9
1718Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:36.868--8
1839Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:36.889--7
1994Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:37.179--9
2020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:37.394--7