Bottas narrowly beats Vettel to USA pole position at COTA

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F1 Grand Prix, GP United States, Circuit of The Americasus

It's Valtteri Bottas on pole position for the United States GP tomorrow at COTA, as the Finn was fastest in today's qualifying session. Vettel and Verstappen had to settle for second and third, despite being within a tenth of Bottas's stunning lap.

Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix saw an easy start to the session as both Williams were left out alone for quite a while before more cars joined the action. Among the Williams though, Russell quickly emerged fastest of the two, and would end up 18th, leaving Perez behind him as the Mexican wasn't too bothered, knowing he'd start from the pitlane anyway due to a penalty from Friday.

All drivers went out on soft tyres, but even on those, the top cars required several laps to get them in their best condition. Only Verstappen and Sainz only completed 3 laps in Q1. Vettel did 4 on a single set of tyres, Bottas five, and Hamilton even six.

It was the latter who emerged fastest with a few minutes left on the clock, topping Verstappen, Gasly, Bottas and Vettel. In the closing stages, it was Norris who surprisingly went fastest, confirming the pace McLaren had shown in final practice.

The medium tyres were brought out next, as both Mercedes and Ferraris were sent out at the very beginning of the second part of qualifying. Half a minute later, Verstappen did the same while his Red Bull Racing teammate Albon was put on the soft tyres.

This time around, all drivers opted to do just a single flying lap, making for a very empty track 4 minutes later, as everybody had gone out early on.

At this time, the six cars from the three top teams already seemed certain of moving through, with Albon fastest thanks to using softs. He topped Hamilton by 0.147s on mediums, closely followed by Verstappen, Bottas, Leclerc and Vettel.

While unneeded, nearly everybody went out again for another run close to the end of Q2, with both Ferraris recording better times on medium tyres, making is 1st and 2nd fastest for them in Q2.

Albon didn't go out while Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas all went out on softs but lifted the throttle in the final sector to avoid improving their previous best. For Hamilton and Verstappen, there was a bit of a hot moment at Turn 19, when they jointly ended up behind Kvyat. The Russian turned in, surprising Hamilton, who then on his behalf surprised Verstappen by taking a narrow entry into the corner. The Dutchman was wise to avoid contact by cutting the corner over the kerbs, but his unhappiness was clear over the radio, and by him moving ahead of Hamilton immediately after that incident.

Behind the top 6, both McLarens secured their places in Q3, along with Ricciardo and Gasly. Nico Hulkenberg narrowly missed out, and is set to start from 11th on tomorrow's starting grid.

Q3 was a tense affair, with the first laps proving those that count, as nobody actually managed to improve later on in the second attempts. This meant that Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position for Mercedes, topping Sebastian Vettel by just 0.012s.

Max Verstappen was very close as well, with even third fastest Leclerc only a tiny bit more than a tenth behind Bottas's best time. Lewis Hamilton had a disappointing qualifying session to finish 5th, 3 tenths down on his team mate, and even aborting his second flyer to rapdily return to the pits.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:33.7501:33.1601:32.02917
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:33.7661:32.7821:32.04116
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:33.5491:33.1201:32.09615
416Charles LeclercFerrari1:33.9881:32.7601:32.13719
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:33.4541:33.0451:32.32117
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:33.9841:32.8981:32.54814
755Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:33.9161:33.4221:32.84715
84Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:33.3531:33.3161:33.17518
93Daniel RicciardoRenault1:33.8351:33.6081:33.48815
1010Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:33.5561:33.7151:33.60119
1127Nico HulkenbergRenault1:34.0921:33.815-12
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:33.8121:33.979-12
1326Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:34.1381:33.989-14
1418Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:33.9211:34.100-14
158Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:34.1611:34.158-14
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:34.226--8
177Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:34.369--8
1863George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:35.372--9
1911Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:35.808--5
2088Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes1:35.889--9

Note - Perez required to start the race from the pit lane for ignoring a weighbridge call during practice.