Red Bull's Max Verstappen has secured pole position for Sunday's USA Grand Prix at Austin, Texas. The Dutchman edged Lewis Hamilton by two tenths while his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez may start from behind him in third.
Qualifying was kicked off with cars out on track as soon as the session started. Lance Stroll wondered why he was sent out this early, but traffic on later attempts showed his race engineer had a point when he said "we think everybody is going to come out, so let's be ahead".
When the big guns set their times, Red Bull emerged ahead. Verstappen was fastest, ahead of Perez, Hamilton and Bottas. With so much traffic on track however, it was unclear how much each driver got influenced by slow cars, but it was surely a different picture to FP1 where both Mercedes were easily ahead of the pack.
Verstappen and Perez later improved their times again, but it was eventually Leclerc who ended the first session on top, 2 tenths quicker than Verstappen. Both McLarens settled in 4th and 5th, followed by Sainz and Gasly. The Mercedes didn't improve later in the session when they eventually also came out for a second lap.
In the closing stages, both Alpines made it through, followed by Giovinazzi. This dropped out Stroll, as well as Latifi, Raikkonen (who had one of his times deleted for track limits at Turn 18), and both Haas cars.
In Q2, George Russell was the first man out on track, followed by both Mercedes and the Red Bulls. Mercedes and Red Bull, along with several others after them went for the medium compound tyres.
The first outing saw Verstappen top the times again, this time 0.333s faster than Hamilton. Norris, Leclerc, Bottas and Sainz followed on the timing sheet as Perez and Riccardo saw their times deleted for exceeding track limits.
Perez rectified the situation 2 minutes from the end by going 7th fastest, again on medium. Ricciardo made it even closer and was 9th best when the clock stopped. Ocon initially moved up into 10th thanks to a big tow from Alonso on the back straight, but it didn't pay off as Tsunoda still beat Ocon to 10th. For Alonso, that didn't matter much anyway given a grid penalty for an engine change would see him start near the back of the grid anyway.
As the wind picked up, Q3 started with Hamilton out on track first, ahead of Bottas, Norris, Gasly and Ricciardo. Funnily, the times of the top teams ended up faster every time one crossed the line, meaning Hamilton was fourth fastest only and Perez, the last one to show up ended up quickest, 0.019s ahead of Verstappen and nearly 3 tenths ahead of Bottas.
Sainz and Leclerc were 5th and 6th, the McLarens behind them and Gasly with Tsunoda completing the top 10 after they had all set a first flyer.
Bottas was first to start the second flying lap and it was Hamilton who jumped all to go fastest, only to be topped again by Verstappen. Perez though didn't manage to improve, dropping him down to third.
As Hamilton apologised to his team, Verstappen was quick to thank his team for improving the car compared to how it was in Friday's sessions.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.352||1:33.464||1:32.910||16|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.369||1:34.178||1:33.134||19|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:34.407||1:34.643||1:33.808||15|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:34.551||1:33.880||1:33.887||14|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:34.567||1:34.583||1:34.118||17|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:35.360||1:35.137||1:34.918||18|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:35.747||1:35.377||12|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:35.281||1:35.500||9|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:35.920||1:35.794||8|
|14||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:35.756||1:44.549||12|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:35.746||DNF||11|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:35.983||7|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:35.995||6|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:36.311||7|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:36.499||9|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:36.796||8|
Vettel, Russell and Alonso start from the back of the grid after taking on new PU components.