Lewis edges out Nico by two tenths; Third-placed Ricciardo to start on supersoft tyres; Neither McLaren reaches the top ten
Lewis Hamilton has reignited his world championship bid by beating Nico Rosberg to pole position for the United States GP.
Hamilton was two tenths faster than Rosberg, who leads the title race by 33 points, to claim his first ever pole position at the Circuit of Americas.
Hamilton’s lap of 1:34.999 was also the fastest ever recorded at Austin.
“I could hear the crowd cheering when I crossed the line, the energy on that slow-down lap from everyone was much, much appreciated,” said Hamilton.
“I’m going to give it everything I’ve got tomorrow – now I just have to put thoughts to action. Tomorrow l need to have a real big one.”
Behind the two Mercedes cars, Red Bull locked out the second row, with Max Verstappen relegated to fourth by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
After Red Bull elected to split strategies for their drivers, Ricciardo will start the race on the faster but more brittle supersoft tyres.
“I’m sure that tyre won’t last as long, but it might give me a bit of an advantage at the start,” said the Aussie.
Unique amongst the field, Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen all reached the top ten shoot-out on the slower but durable soft compound.
Ferrari offered meagre opposition as the Scuderia huffed and puffed. While there was a story to be told in the sight of Kimi Raikkonen once again out-pacing Sebastian Vettel, a shadow of his former title-winning self, the overarching narrative was their crushing lack of pace. Six tenths behind Red Bull, Raikkonen’s lap for fifth on the grid was 1.132 seconds shy of Hamilton’s flyer for pole.
FIA issues crackdown to block ‘Verstappen-style’ blocking
Off the track, meanwhile, Verstappen has had his wings clipped by the sport’s governing body after the FIA issued a crackdown against drivers moving in the braking zone – an accusation which has dogged the teenager throughout the year and reputedly sparked a heated drivers’ briefing on Friday night.
“Many people complaining, that’s the story,” reported an indignant Verstappen. “I think it’s just a new way of racing. I think everybody needs to get used to it, but now they’ve put a rule on it, and we get on with it.”
‘Ron Dennis to leave McLaren at end of the season’
Elsewhere, McLaren disappointed with Fernando Alonso unable to reach the top ten and Jenson Button suffering the indignity of taking an early bath at the end of Q1. The former world champion was angered by a dithering Jolyon Palmer in the final corner, but McLaren were made to rue their decision to limit Button to just a single flying lap on supersofts.
Palmer, equally irate with his Renault crew for not alerting him to the oncoming traffic, did at least impress by out-qualifying Kevin Magnussen as the pair continue to slug it out for the remaining seat at the team in 2017.
United States GP Qualifying
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:34.999
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 0.216
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 0.510
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, + 0.748
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 1.132
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 1.359
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 1.629
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, + 2.117
9. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 2.270
10. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, + 2.327
Qut in Q2
- Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:37.353
- Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:37.417
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:37.480
- Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:37.773
- Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:37.935
- Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:39.356
Out in Q1
- Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:38.308
- Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:38.317
- Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:38.327
- Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:38.548
- Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:38.583
- Esteban Ocon, Manor, 1:38.806