Lewis Hamilton will start the United States Grand Prix on pole position having beaten team mate Nico Rosberg by two-tenths of a second, setting the fastest lap ever recorded around the Circuit of the Americas.
The pair traded fastest laps throughout the three qualifying sessions, with Hamilton taking first blood in Q1, while Rosberg hit back in Q2 when both drivers were on the soft tyre, although it was Hamilton who was too quick for the German, improving on his initial best lap by over three-tenths to secure his 58th pole position and his first in Austin.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo out-qualified team mate Max Verstappen for third position. Ricciardo, who had topped the final practice session ahead of qualifying, could only manage to register a best time which was half a second slower than Hamilton’s benchmark, while Verstappen was a further two-tenths behind.
The two Ferraris were next in the order with Kimi Raikkonen beating Sebastian Vettel to fifth place, although both cars were over a second slower than the Silver Arrows.
Force India continued their supremacy over Williams from the past few races as Nico Hulkenberg qualified in seventh position, almost half a second quicker than the Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso having had a troubled final practice session which saw the Spaniard only complete six laps.
Q2 saw tyre strategies come into play for the two front running teams, as both Mercedes drivers opted to run the soft compound tyre in order to start on the more durable rubber for the start of tomorrow’s race.
Verstappen also chose to run on the softs in Q2 after initially going out on the super softs. The teenager was also able to progress into the final stage of qualifying meaning he too will start on the soft compound, while Ricciardo chose to start on the super softs.
While it was a strategic game at the front of the field in preparation for the race, there was a close fight for the final spots of the top 10 shootout between constructors’ rivals Williams and Force India.
A late lap from Felipe Massa – his only one in Q2 – knocked out Sergio Perez from qualifying by a tenth of a second, while Fernando Alonso also failed to make the Q3 cut qualifying in 12th position ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez could only manage 14th after a troublesome weekend for the team’s first home race, he’ll line up ahead of Palmer and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Romain Grosjean narrowly missed out on a Q2 appearance despite improving on his lap time. The Frenchman only managed a best time which was two seconds off the pace and will line up behind Marcus Ericsson on the grid in 17th.
McLaren’s Jenson Button failed to progress out of Q1 after spending most of the free practice sessions inside the top 10. The Briton was on a flying lap when he approached traffic on the final corner as Jolyon Palmer was preparing for his final run.
Palmer was unaware that Button was approaching and was still on the racing line, forcing Button to move onto the inside which compromised his lap time, meaning he will start tomorrow’s race in 19th position behind Renault’s Kevin Magnussen.
At the tail end of the grid, Pascal Wehrlein placed his Manor ahead of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber in 20th position and out-qualified team-mate Esteban Ocon in the process, who will start the race 22nd.
Image via XPB Images