Austin - Defending champion Lewis Hamilton powered to pole position for the
United States Grand Prix when he out-paced Mercedes team-mate and
championship leader Nico Rosberg with a blistering lap in Saturday's
tense qualifying session.
The 31-year-old Briton dominated the
action with a record best lap in one minute and 34.999 seconds - to
become the first driver to break the 1:35 barrier - to outstrip the
German by 0.216 seconds as the Silver Arrows pairing reeled off their
10th front row lockout of the year.
It is the 58th pole position
of Hamilton's career, but his first at the Circuit of the Americas
where, despite winning three of the four previous races, he had failed
to dominate qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified third for Red
Bull ahead of his team-mate teenager Max Verstappen with the Ferraris of
Kimi Raikkonen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel taking fifth and
Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Force India
ahead of Valtteri Bottas and his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa and
Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso.
Hamilton is seeking his 50th win to
stay in contention in the title race in which he trails Rosberg by 33
points with four races remaining.
Even if he wins all four, Hamilton could be pipped to the title by Rosberg if he finishes second behind him.
must really say thank-you to the crowd because I could hear them on my
slow-down lap and that really gives me energy," said Hamilton.
"This is my first pole position here and it is amazing. It has been many years of trying.
lot of great people have tried to get me there. It is a good feeling
for me and gives me a good chance for Sunday and I hope we can give them
all a great race."
Rosberg said he had done all he could to take
pole again - he and fellow-German Vettel were the only drivers before
Hamilton to have won pole in Texas - but could not match Hamilton's
"Lewis did a great job and I was not quite able to do it,"
he said. "That's the way it goes sometimes. But as we have seen very
often, anything can happen."
On a bright, clear and blue-skied day
in Texas, with a track temperature of 34 degrees Celsius, the two
Mercedes men traded laps from the start to wind up clear of the pack in
Their efforts kept a big crowd enthralled and engaged some
interest from a busy paddock where many celebrity guests, including
Hollywood actors Gerard Butler and Christophe Waltz and tennis player
Venus Williams, were spotted.
To the dismay of their fans, the
first mini-session ended with the elimination of Romain Grosjean in his
American Haas car, Kevin Magnussen of Renault, Jenson Button of
McLaren-Honda, Pascal Wehrlein and his Manor team-mate Esteban Ocon
along with Felipe Nasr of Sauber.
Luckless 2009 world champion
Button complained afterwards that he was blocked by compatriot Jolyon
Palmer, of Renault, at the final corner.
Out of Q2 went Sergio
Perez of Force India, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren,
Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Esteban Gutierrez in the second Haas car,
Palmer and Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.
The starting grid for Sunday's United States Grand Prix following qualifying on Saturday:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Mercedes)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams-Mercedes)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Honda)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Haas-Ferrari)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault)
Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Renault)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Honda)
Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Manor-Mercedes)
Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber-Ferrari)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Manor-Mercedes)