Austin - Nico Rosberg broke free of Lewis Hamilton's stranglehold to seize his
ninth pole position of the season on Saturday when he topped a tense
qualifying session for Sunday's United States Grand Prix.
29-year-old German clocked a best lap of one minute and 36.067 seconds
in the final moments to outpace his nearest rival, Mercedes team-mate
and championship leader Hamilton by almost four-tenths of a second.
qualifying, Hamilton had reeled off fastest laps in all three practice
sessions and demonstrated the speed and form that suggested he was in
line for his fifth straight win and 10th this year in Sunday's 56-lap
But Rosberg, who is 17 points behind Hamilton with three
races remaining, responded with a cool showing under pressure as he
delivered laps that were faster than last year's pole time set by
four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who won last year's race for Red
"Great job guys," said Rosberg. "Thank you very much."
It was his 13th career pole and meant he had out-qualified Hamilton 10-7 over the season so far.
"A great day, very happy," he added.
worked out really well. Together with my engineers, I arrived in
qualifying with a car that I was really happy with for qualifying.
morning, the conditions were quite different so it wasn't easy to get
everything right. First place today is awesome, but the race is what
counts, so I need to fully focus on tomorrow."
Hamilton revealed that he has endured braking problems throughout the weekend.
did a great job," he said. "I was struggling with braking. The left
brake was always about 100 degrees less than the right and kept
catching, no matter what I did.
"Even if I braked earlier, it was
still locking. Perhaps that's where I lost a lot of the time. Even if
that was the case, Nico was quicker today. Potentially, it's a problem
for the race so we need to see if they can scrub them down."
Bottas was third for Williams, the fifth time he has taken that
position in the last seven race weekends, ahead of his team-mate
Brazilian Felipe Massa.
"It was a pretty good qualifying again for
me," said the Finn. "I'm pleased with two good laps in Q3 and happy to
have locked out the second row for the team."
Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull ahead of two-time champion Fernando
Alonso of Ferrari, the 2009 champion Jenson Button and his McLaren
team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Kimi Raikkonen was ninth in the second Ferrari and Adrian Sutil 10th for Sauber.
made only a token appearance in Q1 and qualified 17th for Red Bull,
knowing he will start Sunday's race from the pit lane after a change of
On another afternoon of blue skies and sunshine, with
the track temperature rising beyond 32 degrees Celsius, the opening Q1
mini-session was memorable for the departure of Vettel.
It was the
first time in 94 races that the four-time champion had failed to
progress to Q2 having chosen to make little more than a token appearance
in qualifying after changing his power unit and therefore being forced
to start Sunday's race from the pit lane.
Out with the German went
Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who was 15th for Toro Rosso, Mexican
Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber who was 16th and Frenchman Romain Grosjean,
18th and last for Lotus.
That session saw Hamilton clock the best
time ahead of Massa and Bottas, but the Briton required an extra set of
tyres to do the job.
"It's a disaster," said Grosjean. "The car never had anything to give me."
Q2, Rosberg broke Hamilton's grip at last, going fastest early on in
the mini-session and then, taking an extra set of tyres, delivering a
sensational lap in 1:36.290.
It ended a run of 10 sessions dominated by Hamilton and left the Englishman second by nine-tenths.
four men to miss the cut to the top ten shootout were Venezuelan Pastor
Maldonado of Lotus in 11th place ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez and his
Force India team-mate German Nico Hulkenberg and Russian Daniil Kvyat of
Toro Rosso.The starting grid for Sunday's United States Grand Prix following final qualifying on Saturday:
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/McLaren)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Sauber)
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Lotus)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India)
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Force India)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus)