Austin - Valtteri
Bottas kept alive his hopes of delaying Lewis Hamilton's sixth drivers'
world championship celebrations by claiming pole position with a record
lap on Saturday in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
The Finn, who has to win Sunday's race and hope his Mercedes
team-mate finishes outside the top eight to keep the championship alive,
clocked a best lap in one minute and 32.029 seconds to outpace
second-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 0.012 seconds.
Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari and Hamilton, who was fifth.
It was the champion-elect's equal worst qualifying of his career on
American soil, but he was only three-tenths adrift of his team-mate.
Hamilton is now without a pole since the German Grand Prix in July.
For Bottas, it was a first pole in the United States, his fifth this
season and the 11th of his career, his best lap on his first run in Q3
remaining fast enough to put him on the prime starting spot.
Alex Albon was sixth in the second Red Bull ahead of the two McLarens
of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris with Daniel Ricciardo ninth for
Renault and Pierre Gasly 10th for Toro Rosso.
"I'm really happy about that and it was a nice lap - and to get
those kind of laps on a track like this is a good feeling," said Bottas.
"On my last lap, I was losing grip overall so I am glad nobody
improved in the end on the second runs. It was tricky for me yesterday
(Friday) so I was do the work today and find what I needed in Q3."
In significantly warmer conditions, prompting many to discard jackets
and coats, Leclerc was keen to make an early entry impression in Q1
after missing the morning session following an engine failure.
He posted an early marker lap before Norris took top spot briefly
ahead of a reinvigorated Hamilton, who went fastest in 1:33.454.
Verstappen, still itching with frustration after being stripped of
pole in Mexico a week earlier, was second-quickest for Red Bull, ahead
of Bottas, in the second Mercedes.
The Finn, unflappable as ever, could only keep his title bid alive by
winning and hoping for a rare flop, outside the top eight, from his
"We think the track has
improved, so we'll take another lap," said Bottas' engineer as he and
Hamilton stayed out to gain more understanding of the track in the
Unexpectedly, as they did so, Norris topped the Q1 times while out
went Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen and the two
Williams men, George Russell and Robert Kubica, split by Racing Point's
The Mexican will start from the pit-lane on Sunday after being penalised for a weighbridge transgression on Friday.
The Mercedes men, both on medium compound tyres, were first out for Q2 with the Ferraris following on the same rubber.
Hamilton set the pace ahead of Bottas until Red Bull’s Verstappen, on
mediums, and Albon, on softs, went third and first, sandwiching
Albon's lap in 1:32.898 put him within reach of Hamilton's 2018
qualifying lap record and the top six were separated by only
three-tenths of a second before their second flying runs.
Leclerc went top ahead of Ferrari team-mate Vettel to lead the way
into the top 10 shootout while out went Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso,
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Lance Stroll of
Racing Point and Romain Grosjean in the second Haas.
Along with Verstappen, both Magnussen and Sainz were also qualifying to start their 100th Grand Prix race.
In Q3, Bottas smashed Hamilton's qualifying record in 1:32.029 on his
first run to lead Vettel, Verstappen and Leclerc with the Briton back
in fifth, three-tenths adrift.
Starting grid for Sunday's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas:
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Alexander Albon (THA/Red Bull-Honda)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/McLaren-Renault)
Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Renault)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Renault)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso-Honda)
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Renault)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso-Honda)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Racing Point-Mercedes)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari)
Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari)
Kimi Räikkönen (FIN/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari)
George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes)
Robert Kubica (POL/Williams-Mercedes)
Sergio Pérez (MEX/Racing Point-Mercedes)