Max Verstappen secures USGP pole ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Sergio Perez completes the top three.
The Story From Austin, Texas
Red Bull turned it on when it mattered in USGP qualifying. Title contender Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position by 0.209 seconds.
The top three of Verstappen, Hamilton and Perez all have a free tyre choice to start the race after their Q2 exploits. Strategy will be key in the race on Sunday for both Red Bull and Mercedes. Hamilton is going to have to fight with both Red Bull cars solo, as Valtteri Bottas starts ninth on the grid after another engine penalty.
Mercedes will be left scratching their heads after their pace in P1. Both Hamilton and Bottas were 0.9 seconds clear of Verstappen, which we saw clawed back as the weekend went on, culminating in the Dutchman claiming his ninth pole position of 2021.
It will be the seventh time this season the front row is locked out by Verstappen and Hamilton. On five occasions Verstappen has gone on to win. The other two? They crashed!
Lance Stroll Out
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had a disappointing Q1 on Saturday in Texas. The Canadian could only muster a lap time worthy of P16. Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Raikkonen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin also failed to make it out of Q1.
Charles Leclerc topped the timesheets in the session for Ferrari. Both McLarens were P4 and P5 so promising early signs for the Scuderia in their battle with McLaren for 3rd place in the Constructor’s Championship.
Max Verstappen Sends a Message in Q2
In emphatic fashion, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the time chart in Q2. He went a full 0.333 seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton who came second.
Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, Leclerc and Bottas all completed the session on medium tyres. This will have been vital for the top teams heading into the race as they now have a free tyre choice.
George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Antonio Giovinazzi, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon all failed to make it out of Q2. The silver lining for Vettel is that he finished ahead of Russell and Alonso, so stays ahead of them both when they drop to the back of the grid given their engine penalties.
Mercedes Didn’t Have the Answer – Max Verstappen Secures USGP Pole
Max Verstappen secured pole for the US Grand Prix in dramatic fashion. After the first laps, Perez led from Verstappen, holding a nice advantage over the Mercedes cars. Lewis Hamilton then went quickest, before Max Verstappen jumped him by 0.209 seconds to take pole. Perez couldn’t quite keep up with his teammate and starts P3. Incredibly promising signs for the Mexican who has been much closer to Verstappen over the weekend than the majority of the season.
Valtterti Bottas finished P4, but drops to P9 with his engine penalty, leaving it two Red Bulls attacking the lone Mercedes car, a rare sight this season.
Title Protagonists React as Max Verstappen Secures USGP Pole
Max Verstappen has his eyes set on the race win: “It was exciting out there! P1 and P3 for the team is a very strong performance. I hope to have a good start tomorrow for the best possible result.”
Lewis Hamilton claimed to have pushed the car to the limit: “I gave it everything. Red Bull were incredibly quick. I am happy with my last lap because I think that was everything we had.”
On Sunday, George Russell, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will start from the back of the grid after taking power unit changes. For the third time in four races, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will also have an engine penalty. The Finn has taken a new internal combustion engine. Luckily for Bottas, as this is the second time he faces this penalty, he only drops back five places.
That was qualifying at its dramatic best!
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2021
For the first time in the turbo hybrid era, a Mercedes car isn’t on pole for the USGP. Ominous signs for Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton?
Lewis Hamilton has won from second on the grid here three times in 2012/14/15, could history repeat itself? Will Hamilton and Verstappen make contact again? Leave your race predictions below!
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images