F1 US Grand Prix qualifying results: Valtteri Bottas leads the way for Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton starts fifth, needing four points to secure title
Lewis Hamilton needs to score just four points on Sunday to guarantee his sixth F1 World Championship and although he is not going to cruise to a points-scoring finish, it is going to be tough for him to win the United States Grand prix from fifth place on the grid
Pole position went to his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Hamilton was struggling to get his car to handle over the bumps on the Austin circuit. Lewis was 0.292 of a second slower than Valtteri and complained that the bumps were giving him headaches. Hamilton admitted, however, that the problems were with him, rather than with the car.
“I just didn’t pull the laps out together today,” he said. “Clearly the car had the capability to be on the front row and I just didn’t do it today. My fault.”
Bottas is the only man who can beat Hamilton to the title, but he must win all the races to do it, without Hamilton being able to collect four points.
“He’s leading the championship with a big margin,” said Bottas, “and he doesn’t need many points. I’m sure he’d like to win the championship in a nice way. I’ll try to delay that.”
Bottas’ pole time was set on the red soft compound tire, but his best Q2 time was established on the yellow medium, which means that this is the tire he will start the race on Sunday. Hamilton, the two Ferraris and Max Verstappen will also start on mediums.
“I knew how to put it together in Q3,” Bottas said. “I’m glad no one could improve at the end. Happy days!”
Sebastian Vettel was second quickest for Ferrari and got within 0.012 of a second of Bottas, but it was not enough.
“it was a very nice session” he said., “It was really fun to drive the car this afternoon, but if you are so close to pole but just on the wrong side of it, I guess Valtteri had a little bit more fun. I had a very good first lap, and I had some margin in maybe the last sector where I was maybe taking it a little bit too conservative, making sure that I finished the lap and set the lap first, and then improved on the second lap. Unfortunately, I didn’t improve, so my plan didn’t quite work, but overall it was good. I think we will have a strong race.”
Max Verstappen was third quickest with his Red Bull Honda and was also very close, the gap to Bottas being just 0.07 of a second.
Charles Leclerc was fourth quickest, despite an engine problem in FP3., while Alexander Albon was sixth behind Hamilton, having qualified on soft tires. The best of the rest were the two McLaren-Renaults with Carlos Sainz seventh and Lando Norris eighth with the top 10 rounded out by Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso).
There is little doubt, however, that the race will go to one of the top six cars and the signs are that on Sunday Lewis can complete the task required earning those four points. Will he also win the race?
Perhaps not, but it should still be a great fight as the top three teams go head to head.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||01:33.5||01:33.1||01:32.1||16|
|6||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||01:34.0||01:32.9||01:32.5||14|
|7||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||01:33.9||01:33.4||01:32.8||15|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||01:33.4||01:33.3||01:33.2||18|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||01:33.6||01:33.7||01:33.6||19|
|12||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||01:33.8||01:34.0||12|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||01:34.1||01:34.0||14|
|14||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||01:33.9||01:34.1||14|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||01:34.2||01:34.2||14|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||01:34.2||8|
|17||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||01:34.4||8|
|18||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||01:35.4||9|
|19||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||01:35.8||5|
|20||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||01:35.9||9|
Note – Perez required to start the race from the pit lane for ignoring a weighbridge call during practice.