Lewis Hamilton edges out Ferraris for U.S. Grand Prix pole
U.S. Grand Prix - Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton edges out Ferraris for U.S. Grand Prix pole

21/10/2018

Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position at the U.S. Grand Prix in an incredibly tight qualifying session that saw both Ferraris set times within 0.070s of the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton can secure the title on Sunday if he outscores Sebastian Vettel by eight points or more on Sunday and he gave himself the best possible chance of doing that by ensuring he starts at the very front of the grid. Vettel was second fastest, just 0.061s off Hamilton's new track record of 1:32.237, but will start fifth after a three-place penalty for speeding under red flags in practice is applied to the grid.

Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen was also in the running to ruin Hamilton's party, but fell 0.070s short as Hamilton found time over both Ferraris in the final sector of the lap. After using the ultra-soft to set his Q2 time, Raikkonen will start the race on a softer compound than Hamilton, who opted for super-softs, which may offer an advantage on the run up the hill to Turn 1. However, Hamilton's super-soft starting tyres are likely to offer more strategy options in the race and were also the compound of choice for Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

Bottas' Q3 time was 0.379s off his teammate Hamilton and means he will start third once Vettel's grid penalty is applied. He lost time in all three sectors to Hamilton and simply didn't have the pace to trouble the front row of the grid. Riccardo was a further 0.9s off the lead Mercedes, leaving him fifth fastest and fourth on the grid.

Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen had to retire from qualifying after he damaged his cars on the exit of Turn 15. He ran wide at the corner and over the large orange kerbs designed to prevent drivers from exceeding track limits and the immediate exchange over team radio suggested the impact through the rear axel had broken the Red Bull's driveshaft.

In Verstappen's absence, Esteban Ocon secured sixth place on the grid for Force India with a time 1.908s off pole position. Ocon was just 0.070s ahead of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, who in turn held a 0.035s margin over the Haas of Romain Grosjean. Charles Leclerc secured ninth on the grid for Sauber ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez in tenth.

Carlos Sainz will start 11th on the grid after missing out on a place in the top ten by 0.002s to Renault teammate Hulkenberg. He will start the race ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who struggled to hook a lap up and finished the second session 0.313s off teammate Grosjean. The two Toro Rosso drivers, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, opted against setting times in the second session due to grid penalties for engine changes that will see them start at the back of the grid regardless. That will promote Verstappen to 13th, who ended the session classified in 15th position after he progressed to Q2 but was unable to take part.

Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.088s after setting a time 0.441s clear of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who qualified last. The two Williams drivers also dropped out in the opening session in 17th and 18th, but just beat Sauber's Marcus Ericsson who was 19th fastest. All five of the drivers at the back of the grid will move up two places when the penalties for the two Toro Rosso drivers are applied.

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