Rosberg beats Hamilton to Austin pole


Nico Rosberg gave his championship chances a healthy boost by qualifying on pole at the US Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton. The Circuit of the Americas outside Austin will play host to a crucial chapter in the 2014 title battle on Sunday, with Hamilton currently leading Rosberg in the championship by 17 points. Rosberg has put himself in a strong position to close that gap on Sunday by taking his ninth pole position of the season, 0.376s clear of Hamilton, who was slower than his team-mate in the first and second sectors of the lap. Hamilton complained of issues under braking, which is a concern for the race and helps to explain his swing in form since final practice on Saturday morning. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas will start third on the grid but was nearly a second off the pace of Rosberg as Mercedes' domination of the grid this season continued. Bottas will be joined on the second row by team-mate Felipe Massa ahead of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull. World champion Sebastian Vettel will start from the pit lane in the second Red Bull after being penalised for a full power unit change ahead of the weekend. He completed just three laps in Q1 in order to set a time worthy of competing this weekend. Fernando Alonso was the highest-placed Ferrari in sixth position ahead of Jenson Button, who will be shuffled down to 12th once a penalty for a gearbox change is applied. That will promote McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen to seventh ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Sauber's Adrian Sutil qualified in the top ten for the first time this year with an impressive lap in Q2 as the team chases its first points this season to beat Marussia, which is not in Austin after going into administration. Pastor Maldonado looked quick throughout Q2 but just missed out on a place in the top ten by less than a tenth of a second. Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were also knocked out in Q2 along with Daniil Kvyat who will drop to the back of the grid with a penalty after his Toro Rosso required its seventh engine of the season. The second Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne will inherit 14th instead ahead of Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber. Romain Grosjean will start 16th after running wide at Turn 12 on his final qualifying attempt in Q1 and finishing the session at the bottom of the timesheets.