Hamilton Breaks Circuit Record; Wins Pole in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas—R.I.S.- After becoming the first driver this season to take all three practices sessions in one grand prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of the United States Grand Prix Saturday afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas by taking a 1:33:108 pole lap, breaking the track record, and starting on the front row for the 72nd time in his career. Sebastian Vettel, who was in dire need for a good track position, came out late in the final session to finish second, while Valterri Bottas took third.
“The team did a great job, and the track was good today.” Hamilton stated after qualifying. “With the wind picking up at the end of turn one, tail wind into two and a headwind into nine, it was shifting all the way though the lap. But this is why I love this track, man. It is a great, fantastic circuit, I love it. It is the right temperature today, not too hot and the sun is out. We can at least enjoy it. It is going to be a great race tomorrow.”
Hamilton, as he has done all weekend, took advantage even in the first two sessions, taking the fastest time in the first session and even making it better in the second, with a 1:33:560 fastest time early on, breaking the circuit record. Hamilton continued to improve, finishing the second session even further, with a 1:33:437.
But in the last session, Hamilton went out early and broke the record again, with a 1:33:108, pulling into the pits afterwards until minutes before the conclusion of qualifying, where he made an unsuccessful attempt to improve.
For the rest of the top ten, Daniel Ricciardo took fourth in his Red Bull, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the second Ferrari. Despite being issued a penalty for an engine change, Max Verstappen was sixth, while Esteban Ocon continued his good qualifying record in his Force India by taking seventh. In his first drive for his new Renault team, Carlos Sainz Jr. was eighth, while Fernando Alonso finished an impressive ninth. Sergio Perez concluded the final session qualifiers by finishing in tenth.
Although Hamilton has a chance to clinch the world title if he wins and Vettel finishes worse than sixth, Hamilton himself feels that it will not happen, especially with Vettel sitting next to him on the front row.
“I think it is highly unlikely this will be the case,” said Hamilton. “Sebastian (Vettel) did a great job in bringing the Ferrari back up there, and I will do my best to get maximum points and Sebastian is right up there.”
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
At the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
1Lewis Hamilton (GBR) AMG Mercedes – 1:33:108
2Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
3Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
4Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
5Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
6Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
7Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
8Carlos Sainz(SPA) Renault
9Fernando Alonso(SPA) McLaren-Honda
10Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
11Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
12Dani Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso
13Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren-Honda
14Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
15Nico Hulkenberg(GER) Renault
16Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
17Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing
18Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
19Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber
20 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.