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Advantage Red Bull as Verstappen takes stunning pole at the US Grand Prix

Aditya Chaudhuri Aditya Chaudhuri

Red Bull the first team to start on pole at the COTA in turbo-hybrid era.

 

As Formula One returned to the United States, kicking off the business end of the season, it was advantage Red Bull as Max Verstappen put in a breathtaking lap to take pole position at Austin. Verstappen pipped out his championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who seemed to have done enough to continue Mercedes’ qualifying dominance at the COTA.

Behind Hamilton, it is Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez who will be making sure he puts all the pressure on Hamilton as it will be two Red Bulls against one this time round.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who qualified fourth, will start ninth given his engine penalties, which means Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starts fourth ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz.

Daniel Ricciardo is the lead McLaren driver, starting seventh, ahead of Lando Norris, while Pierre Gasly starts eighth with his teammate Yuki Tsunoda rounding off the top ten.

Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and George Russell will all start the race from the back of the grid given all three have taken engine penalties, but given the nature of the track, starting from the back doesn’t rule out a strong finish.

Verstappen’s ninth pole means he heads into Sunday with the advantage, but given how strong the COTA is for Hamilton and Mercedes, the Dutchman will have to be extremely careful to make sure he doesn’t slip up.

Although it might be advantage Red Bull after qualifying, if you had to put your money on one driver to take the fight to Red Bull, it would have to be Lewis Hamilton. The Brit has pulled his W12 into places it shouldn’t have ended in on multiple occasions, and even though after FP1 the Mercedes car wasn’t the quickest on the track, the seven-time World Champion nearly put it on pole.

Formula One has returned to Austin after two years, and it looks like it’s going to be worth the wait.

 

Qualifying Session 1 – (Eliminated – Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin)

Both Haas cars of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, along with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, got the session underway, with the Russian leading the trio.

Following the trio, championship leader Max Verstappen hit the ground early and went top of the timing sheets with a 1:34.521s. The Dutchman’s teammate Sergio Pérez, who topped the final practice session timing, slotted in P2, five-hundredths behind Verstappen.

Verstappen was quickly displaced by his former Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who went fastest with a 1:34.407s.

With just over two minutes to go, Fernando Alonso, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen and Nikita Mazepin were the bottom five. At the drop of the chequered flag, Alonso managed to scrape himself out of the bottom five, but it was Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who got eliminated.

 

Qualifying Session 2 – (Eliminated- Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi, Fernando Alonso and George Russell)

Both Mercedes cars were the first ones out on the track for the second qualifying session. Bottas went P1 with a 1:33.953s but was displaced by Verstappen, who went even quicker with a 1:33.464s with Hamilton slotted in P2 three-tenths behind.

As the final timings came in, Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso were the ones who missed out on the top-ten shootout, with Verstappen finishing at the top of the charts.

 

Qualifying Session 3 – Verstappen ends Mercedes’ qualifying dominance in Austin

The final qualifying session got underway with Lewis Hamilton setting the benchmark time of 1:33.564s. Bottas dislodged Hamilton from provisional pole by going eight-hundredths quicker with a 1:33.475s.

Both Mercedes drivers were removed from the top two slots eventually, with Sergio Pérez taking provisional pole with a stunning lap that saw him go fastest with a 1:33.180s.

As the cars set out for their final flying laps, Lewis Hamilton drove the wheels off his Mercedes to go P1 with a 1:33.119s, but it was Max Verstappen who pipped him by two-hundredths of a second to take pole with an effortless final flying lap.

Sergio Pérez made sure he was right on Hamilton’s tail by starting P3, his best starting grid in Austin.

 

The Final Starting Grid

Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton
Sergio Pérez
Charles Leclerc
Carlos Sainz
Daniel Ricciardo
Lando Norris
Pierre Gasly
Valtteri Bottas*
Yuki Tsunoda
Esteban Ocon
Antonio Giovinazzi
Lance Stroll
Nicholas Latifi
Kimi Räikkönen
Mick Schumacher
Nikita Mazepin
Sebastian Vettel*
Fernando Alonso*
George Russell*

*Engine penalties

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Aditya Chaudhuri

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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