Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast
Carlos Sainz took pole position in Austin, and will start the race ahead of Max Verstappen.
Drivers were slow to come out on track as the session began. The Williams cars and the Haas cars were the first out along with Zhou Guanyu.
Mick Schumacher was the first to top the timing sheets, setting a 1:37.816. But the faster cars came out as the clock ticked down, and easily went quicker.
Newly crowned champion Max Verstappen set his first flying lap with 11 minutes to go in the session, a 1:35.864. His teammate Sergio Perez was close behind. Then the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc went less than a tenth faster, before being topped by his teammate Carlos Sainz.
With six minutes to go, everyone returned to the pits for a few minutes before venturing out for their final laps. The Ferraris and the Red Bulls stayed in the garage, feeling safe with their times.
The bottom five going into the final minutes were Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, and Zhou. Tsunoda improved to ninth at the end of the first session, while Ricciardo only improved to 13th. Zhou improved to tenth and was the driver to knock Ricciardo into the bottom five.
Notably also in the bottom five was Esteban Ocon, who finished in 18th place.
Eliminated in Q1:
16. Kevin Magnussen
17. Daniel Ricciardo
18. Esteban Ocon
19. Mick Schumacher
20. Nicholas Latifi
The AlphaTauris were the first out on track for the second session of Qualifying at Austin. But it was Albon who set the first lap time of the session, a 1:37.124.
Sebastian Vettel went second behind Albon but had his lap time deleted for a track limits violation. In the meantime, the Alfa Romeo cars took the top two spots.
With seven minutes left, Verstappen came out and again took the top spot. But again he was quickly overtaken by Leclerc, who set a 1:35.246, with Sainz behind him.
After the gap where everyone came back into the pits to regroup, there were just three minutes to go. The drivers in danger at the time were Albon, Tsunoda, Lance Stroll, Gasly, and Vettel. Albon, Tsunoda, Gasly, and Vettel all improved, but in the end, all four of them landed in the bottom five. Norris was initially in that group, but a track limits penalty for Zhou snuck him back into the top ten.
Eliminated in Q2:
11. Alex Albon
12. Sebastian Vettel
13. Pierre Gasly
14. Zhou Guanyu
15. Yuki Tsunoda
With penalties to be applied for Leclerc, Alonso, and Perez, the battle for pole was wide open. Bottas was the first driver to set a lap in the session, a 1:36.747. He was topped by Alonso and Norris fairly quickly.
As usual, Verstappen came out and topped the session, but for the third time in a row Leclerc came through to take the top spot.
Sainz took second, while Hamilton took a surprising third as the time ticked down in the session. As the drivers came back into the pits, Stroll came out in an effort to set a good lap time in clean air. He succeeded, taking seventh place with no one else on track.
For the final laps, Leclerc seemed fastest, and initially held provisional pole. But Sainz, who doesn’t have any penalties to take, set a 1:34.356 and took pole position for the United States Grand Prix at Austin. Leclerc, who finished behind him, has a ten-place grid penalty. Perez and Alonso both have a five-place penalty to take, and will also start further down the order.
Top ten finishers:
1. Carlos Sainz
2. Charles Leclerc
3. Max Verstappen
4. Sergio Perez
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. George Russell
7. Lance Stroll
8. Lando Norris
9. Fernando Alonso
10. Valterri Bottas
More to follow…
Feature Image Credit: Getty Images