Verstappen denies Hamilton pole in Austin
By Mat Coch
Sunday 24th October, 2021 - 9:09am
Max Verstappen emerged victorious over Lewis Hamilton in a late qualifying duel for pole position for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.
Late laps from both title protagonists saw the Mercedes driver take pole as the chequered flag fell to end the session, only for Verstappen to claim the place.
Sergio Perez came close to a maiden pole, holding the spot provisionally before the late flurry saw him demoted to third.
Bottas qualified fourth (but will take a five-place grid penalty) while Daniel Ricciardo got the better of team-mate Lando Norris, the two McLarens seventh and eighth fastest respectively.
The early minutes of the session proved busy with Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull all sending both their cars out.
Max Verstappen was the initial benchmark with a 1:34.521s from team-mate Perez.
Those times didn’t stand as a strong final sector saw Ricciardo go fastest with 1:34.407s with Norris third best with a 1:34.551s.
The Dutchman hit back with a 1:34.352s, quickly followed by Perez with a 1:34.369s.
With four minutes remaining in the opening segment, neither Kimi Raikkonen nor Nikita Mazepin had set a legal time – their sole efforts to that point having been deleted due to track limits.
Though they eventually managed to record a time, both were eliminated at the end of Qualifying 1, joining Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, and Mick Schumacher.
Hamilton and Bottas emerged from the garage early, the latter the pilot fish as they ran in close formation.
The Finn’s effort resulted in a 1:33.959s, bested by Hamilton seconds later with a 1:33.797s.
Red Bull, which had mirrored Mercedes’ early approach, responded with a 1:33.464s from Verstappen to go fastest.
Running wide at the penultimate corner resulted in Perez having his initial Q2 time deleted, a 1:34.074s.
Ricciardo also had his time deleted, a 1:34.248s, as Norris went third best in the sister McLaren.
With just under six minutes to run, Perez headed back on track.
Almost two minutes later, McLaren sent Ricciardo out, Antonio Giovinazzi heading a queue of traffic.
That line of traffic emerged from the lane as Perez started his flying lap, though the Mexican was able to complete a 1:34.178s to go seventh fastest.
Ricciardo’s lap started with less than two minutes remaining, the Australian recording a 1:34.643 to go only ninth best on a set of medium tyres.
The chequered flag fell soon after, condemning Esteban Ocon, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Alonso, and George Russell, the Williams driver’s best deleted for track limits at Turn 9.
Qualifying 3 commenced with Hamilton recording a 1:33.564s, quickly bumped by Bottas’ 1:33.475s seconds later.
Norris’ initial effort netted a 1:34.015s which was third best until Ricciardo logged a 1:33.903s only for the Ferrari pairing to both go faster still.
Red Bull then stunned the field, Verstappen setting a 1:33.199s before Perez put himself on provisional pole with a 1:33.180s.
A sluggish first sector for Hamilton on his second push lap ultimately netted a 1:33.119s to edge his way to provisional pole as light rain was reported in the pits.
Verstappen wouldn’t be denied, recording a 1:32.910s to usurp Hamilton and claim top spot.
Perez improved on his final lap but fell shy of the front row, his 1:23.134s leaving him alongside Bottas on the second row.
Ferrari locked out the third row, Leclerc ahead of Sainz, followed by Ricciardo, Norris, and the AlphaTauri duo of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.
Results: Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, Qualifying
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:34.352||1:33.464||1:32.910|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:34.369||1:34.178||1:33.134|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:34.567||1:34.583||1:34.118|
|10||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:35.360||1:35.137||1:34.918|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:35.281||1:35.500|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:35.920||1:35.794|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:35.983|
|18||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:36.311|