F1 2016 United States Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton storms to pole position in Austin, Texas
PUBLISHED: 11:52 23 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:04 23 October 2016
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in qualifying for the 2016 United States Grand Prix with a blistering lap at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The 31-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire produced an awesome Q3 lap on Saturday to deny Silver Arrows rival Nico Rosberg pole.
Hamilton today took his 58th career pole position and ninth of the 2016 season so far with a time of 1m 34.999s – the first lap under 1m 35s of the weekend.
World championship leader Rosberg completed a 11th Silver Arrows front row lockout of the season in P2 with a time of 1m 35.215s – two-tenths slower than Hamilton.
The Mercedes pair will line up on the Austin grid with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on the second row.
Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel qualified fifth and sixth respectively in the provisional qualifying results.
After claiming his first pole at the Circuit of the Americas, Hamilton said: “We’ve been working so hard and this is a really good reward for everyone at the team.
“I’m really pleased it all came together today so I could claim my first pole in the US.
“I’ve always been quite bad around the first corner, finding it hard to get the right line and losing time at this part of the track but today I finally got it right – and it was the right time to do so!”
Thirty-three points behind Rosberg in the title race, Stevenage-born racer Hamilton added: “I feel strong this weekend and I’m just going to approach Sunday like any other race. “We’ve done a lot of work to solidify our starts as well as our long run pace and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”
After qualifying second on Saturday in America, Rosberg said: “I produced a good lap for my final run in Q3, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough as Lewis found some extra time in the first sector.
“As we’ve seen this year, it’s not always about where you qualify and I believe I still have a great chance at winning tomorrow’s race.
“I’ll try to catch Lewis as we head towards the first corner but it’s a track that provides plenty of opportunities if it doesn’t happen there.
“It would be fantastic to leave here on Sunday night with a first US Grand Prix win.”
Both Mercedes drivers completed a single run in Q1 (SuperSoft), a single run in Q2 (Soft) and two runs in Q3 (SuperSoft/SuperSoft)
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: “It is fantastic to see both cars in the top two spots after a tricky day for us here in Austin.
“We had a messy FP3 session, failing to complete laps on the SuperSoft tyre, and it looked from yesterday’s running like the gaps to Red Bull and Ferrari would be very close.
“But we put our heads down last night, worked through the problems we’d been having and it’s a positive surprise to see the gap back to Red Bull today.
“They have taken a bit of an advantage by splitting the tyre strategies on their cars, which is not something we want to do with our boys at this stage of the season, and that could make things harder for us tomorrow.”
Paddy Lowe, the team’s executive director, added: “Congratulations to Lewis on a fantastic pole position.
“Again, it was a very close competition with Nico throughout all of qualifying.
“We elected to take the soft tyre for the race start, finishing Q2 with two good laps on that compound.
“We came into Q3 and actually, from the first run, demonstrated some good pace compared to the Ferraris and Red Bulls but both drivers left some performance on the table.
“They were both able to improve second time out, especially Lewis, who produced an outstanding lap and improvement, particularly in sector one.
“We’re looking forward to putting on an exciting race tomorrow leading from the front row of the grid.”
US Grand Prix Circuit stats
• 2015 winner: Lewis Hamilton, 56 laps, 1:50:52.703s
• 2015 pole position: Nico Rosberg, 1m56.824s
• 2015 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg, 1m40.666s (lap 49)
• Name: Circuit of The Americas
• First race: 2012
• Circuit length: 5.515km/3.427 miles (9th longest of the season)
• Distance to Turn One: 280m/0.174 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
• Longest straight: 1.09km/0.677 miles, on the approach to the Turn 12
• Top speed: 330km/h/205mph, on the approach to Turn 12
• Pitlane length: 385m/0.239 miles, estimated time loss 22s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)
• Full throttle: 63 per cent
• DRS zones: Two, on the approach to Turns One and 12
• Key corner: Turn One. The apex of this left-hander is the highest point on the lap and the steep uphill approach allows the drivers to brake very late. The corner is blind, requiring precision and commitment from the drivers, and a good exit is vital because a high-speed section follows.
• Fastest corner: 260km/h (162mph), Turn 18
• Slowest corner: 80km/h (50mph), Turn 15
• Major changes for 2016: None, except for maintenance work on kerbs and Astroturf
• Fuel consumption: 1.89kg per lap, which is average
• ERS demands: ERS is deployed for around 35 percent of the lap, which is average. There are several heavy braking areas in which to replenish the battery
• Brake wear: Medium. There are 10 braking zones, but only four of them are heavy. Just 14 per cent of the lap is spent on the brakes
• Gear changes: 54 per lap/3,024 per race
Saturday was a frustrating qualifying session for the McLaren-Honda team, following more promising performances in the earlier practice sessions.
In Q1, on a track almost 10 degrees C hotter than in FP3, Jenson Button struggled heavily with traffic on both his runs.
On his final lap he came up against a gaggle of four cars in Sector Three and was impeded by the last one in the final corner, which destroyed any chances of his progressing into Q2. He will start 19th on the grid.
Fernando Alonso was more fortunate with traffic in Q1, and was able to build enough of a margin that he didn’t need to complete his final precautionary run.
However, despite having delivered a very strong lap, he was not able to progress beyond Q2 and will start the race from P12.
Alonso said: “We weren’t quick enough to make it into Q3, and we were lacking some rhythm too.
“Having said that, getting the car into Q3 in ninth or tenth but then having to start the race on used SuperSoft tyres would be a problem, as other cars would catch us easily after four or five laps owing to the degradation.
“So, let’s say that 11th for us would have been pole position and 12th is second-best. We’ll start on new tyres and we’ll be able to attack.”
The former world champion added: “It seems like all the Mercedes-powered teams here got an extra boost and are more competitive, which has made life a little more difficult for us.
“If we want to score some points in the race we need to raise our game and find a clever way.”
Button said: “It’s disappointing to be in P19 after qualifying. Our pace was good yesterday [Friday] and this morning [Saturday] – eighth and ninth positions – so there’s definitely something not quite right there.
“I went out on the Softs to start with and we thought we’d have enough pace, but it was a tough lap and I hit a lot of traffic. If we’d judged it right at the end when we put the SuperSofts on, it might have been fine, but it wasn’t.
“I had four cars to overtake in the last sector alone, and then the last one [Jolyon Palmer] didn’t move out of the way.
“He saw me really late and stayed on the racing line, so I had to outbrake into the last corner.
“It’s so important to brake late and carry speed into there and you can’t do that if you’re offline, it hurts the tyres a lot more. It’s disappointing.
“Hopefully we can make up some ground in the race but it’s going to be a tough day – we have good race pace but overtaking around here will be almost impossible for us.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda’s racing director, added: “Fernando drove a near-perfect Q2 lap here in Austin – but, even so, he narrowly failed to go through to Q3, missing out by just 0.169s, ending up 12th.
“However, our car is more competitive relative to our principal rivals’ in terms of race pace than it is in terms of qualifying pace.
“So, while P12 is far from ideal, it nonetheless gives him a platform from which to attack, in an effort to progress through the field to some extent and thereby score world championship points.
“By contrast, Jenson was very disappointed to be eliminated in Q1, having recorded only the 19th-fastest time.
“Unfortunately, he encountered traffic on what would otherwise have been a very good lap, and was baulked badly at the end of it by Palmer, the combination of those two issues scuppering JB’s chances to show what he could do.
“Our data shows that, without those problems, he’d have passed through to Q2 every bit as easily as did Fernando.
“It’s irritating, but it happens.”