Lewis Hamilton storms to 2017 United States Grand Prix pole position
PUBLISHED: 11:01 22 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Lewis Hamilton produced another qualifying masterclass to secure pole position for today's 2017 United States Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old Formula One driver from Hertfordshire claimed his 72nd career pole with a stunning lap around the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
The Mercedes-Benz F1 star set a new track record at the COTA, where he could clinch a fourth world title later today.
He posted a time of 1m 33.108s to chalk up his 117th front-row start, which is a new all-time record in Formula One.
It was his second pole position at the American track, and his 11th of the 2017 season.
Sebastian Vettel will start on the front row alongside Hamilton, although the Ferrari driver was 0.239 seconds slower than the world championship leader.
Hamilton said: “The team have done an exceptional job all weekend to filter the data that we have gathered and put the car in the right place.
“This is such a fantastic circuit – it’s really challenging, you’re constantly dancing with the car.
“I’m really happy to be on pole, but we know we’re often strong through practice and qualifying and have found the races tougher this year.”
Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas will start today’s US GP from third place on the grid.
“I’m looking forward to a nice race with Sebastian and Valtteri,” said Stevenage-born Hamilton after qualifying in the USA.
“This is a track where you can follow and overtake.
“I remember the race in 2012 when I passed Sebastian for the win – I hope he’s not that close tomorrow, but let’s see.”
With a 59-point championship lead, Hamilton will win a fourth world title if he scores 16 more points than Sebastian Vettel.
He will clinch the championship if he takes the United States Grand Prix chequered flag and Vettel finishes sixth or below.
If Hamilton comes second, he will only take the title if Vettel finishes 10th or below.
Saturday’s qualifying result marks the 13th pole position of the 2017 season for the Mercedes-Benz team.
Both Silver Arrows drivers completed one run on the SuperSoft compound tyres in Q1, then two runs on the UltraSofts in both Q2 and Q3.
Bottas, who was four-tenths slower than Hamilton in P3, said: “It was quite a tricky session; each lap was different because of the wind.
“Otherwise, it was a pretty straightforward day. We’ve made quite a few set-up changes over the weekend as we work to make the car quicker.
“There were no big mistakes; I was just lacking that extra bit of pace.
“I was losing most of the time in the last sector, but that’s not a big surprise as that’s where the slow-speed corners and technical sections are.
“However, anything is still possible tomorrow. Our race pace looked promising, so it should be a good fight.
“Three teams can win tomorrow, so we really need to give it everything we’ve got.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “That was an unusual end to the qualifying session, with neither driver improving on the final run, but we must be very happy with that pole position.
“Lewis has been faultless in the past few races and this was another great lap – it’s a strong circuit for him and he has enjoyed a healthy advantage all weekend.
“Valtteri made good progress with the car overnight and was much closer in qualifying than yesterday in practice; but he couldn’t make another step on the final lap, so was beaten to the front row by Vettel.
“This just shows the fine margins that we are working with when it comes to putting every piece of the puzzle together.
“However, P1 and P3 are very good starting positions to have a strong race.”
Mercedes technical director James Allison added: “I am delighted for Lewis to have secured pole position – and the team’s fourth in a row at this circuit.
“Any day when you start a Grand Prix from P1 and P3 is a good one.
“But after the metronomic progression through each round of qualifying, we were left with the feeling that there was perhaps a tenth or two more in the car on that final run, and that the front row was within our grasp.
“However, it would be churlish to be anything other than delighted with the result.
“Looking forward to the race, the combination of good grid positions and our high fuel running on Friday shows that we have a good opportunity for both cars to have a strong race.”