Rosberg ends up on top in Austin after delayed & truncated qualifying, Hamilton P2; Ricciardo snags 3rd in the wet
With the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia dumping rain on the Circuit of the Americas at a record clip, Formula 1 found itself in the unusual position of postponing the traditional Saturday Qualifying until race day morning on Sunday. And while the rains never stopped they did let up enough to get in two sessions of the scheduled three knockout rounds of qualifying to determine the grid for the United States Grand Prix, which is to be run at 2:30 Central/3:30 Eastern today. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg managed the best lap in treacherous conditions at the wonderful new track in Austin, Texas, just pipping his Championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton for the pole by a tenth of a second. With Hamilton all but fitted for this year’s title crown, however, and the weather supposed to be gradually improving as we count down to the race, it’s not at all certain that Rosberg’s accomplishment will really mean anything significant in the big picture.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was also excellent under the persistent threat of aquaplaning and managed the 3rd fastest time while his teammate Daniil Kvyat took P4. Force India’s Sergio Perez was an impressive P5 and teammate Nico Hulkenberg solid at P6. Felipe Massa pulled himself up to P7 late in the going, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a distant P10, and rookie Max Verstappen was P8 for Toro Rosso while Fernando Alonso drove superbly in his woeful McLaren to grab P9. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are facing 10 grid-spot penalties for engine changes and will start P14 and P18 respectively, greatly improving Hamilton’s chances of clinching his second consecutive title this weekend. Vettel is his nearest if still distant pursuer and starting so far back really hurts the German’s chances of scoring enough points to keep his hopes alive for the next race in Mexico.
If anyone doubts that Formula 1 drivers are the best in the world they have only to look at the remarkable footage of them manhandling their machines in the deluge at COTA to make them a convert. It was truly one of the more amazing performances by a group of drivers that I’ve ever witnessed. Here’s wishing them less treacherous conditions for the race!
Top 10 Qualifiers at COTA:
|3||3||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||1:56.495||1:57.969||16|
|4||26||DANIIL KVYAT||RED BULL RACING||1:57.640||1:58.434||16|
|5||11||SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA||1:59.284||1:59.210||16|
|6||27||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA||1:58.325||1:59.333||16|
|8||33||MAX VERSTAPPEN||TORO ROSSO||1:58.689||2:00.199||17|
The teams and drivers will really have to turn it around quickly as the race begins in just about an hour. It can be seen live on NBC here in the states.