hamiltonf1gpusa_quali-2016

2016 F1 Grand Prix of the United States — Qualifying results

Hamilton dominates with blistering lap for pole at COTA, Rosberg P2; Ricciardo P3 for Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton served notice that he is not ready to relinquish his championship just yet with a blistering lap at the Circuit of the Americas good enough not only for pole but also the F1 record at this relatively new circuit. After a string of disappointing results and bad mechanical luck, Hamilton’s stunning 1:34.999 time earned him the top starting spot for Sunday’s Grand Prix and reaffirmed his mastery at a track where he has always seemed to have a special affinity. Remarkably, Hamilton has won three out of the four F1 contests ever held at COTA. His Mercedes teammate, archrival and current points leader Nico Rosberg was just a blink beheind at 1:35.215, proving once again that there is very little to separate this dynamic but disparate duo. Hamilton must, repeat must avoid the clutch-bite issues that have plagued him and ruined so many of his starts this season if he is to regain momentum and get himself back into championship contention. One slip and Rosberg has shown repeatedly that he has what it takes to capitalize and drive perfectly from the front to victory and one step closer to his first-ever and much coveted Drivers’ Championship.

The Red Bulls showed the next best pace in the field, with Daniel Ricciardo pipping his younger teammate Max Verstappen, P3 to P4. Verstappen was nearly 4-tenths faster than the nearest Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in P5 and the other Prancing Horse of Sebastien Vettel was another 2-tenths behind that. The fabled Scuderia looks to have essentially conceded second in the Constructors’ Championship to surging Red Bull and will probably shift to expending their considerable resources on next season’s much changed specification.

Nico Hulkenberg was very strong for his soon to be former team, Force India. It was announced after the Japanese GP two weeks ago that Hulkenberg will be leaving the overachieving little Indian team for a factory drive with Renault next year. The two Williams had a reasonably encouraging day with both Valtteri Bottas (P8) and Felipe Massa (P9) sneaking into Q3 for a change. And Carlos Sainz finally gave badly underachieving Toro Rosso a small glimmer of hope by taking P10 on the starting grid.

Top 10 qualifiers for the US Grand Prix:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:36.296 1:36.450 1:34.999 13
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:36.397 1:36.351 1:35.215 13
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:36.759 1:36.255 1:35.509 12
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:36.613 1:36.857 1:35.747 12
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:36.985 1:36.584 1:36.131 12
6 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:37.151 1:36.462 1:36.358 13
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:36.950 1:36.626 1:36.628 12
8 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:37.456 1:37.202 1:37.116 12
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:37.402 1:37.214 1:37.269 12
10 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:37.744 1:37.175 1:37.326 14

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s US Grand Prix airs live at 3PM Eastern tomorrow on NBC. Can hamilton convert pole into a much needed win to keep his championship hopes alive? Or will Rosberg foil him yet again en route to his his first title? Hope to see you then to find out?