United States Grand Prix 2021: Max Verstappen went the fastest in qualifying Saturday and secured the pole position for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Valtterri Bottas qualified fourth but will drop to P9 for the race because of a grid penalty.
Verstappen looked quick in final practice his Red Bull team appearing to have made big gains overnight – and carried that through to qualifying, where he absorbed pressure from Hamilton to take pole with a 1m32.910s.
Mercedes came to Austin having taken every pole during the hybrid turbo era, which began in 2014, but they looked to have lost their edge early in qualifying, with Hamilton 0.399s off the pace in Q2.
Somehow, Hamilton found more pace in the final runs of Q3, and was a quarter of a second up after two sectors, but lost time in the third, and while he took provisional pole by a fraction, Verstappen was running quicker behind him.
Despite light rain starting to fall in the final few seconds, Verstappen kept his foot in and carried the momentum through the final sequence of corners to take pole, with his team mate Sergio Perez third.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was fourth, however he’ll drop to ninth courtesy of a five-place grid penalty for exceeding his engine allocation. That’ll promote Charles Leclerc one place to fourth, the Ferrari driver edging out team mate Carlos Sainz.
Daniel Ricciardo was the leading McLaren in eighth, ahead of team mate Lando Norris, with AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda closing out the top 10.
Both Red Bulls did cool down laps before going again, with Verstappen pumping in the quickest time, 0.017s ahead of Perez, who has kept his team mate honest all weekend.
Mercedes sent Hamilton and Bottas out for a second run on used soft tyres and while they improved, they remained outside the top five. And with just a few moments to go, Leclerc gave Ferrari P1 by 0.19s as the track ramped up.
At the other end of the classification, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were in the drop zone. Alonso got himself out with his final lap, and that demoted Lance Stroll, who had a lap deleted earlier in the session and could not react.
He was joined in the drop zone by Nicholas Latifi, Raikkonen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin – with Antonio Giovinazzi surviving a spin on his final lap to become the only Alfa Romeo to progress into the next segment of qualifying.