UNITED STATES GP – Max Verstappen takes sprint pole half a second ahead of Charles Leclerc

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen has taken pole position for the sprint at the United States Grand Prix, the Red Bull driver beat the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc by half a tenth. Verstappen went into the shootout looking to bounce back from a disappointing qualifying yesterday where he could only manage sixth for the Grand Prix.

The three-time champion looking to bounce back strongly by winning the sprint race ahead of the Grand Prix on Sunday. Lewis. Hamilton put his Mercedes third in what looked to be a competitive shootout, the seven-time champion was only a hundredth and a half behind the Ferrari with seven hundredths between the top ten.

Verstappen starts only sixth for Sunday’s grand prix after having his fastest lap deleted for exceeding track limits. That was despite aa spin on the exit of Becketts (Turn Nine), which saw him go wide but escaped without damage. Hamilton, couldn’t better his position from yesterday meaning he starts third for both the Grand Prix and the sprint.

Mercedes have brought their last major upgrade of the season, and he starts third for both races in Austin. But he was only fractionally behind Leclerc in SQ3, missing out on the front row by just over three-hundredths of the second.

Verstappen, who takes pole position for the sprint, “I think the whole day so far, you know in qualifying I think we were quite competitive, I think the last lap wasn’t particularly great but still on pole so that means that the car was working quite well. It’s going to be an exciting afternoon where you can see a lot of different cars being very close to each other.”

Hamilton said “I think it was a little bit closer from yesterday so we did make an improvement, but it was definitely a tough session, particularly on the mediums. But for us to be this close in Austin just shows we are progressing as a team and we can take that as a real positive.”

McLaren continued their strong resurgence Lando Norris fourth a quarter of a second ahead of teammate and Qatar sprint winner Oscar Piastri. Carlos Sainz was sixth ahead of Sergio Perez by a tenth, the Mexican struggling still to find the same pace as Verstappen as pressure grows on him as he is reportedly at risk of losing his seat if he doesn’t finish second in the drivers.

Perez was a tenth and a half ahead of George Russell after he was forced to run in SQ3 with a used soft having used all his sets on Friday. However Russell is under investigation for appearing to impede Leclerc going through the penultimate corners late in SQ1, with the Ferrari driver quipping, “And penalty for Mr Russell – thank you”, following the incident.

The Mercedes drivers have been rather closer to each other for most of this season, but Russell has hitherto not been able to extract the best from the upgraded W14 around the Circuit of the Americas.

Alex Albon bounced back strongly getting through to SQ3 and take ninth three hundredths faster than Pierre Gasly. The Williams driver was knocked out in Q1 for Grand Prix qualifying, but conditions were less blustery than yesterday and he was partly helped by other drivers only doing one run in SQ2 due to tyre limitations.

Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest of those knocked out in SQ2, the Alpha Tauri missing out on the top ten by three hundredths when Albon made a late improvement. The Australian taking part in his first race weekend since Spa nearly three months ago, having broken his wrist in FP2 at Zandvoort.

Ricciardo was half a tenth ahead of Fernando Alonso, having managed to escape SQ1 on his final run knocking out Nico Hulkenberg. Alonso was twelfth nearly a tenth faster than Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll, with former teammate Esteban Ocon splitting the two. The Alpine was nearly half a tenth faster than Stroll, and Guanyu Zhou was fifteenth.

Nico Hulkenberg was fastest of those knocked out in SQ1, the Haas driver missing out by just over a hundredth. But he out-qualified teammate Kevin Magnussen by a tenth and three quarters. Valtteri Bottas was eighteenth ahead of a fuming Yuki Tsunoda. The Alpha Tauri driver having a near miss with Hamilton, as he backed off on his cool down lap.

Logan Sargeant rounded out the field in twentieth.


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