Carlos Sainz has taken his third career pole position with top spot at the United States Grand Prix.
The Spaniard dueled exclusively for pole with Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who had taken provisional pole after the first laps, while both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen threatened from third and fourth.
Leclerc improved with his second lap, but not enough to fend off Sainz, who bested him by 0.065s.
It’s Ferrari’s first pole at the Circuit of The Americas, but Sainz said it wasn’t enough to make his team favorite for victory.
“It was fun—a lot of fun,” he said. “I managed to put together a good lap without mistakes, but I’m not going to lie, I think for tomorrow Red Bull are still favorites. They normally have better race pace, but we’re going to do everything we can to try and stay ahead tomorrow. To win the race would be an amazing way to start these last four races.”
Leclerc was disappointed to be beaten but couldn’t start from pole anyway given he will serve a 10-place penalty for changing his internal combustion engine and turbocharger, dropping him to 12th.
“The goal is to try and come back to the front as quickly,” he said.” I will give my best; no crazy risks, but if there’s an opportunity, I will be there to take it.”
Verstappen was third fastest with tires that couldn’t last the distance into the final sector, but the Dutchman will start from the front row alongside Sainz after penalties.
“We tried to give it everything today in qualifying,” the championship leader said. “Unfortunately we missed out by a little bit. I think our car, normally in the race, is a bit strong (compared to) qualifying. We are there, and I’m expecting a good race tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez was fourth quickest but will drop five places to ninth for an engine change, promoting Lewis Hamilton to third ahead of Mercedes teammate George Russell.
Lance Stroll will follow in a superb fifth for Aston Martin alongside McLaren’s Lando Norris in sixth, up from seventh and eighth.
Fernando Alonso qualified ninth but will drop to 14th with a five-place engine penalty, moving Valtteri Bottas up from 10th to seventh.
Alex Albon was pipped for a spot in the top-10 shootout by just 0.027s but will start eighth after penalties ahead of the dropped Perez in ninth.
Sebastian Vettel qualified 12th for Aston Martin but will start 10th ahead of a furious Pierre Gasly, who blasted his team over radio on his cool-down lap about a braking problem costing him into the tight Turns 1 and 11 at the end of the straights.
Leclerc follows in a penalized 12th ahead of Zhou Guanyu, who had momentarily made Q3 only for his fastest lap to be deleted for inching over the white line at Turn 12.
Alonso will start 14th ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in 15th.
Kevin Magnussen was Haas’s quickest driver, qualifying 16th as the first driver to be eliminated in Q1. The Dane ambitiously asked his team to analyze the final laps of other drivers in case any could lose their times to track limits, but to no avail.
Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were the session’s biggest shocks, with neither stringing together a clean final lap to progress.
It was Ricciardo’s third Q1 elimination in the last five races, and both he and Ocon were around 0.6s slower than their Q2-bound teammates.
Mick Schumacher was 19th in the second Haas car ahead of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.
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