United States GP: Hamilton on pole as Vettel snatches second

United States GP: Hamilton on pole as Vettel snatches second:

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 72nd Formula 1 pole position with a dominant performance in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was fastest in all three segments of qualifying, ending up 0.239s clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

This was despite a poor final sector on his Hamilton’s second Q3 run preventing him from improving, meaning the 1m33.108s he set on his first attempt was good enough for pole.

Vettel had been only fourth on the first runs in Q3, but hooked up a strong second lap to jump ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who also lost time in the final sector and did not improve on his first run time.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest thanks to setting his laptime before Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, the duo setting identical marks of 1m33.577s.

Max Verstappen, who has a 15-place grid penalty, was sixth fastest and is the only driver from the top 10 in qualifying who will start on supersofts rather than ultrasofts having used the slower Pirelli compound to set his Q2 time.

Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest, a second off Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz completed only one run in Q3 thanks to only having one set of fresh supersofts, ending up eighth.

Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.

Felipe Massa was eliminated in Q2 after a late improvement from Perez, missing out by less than half-a-tenth and ending up 11th.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was 12th ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who has a five-place grid penalty thanks to the upgraded Honda V6 engine that was introduced at the start of the weekend, and Romain Grosjean.

Nico Hulkenberg ended qualifying 15th having opted not to run in Q2 for what the team described as “strategic” reasons because of his 20-place grid penalty for engine component changes.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the quickest of the drivers to be eliminated in Q1, missing out thanks to being just seven thousandths slower than Grosjean.

That put him ahead of Lance Stroll, who complained over the radio of a deployment problem on his final run that he subsequently said cost him eight tenths on the back straight.

The Williams driver is also being investigated by stewards for impeding Grosjean, having jinked to his right and off the track while the Haas driver was attempting to go around the outside of him.

Toro Rosso debutant Brendon Hartley, who has a 25-place grid penalty, was 18th fastest, having briefly lifted himself out of the drop zone early in the final-run flurry before being shuffled back.

The New Zealander was ultimately only 0.054s off a place in Q2, having lapped eighth tenths slower than teammate Daniil Kvyat’s Q1 time.

Pascal Wehrlein was 19th for Sauber, with Kevin Magnussen slowest for Haas.

Magnussen is also being investigated by stewards for impeding Perez through Turns 13/14.