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United States GP 2016

OCTOBER 22, 2016

Qualifying Report - Never before

Lewis Hamilton, United States GP 2016
© Active Pictures

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By Dan Knutson in Austin

Lewis Hamilton has won the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas three times, but in the four editions of the event he had never before started from the pole. He finally earned the pole in his fifth try. He beat out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the process.

The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

QUALIFYING 1

With the first round of runs over, Hamilton clocked a 1:36.296 to beat out teammate Rosberg who turned a 1:36.397. And Verstappen's 1:36.613 edged out teammate Ricciardo's 1:36.759. Hulkenberg was fifth ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel.

Down at the cut line, Grosjean was 16th with Magnussen 15th and Gutierrez 17th.

That's how things stood with four minutes to go and with all the drivers in the pits. The top nine stayed in the pits and the rest went out and all were on track with less than two minutes remaining.

The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP1 were: Grosjean, Magnussen, Button, Wehrlein, Nasr and Ocon.

The fastest 16 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, Perez, Massa, Bottas, Sainz, Kvyat, Alonso, Ericsson, Gutierrez and Palmer.

QUALIFYING 2

Rosberg and Hamilton headed out early in the 15 minute session and set times of 1:36.351 and 1:36.450 respectively. They were on Pirelli's soft compound tires with a view to being able to use them for the start of the race if they used said tires to set their best lap time in Q2.

Ricciardo, on the super softs, went to the top of the times with a 1:36.255. Teammate Verstappen ran the soft compound to clock a 1:36.857, which put him sixth behind Vettel and Raikkonen.

"Interestingly, @redbullracing has a strong history of splitting strategies: probably to try and disrupt plans of @MercedesAMGF1 in the race," Pirelli tweeted.

Down at the bubble, Alonso was 10th, Perez ninth and Kvyat 12th.

This time, the top six remained at home while the rest of the field went shopping for a better lap time in the closing moments.

The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP2 were: Perez, Alonso, Kvyat, Gutierrez, Palmer and Ericsson.

The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Ricciardo, Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Sainz, Bottas and Massa.

QUALIFYING 3

Everybody in the 12-minute Q3 would, of course, be on the super soft tires, and Rosberg was the first to head out. He crossed the line in 1:35.442, but Hamilton beat that with a 1:35.370. Ricciardo grabbed third with a 1:35.928 while Verstappen was fourth with a 1:36.004.

Vettel got in at fifth and Raikkonen sixth. Hulkenberg, Sainz, Bottas and Massa did not make an initial run.

So now it was down to the final four minutes for the top 10 grid spots for the race to be decided.

Rosberg stopped the clock at 1:35.215, and moments later Hamilton did a 1:34.999 to take the pole. Verstappen took third from Ricciardo only to have Ricciardo retake the spot.

Raikkonen beat out Vettel. Hulkenberg, Bottas, Massa and Sainz rounded out the top 10.

Rosberg, Hamilton and Verstappen will start the race on the soft tires. The rest of the top 10 will be on the super soft Pirellis.