Formula 1: Hamilton and Vettel on front row for Austin

22 October 2017

Formula 1: Hamilton and Vettel on front row for Austin

Photo credit: Zak Mauger/LAT/Sutton Images (Formula 1 website)

Lewis Hamilton has taken yet another pole position for Mercedes this season, with a lap time of 1:33.108 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Lining up beside him for the United States Grand Prix is the Ferrari of main championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who is expected to push hard in an attempt to reduce Hamilton’s 59-point lead.

On the second row of the grid will be Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who set an identical Q3 lap time to the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen — Ricciardo set his time first, however, so Räikkönen will start from fifth. Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen qualified in sixth, but has incurred a 15-place grid penalty for taking on additional power unit elements; after other drivers’ penalties he will start 17th.

Esteban Ocon qualified seventh for Force India and maintained his reputation for consistency. Next came Carlos Sainz Jr in a strong first qualifying session after joining Renault where he replaced Jolyon Palmer. Fernando Alonso qualified ninth for McLaren, followed by the Force India of Sergio Pérez to round out the top-10.

Felipe Massa qualified 11th for Williams, followed by the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat who has sat out the last two races. Kvyat’s stand-in, Pierre Gasly, was to compete in the Super Formula finale in Suzuka, Japan, on the same weekend as the US Grand Prix, but the finale has been cancelled due to Typhoon Lan. Each of these drivers will be promoted one place on the grid as a result of Verstappen’s penalty.

Stoffel Vandoorne qualified in 13th for McLaren, but has incurred a five-place grid penalty for taking on additional power unit elements, resulting in the promotion of Romain Grosjean (Haas) from 14th to 12th. Nico Hülkenberg opted to conserve his Renault’s new power unit and did not set a time in Q2 — despite qualifying 15th he will start 19th having taken on additional power unit elements.

Marcus Ericsson managed to qualify in 16th for Sauber in a season that has seen the Swiss team starting predominantly at the very back of the grid. Ericsson will benefit significantly from other drivers’ penalties and start 13th. The Swede also continues his record of having never been out-qualified by a teammate at the Circuit of the Americas. His teammate Pascal Wehlrein will benefit even more: having qualified 19th he will start 15th, with Vandoorne’s penalised McLaren between them.

Wehrlein’s promotion comes at the expense of Lance Stroll (Williams) and Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso). Stroll qualified 17th, but was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding another driver (Romain Grosjean) in qualifying. However, due to other drivers’ penalties, Stroll will in fact start 16th — one place higher than he qualified. Hartley has been given a 25-place grid penalty for taking on additional power unit elements, and will start last on the grid in his Formula 1 debut despite qualifying 18th. His appearance marks the first time a New Zealander has taken part in a Grand Prix in 33 years.

Kevin Magnussen qualified in 20th and last, and was also penalised for impeding another driver (Sergio Pérez) in qualifying. He will, however, be promoted to 18th on the grid after other drivers’ penalties are applied, starting between Hülkenberg and Hartley.