Sebastian Vettel continues his dominance in Formula 1 with a front row lock-out for Red Bull Racing at the Circuit of the Americas.
The four-time world champion looked as though he would have to give best to his team-mate Mark Webber for most of the final segment of qualifying.
Webber was a tenth up on Vettel after their first Q3 run and the Australian improved further on his second run to take provisional pole thanks to a fresh set of Pirellis.
And yet Sebastian managed to take to the challenge and rise above. Fastest of all in the final sector, meaning he pipped Webber to pole position by just over a tenth of a second.
The Red Bulls were more than three quarters of a second quicker than Roman Grosjean, who put his Lotus ‘best-of-the-rest’ in third, narrowly ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez.
As for Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus substitute Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn qualified in eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez.
Bottas was the qualifying star in Austin, going fastest of all in Q1 and fourth in Q2, but he made a mistake on his crucial lap in Q3.
Last-gasp improvements in Q2 from Gutierrez and Kovalainen knocked Daniel Ricciardo out of the top ten shootout. The Toro Rosso driver will start P11 for the race, ahead of Paul di Resta.
McLaren’s Jenson Button missed the cut by less than two tenths and wound up P13. He will then drop three places on the grid thanks to a penalty for overtaking under red flags in practice.
Nico Rosberg wrestled an ill-handling Mercedes to P14, ahead of the similarly subdued Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.
Adrian Sutil’s poor qualifying run continued as he dropped out in Q1, along with Maldonado’s Williams, the Marussias and the Caterhams.
Caterham’s Giedo van de Garde just edged the battle of the backmarkers to qualify in P19, ahead of Jules Bianchi, Charles Pic and Max Chilton.
So another pole position for Sebastian Vettel. His 44th in the sport and number five front row lock-outs for the constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing this season. Can Sebastian win the race on Sunday? Bring on the action, State-side!
Qualifying times from Circuit of the Americas:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.338s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.441s
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.155s
4. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.296s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m37.345s
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.376s
7. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.452s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m37.715s
9. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.836s
10. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.034s
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.131s
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m38.139s
13. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.364s
14. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.592s
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.696s
16. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.217s*
17. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m39.250s
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m39.351s
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m40.491s
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.528s
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.401s
22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m40.596s**
107 per cent time: 1m44.668s
*Three-place penalty for failing to observe red flags in practice
**Five-place penalty for gearbox change