Lewis Hamilton achieved his 72nd Formula 1 pole position with a masterclass performance in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was fastest in all three segments of qualifying, ending up 0.239 seconds clear of title rival Sebastian Vettel.
This was despite a poor final sector from Hamilton’s second Q3 run preventing him from improving, meaning the one minute, 33.108 seconds he set on his first attempt was good enough for pole.
Vettel was only fourth on the first runs in Q3, but he recovered with a strong second lap to jump ahead 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 lap time before Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, the duo setting identical marks of one minute, 33.577 seconds.
Max Verstappen, who has a 15-place grid penalty, was sixth quickest and is the only driver from the top ten in qualifying who will start on super-softs rather than ultra-softs having used the slower Pirelli compound to set his Q2 time.
Esteban Ocon was seventh fastest, a second off Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz Jr completed only one run in Q3 thanks to only having one set of fresh ultra-softs, ending up eighth.
Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez – who only had used tyres for his first Q3 run – rounded out the top ten.
Felipe Massa was eliminated in Q2 after a late improvement from Perez, missing out by less than half-a-tenth and ending up P11.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was P12 ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who has a five-place grid penalty thanks to the upgraded Honda power unit that was introduced at the start of the US GP weekend, and Romain Grosjean.
Nico Hulkenberg ended qualifying P15 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 race 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 near the end of the lap.
Toro Rosso debutant Brendon Hartley, who has a 25-place grid penalty, was P18 having briefly lifted himself out of the dropzone early in the final-run flurry before being shuffled back.
The New Zealander was ultimately only 0.054 seconds off a place in Q2, having lapped eighth-tenths slower than team-mate Kvyat’s Q1 time.
Pascal Wehrlein was P19 for Sauber, with Kevin Magnussen slowest for Haas.
Magnussen is also being investigated by stewards for impeding Perez through Turns 13/14.
So a commanding performance by Lewis Hamilton. Quickest in all the practice sessions,
Congratulations Hamilton on setting a new track records, his 72nd pole in the sport and his 117 front row. Impressive set of achievements.
Qualifying positions, United States Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.108s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.347s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m33.568s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m33.577s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m33.577s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m34.647s
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m34.852s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m35.007s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m35.148s
10 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m35.155s
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m35.529s
12 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m35.870s
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.842s
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m36.868s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1m35.641s
16 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.179s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m37.394s
18 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m33.658s
19 Nico Hulkenberg Renault – –
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Renault 1m36.889s