Valtteri Bottas achieved his eleventh career pole position and ended Ferrari’s run to the top grid slot by beating Sebastian Vettel and out-qualfying Lewis Hamilton by a significant margin.
The Mercedes driver grabbed the team’s first pole after the summer break after beating Vettel by 0.012 seconds.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third ahead of Charles Leclerc. The top four were covered by a tenth of a second.
World champion in waiting Lewis Hamilton could only settle for fifth position after aborting his second run in Q3. The championship leader seemed to be struggling for pace and starting P5 is not ideal in terms of winning title number six. However, he just needs to secure an eighth position to win the championship.
Alex Albon was sixth in the Red Bull, 0.519 seconds off the pace. He will start the race on the soft Pirelli compound compared to his teammate.
Carlos Sainz benefited from having two sets of fresh softs in Q3 thanks to completing only one run in Q1 to secure midfield honours in seventh position with a lap just three tenths slower than Albon.
Sainz’s McLaren teammate, Lando Norris, also earned a place on the fourth row in eighth, almost three-and-a-half tenths slower.
Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, who completed his sole Q3 run on a clear track before the final flurry, was ninth fastest, 1.459 seconds off the pace, and just over a tenth faster than Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.
The Ferrari and Mercedes drivers will start on mediums having used that tyre compound for their Q2 time, along with Verstappen – with the rest of the top ten using softs.
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was quickest of those knocked out in P11 after lapping one tenth slower than Gasly.
He briefly climbed into the top ten as he finished his final lap, only to be knocked down a place by teammate Ricciardo.
Kevin Magnussen was P12 for Haas having failed to improve on his second run, ending up 0.010 seconds quicker than Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat – who had a time that originally put him P11 deleted by going over the track limit.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was P14, just over half a tenth quicker than Romain Grosjean’s Haas.
Alfa Romeo duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were both eliminated in Q1 in P16 and P17 respectively.
The pair were both in the drop zone after the first runs, with last year’s winner Raikkonen briefly climbing to P15 ahead of Gasly before Giovinazzi leaped ahead thanks to his stronger pace in the middle sector.
But Gasly then posted a time good enough to shuffle both back into the bottom five, where they ended the session well clear of the lead Williams of George Russell.
Racing Point driver Sergio Perez must start from the pits thanks to missing the weighbridge in practice two, so completed only one run and was P19.
That put him less than a tenth faster than the second Williams of Robert Kubica.
So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas in scoring pole position. This was important grid position for the sake of the championship. Can his Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton fight back in the race? Bring on the race at the awesome Circuit of the Americas.
United States Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 01:32.029
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 01:32.041
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 01:32.096
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 01:32.137
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:32.321
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 01:32.548
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 01:32.847
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 01:33.175
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 01:33.488
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 01:33.601
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 01:33.815
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 01:33.979
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 01:33.989
14 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 01:34.100
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 01:34.158
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:34.226
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 01:34.369
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 01:35.372
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 01:35.889
20 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 01:35.808