The Drive at US F1 GP: Hamilton Earns Pole on His Way to Fifth World Title
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was only 0.006 seconds off Hamilton’s pace but will start fifth due to a grid penalty.
Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton edged out the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel to clinch the pole position for tomorrow's 2018 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton, who is on the verge of winning his fifth drivers' world championship, will have a relatively easier time given Vettel's three-spot grid penalty, which will demote him from second to fifth place.
The Drive was present in Austin, Texas, where the skies cleared up on time for three rounds of knockout qualifying to take place on a drying circuit after torrential downpours soaked it on Friday and Saturday morning. Once sunlight bathed the 3.4-mile circuit drivers took to the tarmac to put on the show that tens of thousands of fans from around the world flocked to the Lone Star State for. And despite COTA not having a reputation for on-track action, the race against the clock was as hot as anywhere else on the F1 calendar.
The Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen showed great pace throughout Q1 and Q2, oftentimes climbing to the top and trading blows with the Silver Arrows. However, as soon as the last minutes of Q2 rolled on, it was Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton who edged out the boys from Maranello—hardly a shocker for anyone who's followed the 2018 F1 season.
With Q3 ticking away, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Hamilton traded lap records and temporary pole positions, with the popular Brit ultimately stealing the first spot on the grid from Vettel by just 0.006 seconds, as in six-thousands of a second. Unfortunately, Vettel will see his second spot commandeered by his teammate Raikkonen after he was handed a three-spot grid penalty for failing to slow down enough for a red flag on Friday.
With Hamilton aching to run away at the start of the race in order cruise to a historic victory, it will be crucial for Raikkonen to make Hamilton's life difficult for the sake of Vettel's championship chances. And although highly unlikely, certainly not impossible.
Behind Hamilton and Raikkonen will be Bottas' Mercedes in third place, the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in fourth, Vettel in fifth, and Force India's Esteban Ocon in sixth. Max Verstappen will start 15th after damaging his Red Bull's suspension during Q2, and McLaren's Fernando Alonso will depart from the 16th spot.
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