Hamilton claims pole, Vettel grabs second
21 October 2017 – Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for the United States Grand Prix, ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel, building on a practice clean sweep with another new lap record at the Circuit of the Americas.
Mercedes driver Hamilton topped all three stages of qualifying, posting a 1:33.108 in Q3 to finish two-tenths clear of Ferrari man Vettel, whom he leads by 59 points in the standings.
Valtteri Bottas had to settle for third in the other Mercedes, dropping behind Vettel on the final runs, having initially backed up team-mate Hamilton.
Vettel's final lap marked a fine recovery, after Friday struggles led to him taking on a new chassis, as he bids to keep his championship hopes alive.
Hamilton will secure the title on Sunday if he wins and Vettel finishes no higher than sixth, or if he takes second, with Vettel no higher than ninth, and Bottas not winning.
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) posted identical lap times, but as Ricciardo's came first, he will start from fourth position.
Max Verstappen took a low-key sixth in the other Red Bull, and will drop towards the back of the grid as one of several drivers with a power unit-related penalty.
Force India's Esteban Ocon shone on his way to seventh, with Carlos Sainz Jr. also impressing in his first qualifying session aboard Renault to take eighth.
Fernando Alonso produced a brilliant Q2 lap to reach the final qualifying phase, where he claimed ninth, getting the better of Sergio Pérez (Force India).
Felipe Massa was the 'best of the rest' during final practice, but could not keep Williams inside the top 10 positions in qualifying, dropping out in Q2 in 11th.
On his return to Formula 1 action with Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat took 12th, followed by Stoffel Vandoorne, the next driver to be penalised for taking on new power unit elements.
Romain Grosjean had to take avoiding action in Q1, as a slow-moving Lance Stroll got in his way exiting Turn 19, but progressed to Q2, and qualified 14th.
Nico Hülkenberg ostensibly had the pace to follow new team-mate Sainz Jr. into Q3, but opted to save tyres for tomorrow's race, given his 15-place penalty.
Marcus Ericsson came close to giving Sauber its first Q2 appearance since Azerbaijan, lapping just seven-thousandths down on Grosjean in the first phase.
Stroll, under investigation by the stewards, encountered an engine issue and wound up 17th, followed by debutant Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), who will take a 20-place drop.
Pascal Wehrlein made a mistake at the penultimate corner en route to 19th, three spots behind team-mate Ericsson, with the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen bringing up the rear.
Magnussen is also under investigation after impeding Pérez on the entry to Turn 13, prompting the latter to shout: "What the f**k was he doing?!".
Sunday's 56-lap United States Grand Prix will begin at 14:00 local time