Red Bull’s Max Verstappen snatched pole position from title rival Lewis Hamilton with his final lap in qualifying at the US Grand Prix.
Hamilton had eclipsed Verstappen’s earlier pace-setting time with the world champion’s own final lap but the Dutchman leapfrogged back in front.
Verstappen beat Hamilton by 0.209 seconds after a gripping session.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took third. Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas was fourth but starts ninth after a grid penalty.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will replace the Finn on the second row, while his team-mate Carlos Sainz will start fifth ahead of the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
What a fight for pole
Red Bull appeared to be favourites for pole after Verstappen headed Hamilton in both of the first two sessions of qualifying.
Perez, on excellent form and pretty much a match for Verstappen for once all weekend, then set the pace on the first runs in the final session, ahead of Verstappen, Bottas and Hamilton.
The seven-time champion went out early for his final run and pulled out an excellent lap to leap ahead of the Red Bulls, but Verstappen proved too strong to reclaim the place on his final lap.
It was quite a show for a packed crowd of 120,000 at the Circuit of the Americas, basking in 30C temperatures, and a reversal of the form of recent races, in which Mercedes have had the fastest car, and a surprise as a result, especially as Mercedes had appeared so strong in Friday practice.
Hamilton said: “I gave it everything. It was a bit of a struggle though qualifying. From first practice onwards, we fell back a little bit, and those guys were incredibly quick in qualifying.
“I was happy with my last lap. That was pretty much as much as we had.”
Verstappen said: “In Q3, my first lap wasn’t amazing but in the final lap it starting spitting, like a little drizzle in the last sector especially, so [I was] not sure if I was going to hang onto my lap time but it was enough. P1 and P3 for the team was a strong performance.”
Perez had probably his most competitive showing of the year in what is effectively a second home race, as Austin sits a few hundred miles from the border of his home country and is well attended by Mexicans.
“We were really close on that final lap,” Perez said. “We did a great job as a team. Unfortunately, my final attempt was not as good throughout the lap. I improved through the lap but I wasn’t able to keep it.
“There were spots of rain and I lost a bit of grip in two corners and I could just see my [timing] delta going off.”
Drivers relaxed in the US by playing basketballMore than 140,000 people will watch the race on Sunday
Source by www.bbc.co.uk