Austin Qualifying: Rosberg tops in shortened session

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Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took his 19th career pole position when he claimed top spot on the timing screens at the end of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, in wet and tricky conditions which forced officials to end proceedings after Q2.

In the aftermath of a very wet Friday, rain continued to fall relentlessly over Circuit of the Americas but it was deemed safe enough to unleash the field for qualifying at 09:00 am local time.

At this point Rosberg was fastest, with teammate Lewis Hamilton second best and thus setting the scene for another shootout between the pair.

Nico Rosberg said afterwards, “I’m very happy with that pole – especially as I did my quickest lap on used tyres. I wanted to be prepared for Q3 with a new set of full wets but, of course, that opportunity never came up as the rain increased suddenly and they had to abandon qualifying.”

“It was very tricky out there with a lot of water on the track, so let’s see what happens this afternoon with the weather. The car feels very strong and I’m feeling great around here in any conditions, so I really look forward to the race,” added Rosberg.

Qualifying Rosberg Hamilton Ricciardo

With a third title looming, Lewis Hamilton was equally upbeat, “It was a generally a good qualifying session for me. I was looking to go out again at the end but then the rain came down heavier and of course Q3 was cancelled altogether. Its was wetter at Turn 10 than everywhere else with loads of aquaplaning.”

“We could maybe have gone out and seen if the track would dry up a bit – but it was incredibly tricky out there and you need to be very sensible in such situations. You’re on tip-toes in these conditions and really you just have to try to keep going and bring the car round,” revealed Hamilton.

“I’m happy for the team to get the 1-2 and, as always, qualifying is just the beginning. The race will be long, long battle if the conditions stay like this,”added the reigning F1 world champion.

Behind the Silver Arrows pair Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat chased hard – the Red Bull duo ending the session third and fourth respectively and suggesting that the RB10 may well be capable of snatching a win. Ricciardo had topped the timing screens in Q1…

Fifth fastest was Sebastian Vettel who slammed the Armco with his Ferrari during Q1, but damage was limited and he was able to resume. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen was eighth.

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Next up, in fifth and sixth, were Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, the Force India looking pretty handy in the prevailing conditions.

Felipe Massa was ninth in the Williams, ahead of teenage rookie Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso. The Dutchman never having raced at the venue before was again impressive. His teammate Carlos Sainz crashed out early in the session.

Further illustrating how tricky things were out on track was the fact ten drivers spun in Turn 10 alone. Just before the start of Q3 the rain was harder and officials decided to curtail the session. Both the Mercedes cars were out of their pit boxes at this point and had to be pushed back.

Jenson Button who qualified his McLaren 14th summed up the situation before the session was halted, “Halfway through [Q2] it was way too wet. The problem is you don’t know where the aquaplaning is. The last couple of laps I was cruising around – I was floating. I hope the delay is for a good while because you can’t have them going out.”

Food for thought ahead of the race in Texas:

  • Rosberg has a third consecutive pole and Mercedes have a 12th front-row lockout of the season.
  • Rosberg has converted two of his last nine poles into wins.
  • Hamilton’s two previous victories in Austin came from second on the grid.
United States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americas – Qualifying Result
Pos. No. Driver Team Q1 Q2 Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:56.671 1:56.824 5
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:56.871 1:56.929 5
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:56.495 1:57.969 6
4 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:57.640 1:58.434 6
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 2:00.950 1:58.596 7
6 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:59.284 1:59.210 6
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:58.325 1:59.333 6
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:58.198 1:59.703 5
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams 2:00.902 1:59.999 7
10 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:58.689 2:00.199 7
11 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:59.704 2:00.265 16
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:59.569 2:00.334 16
13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 2:00.236 2:00.595 17
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren 2:00.261 2:01.193 16
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2:00.844 2:01.604 17
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2:02.212 9
17 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 2:03.194 9
18 53 Alexander Rossi Marussia 2:04.176 9
19 28 Will Stevens Marussia 2:04.526 9
Nc 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 2:07.304 3

Note – Q3 was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. Vettel and Raikkonen penalised 10 grid places, and Stevens 20 places, for unscheduled power unit component changes. Sainz failed to set a time within the Q1 107 percent requirement – races at the stewards’ discretion.