One step away: Hamilton denies Ferrari challenge to take US F1 GP pole
Posted By: Editor   |  20 Oct 2018   |  11:55 pm GMT  |  144 comments

Lewis Hamilton took a big step in his attempts to wrap up a fifth world title at the Circuit of the Americas thus weekend by fending off the revived Ferraris to take his ninth pole position of the season.

In an intense qualifying battle in Austin, the Mercedes man edged ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, beating them both by less than one tenth of a second.

Vettel’s punishment is two-fold; not only does he miss out on the pole position bragging rights, he will start the race in fifth place after the application of a three-place grid penalty he picked up in practice.

He now must rely on team-mate Raikkonen – who is the only driver in the top five to start on the ultrasoft tyres – to disrupt the Mercedes at the start of the race.

“It’s was pretty close. It’s a shame when you miss out by such little time – I think six hundredths – you can always debate whether you had more in you, but I was pretty happy with the laps that I had,” said Vettel.

“I think it was quite tricky to get everything together. Obviously it’s been dry today and better for us, but the wind I think was quite tricky at times, but it was the same for everyone.

“I think given the last couple of weeks that we’ve had I think we’re back in range.”

Valtteri Bottas was three tenths behind in fourth, whilst Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was a distant fifth place. His team-mate, Max Verstappen, suffered from suspension problems and wound up fifteenth in the session.

Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon took sixth ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

Qualifying Session One

The Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas set the pace in Q1, followed by Vettel and Raikkonen.

The two Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen easily made it through to Q2, but the Dutchman sustained rear suspension damage over the kerbs, meaning he would take no further part in the session.

Despite having back-of-the-grid penalties this weekend, both Toro Rossos progressed, with Pierre Gasly going seventh quickest and Brendon Hartley’s lap in the dying moments putting the New Zealander through in fifteenth.

Eliminated at the first hurdle were McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the Williams duo of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Qualifying Session Two

As had been the case for many of the races this season, the top teams decided to send their cars out on the mid-range tyre, in order to start the race on a less degradable compound.

Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel and Ricciardo all completed laps – and progressed into Q3 – on the supersoft tyres, whilst Raikkonen set the fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tyres, giving Ferrari a split strategy for the race.

In a very tight battle in the midfield, Renault’s Carlos Sainz narrowly missed out on Q3 progression (by two 0.002 of a second!) to team-mate Nico Hulkenberg and was the first of the eliminated drivers.

Joining him early in the press pen were Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, along with three drivers who decided to/couldn’t set a time; Gasly, Hartley and Verstappen.

Qualifying Session Three


The final part of qualifying became the tense contest that everybody had hoped to see between Mercedes and Ferrari, and Hamilton dealt the first blow with a 1:32.567 to lead Vettel and Bottas by little over one tenth of a second.

Undeterred, Ferrari fought back, with Raikkonen briefly going fastest before Hamilton lowered the benchmark once again with a 1:32.237.

However, Vettel brought the challenge to Mercedes and set the fastest first sector. The pair were evenly matched in the second sector, but a better final sector for the Briton put Hamilton on pole position, beating his rival by just 0.061 of a second.

Raikkonen’s time was only nine thousandths slower than Vettel, whilst Bottas’ challenge fell away.

Ricciardo was some way off the pace, and Ocon took the ‘best of the rest’ accolade for Racing Point Force India, narrowly beating Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.237s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m32.298s 0.061s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m32.307s 0.070s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m32.616s 0.299s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m33.494s 1.257s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m34.145s 1.908s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m34.215s 1.978s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m34.250s 2.013s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m34.420s 2.183s
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m34.594s 2.357s
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m34.566s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m34.732s
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda No time
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda No time
15 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault No time
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m35.294s
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m35.362s
18 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m35.480s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.536s
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m35.735s

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think is going to win the United States Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Yes! Yes! YES!!!

Kimi wins!!

Seb lives to fight another day!

Best race of the season regardless of the result.

But what a great result.

Forza Ferrari.

Forza Kimi.

Forza Seb.

Forza Michael.

(Iknow, I’m repeating myself)


No Grid Girls but the USA GP gets cheer leaders!!


Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kimi wins!!

Seb lives to fight another day!

Best race of the season regardless of the result.

But what a great result.

Forza Ferrari.

Forza Kimi.

Forza Seb.

Forza Michael.


So the recent loss of pace in the Ferrari was because a “major” upgrade took them in a wrong direction. I would really not want to be the group that were heading up that upgrade development. That could not have happened at a worse time in the championship.


The FIA decided the race and championship on Saturday. It makes one wonder why they should even watch the race.


For those arguing mercedes has the superior package, I strongly suggest watching the side by side.
Ferrari still has their engine advantage and lewis snatched pole under braking. On the straights, they bleed lap time.

Once again the king pulls out another rabbit.


That’s a great clip. There is clearly a power advantage to Ferrari and an aero advantage to Merc based on their set ups for this track.
It’s hard to decipher the speed differential through the down hill roller coaster at the end of S1. Either the Ferrari had incredibly poor downforce or Seb just isn’t that good in the high speed corners. I recall that was where Webber was quicker in their RB days.
It appears that Seb also made a mistake in the traction zone of the last turn.


Good post Oblah – none of the AbH crowd will pay it the slightest heed, but a good post nonetheless.


No advantage under braking, just tiny mistakes by Vettel. Yes, the difference is due to Hamilton this time.


Just saw that in the leadup to the race … Seb ahead before the last corner, then Lewis got it at the very end.

Pirelli upping rear pressures to 21.5 psi, which no one has had any running with. I’m sorry but that should not happen at this level.


From Gazetta:

Mercedes Mole Buggered Up Ferrari Upgrades

A mole planted by Mercedes in the Ferrari garage has been systematically sabotaging all post Spa upgrades. This accounts for the loss of pace suffered by Ferrari in recent races, claims Ferrari.

According to a spokesman the mole has been identified and “neutralised”.

Ferrari declined to comment on reports that 18 Ferrari personel were dispatched with a bone saw to meet the unfortunate mole who has not been seen since entering the Scuderia garage a week ago.

Ferrari pace is now much improved.


Don’t give up the day job, unless of course trying to be funny is your day job…..


@Felipe Cristallo,

La Gazzetta della Cospirazione?!


Maybe they’ll say that he was accidentally killed in a fight, like that dissident Saudi journalist who ventured into that consulate in Turkey, never to emerge again.


Sighhhh… Fearing the outcome of the race, if only because it could trigger the inevitable tidal wave of nauseatingly home-erotic hyperbole by the LHFC…


@Redline…Just make sure that you never ever enter a British Consulate. Dissident comments like that will get you in the end!!!! The Hit Squad are lurking close by.


kenneth, you’ve been piggybacking on a lot of comments lately. You used a derivative of C63’s comments in a subsequent comment to another poster, etc. Now this with mine. Is everything ok lad?



I noticed that too – maybe it’s something in his subconsciousness 🙂


Redline, it’s always best to keep your eroticism at home….


Kimi keeps showing why he is still in F1 but just not consistent enough in challenging for the race wins (baring those occasions when ferrari messes it up for him). Nice pole by Ham.! Margins are just crazy. Seems Ferrari are back in the pace and that bodes well for next year. Actually looking forward to this race now.


Well, there’s some consistency … Kimi is the only driver to start each race within the top 6. Usually it’s been nearer P6 than P1, but still.


Nice pole for Lewis. As ever though, pole position just buys you 8 metres.

✔ Qualifying
❓ Start
❓ Opening laps
❓ Race pace
❓ Avoid contact from errant drivers
❓ Pit stops
❓ Race strategy
❓ Weather-related calls
❓ Reliability

Looks like it will be dry but not hot. 21°C.

Not sure why FOM was showing the Turn 9 track limits “misses” when they weren’t being policed.


Another afternoon where Hamilton himself made the difference to continue his brilliant season. Baring a disaster he will be crowned a worthy WDC this evening, and then we can have even more discussions about where this ranks him.


@ aveli

Oh no, the Queen is the Queen therefore the rules don’t apply to her majesty.


@ BK Flamer

Actually that is the reason why most British sportsmen and actors haven’t got honours because the majority aren’t role models e.g. footballers


…….and Hamilton


david, you mean Lewis Hamilton MBE?


@ C63

Aah no, I haven’t had the chance to watch the blackbird in action, heck, I would have loved to have seen the concord too even just on the tarmac.


@ Goferet The KLM 1st class lounge at New York airport was situated next to the Concorde Lounge and from the windows you could see the planes clearly. On one occasion, at night, i watched as the passengers boarded and then Concorde fired up. To see the flames emitting was quite something. The thing i recall most was the actual size…alongside 747’s they were tiny!!!!


alongside 747’s they were tiny!!!!

Have you ever been inside one kenneth? They feel even smaller on the inside.


However it seems a coronation could take place finally as Toto sticks to the script like never before


So the guy with two kids was 0.070s of the pace from this generations greatest

The horror


I know, just shows how much of a car advantage Ferrari have had all season.


@Chris D
0.379 looks significantly better than 0.009 against an aging, recently fired 39 year old. Seb’s reaction when told the gap, spoke volumes. 😀


Must be the car….. 🙂


Kimi is old but not obsolete. And STILL the Ferrari’s latest champion.


Phew, that was close! Good stuff from Lewis as always, Seb a hairs breadth away from pole, but obviously he has his penalty from Friday, so we will see what happens in the race, at least he has his wingman up front on the wrong tyres to try and help him…


Could be a good race, can see the line up of Kimi-Lewis-Valtteri-Seb after the first lap quite easily.


Recent races the Silver Arrows have managed to control their rear tyre over-heating issues which has given them an edge, here the track was only 21 deg C, so they had issues getting the rears up to temperature. Sunday is predicted to be warmer, so maybe the status quo will be restored and The Kimster will blister his Ultrasoft rears again?


It’s all set for a very interesting gp. If kimi jumps lewis, much can happen. Can’t wait.


hamilton drove that car faster than both raikkonen and vettel by 0.061s! while bottas trailed by 0.30s!

my question is, how did he manage that?

only the best driver in the history of the sport could manage such a feet!

their average times clearly puts that ferrari ahead by 0.29s yet he thrashed them!


Best car in history


david, the Ferrari is an excellent car, and clearly the class of this years field, but describing it as ‘the best car in history’ is too strong.


So, he turned the boost up Bob!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Farking grid penalties! There has to be a better system. We fans are the ones losing out by not being able to witness a probable epic start with Hamilton and Vettel in the front row.


@harvey bushell
Any ideas for a better system? Races are generally more entertaining when fast cars are out of sequence.


More fast cars?


Engine penalties are worse. Driver mistake – penalise the driver. Mechanical issues – penalise the team (e.g. constructor points) but not the driver.


Mike, so teams will make a calculation and put a new engine if they can afford to lose a few wcc points?


Maybe x% of their points so as to discourage this from the top teams? Plus the budget hit of the engine cost.


Mike, it’s a tough call, I don’t doubt that the FIA have looked at all possible methods, but there are downsides to each option.


Couldn’t agree more!

I’ve been saying the same for seasons.


I don’t think who wins will matter that much in the overall scheme of this years title challenge. If Sebastien gets the upper hand it will just drag out the championship which will be wonderful for Liberty Media and us fans. I think an interesting angle IMO is how Valtteri is able to run the Mercedes strategy and keep Sebastien behind him. If he fails and Sebastien gets past and threatens Lewis, I would not be surprised to see Esteban next to Lewis come 2019, with Toto (the tool) exercising the inevitable performance clause in Valtteri’s contract. Lets face it, when was the last time Toto described Valtteri as a future World Champion!


Yes – disappointing that BOT is not ahead of RAI either on ability or strategy (tyre choice). Maybe Merc missed a trick there.


bottas has a contract for 2019 with an option of extension.

russell stands to do to ocon what ocon did to wehrlein. russell sounds confident when he says he prefers ocon as his teammate. out of all the young drivers, to me, russel is the man. he says he has seen first hand how hard hamilton works the mercedes team and intends to do the same with the williams team. i like his vibe.


If Hamilton clears off and Seb has no chance of winning the WDC will he become wingman for Kimi and help him to reel in the 11 point deficit to Valerie for third place?


Go Lewis !

Here is the promotion I would like to see for F1 in the United States. Have a demonstration; line up a F1 car, a NASCAR and an Indy car. All current, state of the art models. Have a 1-lap race from a standing start. Give the NASCAR a 20-sec. headstart, and give the Indy car a 10-sec. headstart. The handicap could be different, as I haven’t thought that through. The point being, introduce Americans to the capabilities of F1. Could be all these forms of motorsport would get desirable publicity.


@Gene, attractive idea! But only if despite the handicaps the F1 car still wins. Americans only recognise winners. Maybe some rigging needed.


@Gene Herbert, that is a great idea!! Familiarizing the American public with the capabilities of an F1 car against a known quantity will do wonders for it’s appeal, especially against the established giants.

COTA would be an excellent venue as Indycar is set to race there in the future. HAAS could provide a Nascar.


Like it!

But why would NASCAR and Indy car countenance such a humiliation?


Hey Gene, that’s a great idea.

……..just like the one they’ve had in Melbourne for decades!

Pity Australia is so backward, eh.


We’ve had those shootouts here in Aust. for many years…nothing new here.


And how are you going to get NASCAR and IndyCar to agree to this public humiliation?


It’s a good idea, and we’ve seen similar demonstrations against other types of racing cars, but somehow I don’t think Liberty Media would be comfortable showing an F1 car humiliating an Indycar on track.


I don’t think Indycar would allow the comparison to be made, I’m sure there was a thing about the lap times being kept secret when the Indycars tested at Cota for the same reason.


good idea.


Good idea Gene

that would be very interesting to see.

Tornillo Amarillo

You know that car, the Merc, is really easy to drive sticking to the track, I don’t know what Bottas is doing, or Ham’s car has more party mode, I don’t know.
Anyway, Ocon 6th, he is putting himself in the best position for the near future…
And Max should have to start worrying about Leclerc in a Ferrari next year, they would be battling forever from next season and that will be difficult for Max, being Ham and Vet still around.


More like Max might be Jelly as there is no way Honda can make that much of a progress to fight for wins with Ferrari and Merc.


Lewis has 81 poles, bottas 6 and yet you’re questioning why he isn’t as fast? lol, grasping at straws are we?


Hamilton has had the best car for most of his career


Don’t be silly david. He’s only had the clearly best car from 2014-16, and considering how his car fared reliability-wise in 2016, you could take that year off as well. 2 years out of 12 … yeah, that’s most alright.

It’s not only about the car … Ricciardo stated as much recently:

‘Awesome’ Lewis Hamilton shows winning F1 titles is not just about the car – Daniel Ricciardo


why would a red bull be battling a ferrari next season? cannot see evidence of that happening.

Tornillo Amarillo

Sometimes Max is ahead of one Ferrari, next year with Leclerc will be more difficult IMO.


T A both cars are equal it’s the guy behind the wheel that gets more out of it.
Just think about what you say … That Trump statement is enough to start building walls for the “Grand Wizards of Hate” that post here.😆


Anyone but Hammy. Please! Pretty please!


you need at least 2 stars for that!


Keep sitting on that Cactus plant firmly and click your heels 3 times and say Ouch ouch ouch and dream on !


Yahoo (BTW)

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