Verstappen takes pole position in Austin ahead of Hamilton, Pérez

Bottas will be 9th on the grid

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By Olivier Ferret

24 October 2021 - 00:11
Verstappen takes pole position in (...)

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took his ninth pole position of the year at the Circuit of the Americas beating title rival Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two tenths of a second as Sergio Pérez claimed third place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix for Red Bull.

In Q1, Verstappen led the way early on with an opening flying lap of 1:34.521 with Pérez slotting into second place just five hundredths of a second behind. They were edged out of the top two places by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo but on their second runs the Red Bull drivers re-established supremacy, with Verstappen taking P1 with a lap of 1:34.352 and Pérez making his way to second just 0.017s behind.

However, in the final moments of the session Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc put in a good lap of 1:34.153 to shuffle the Red Bull pair back, while Ricciardo progressed in P4 ahead of team-mate Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas went through in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Eliminated at the end of the first session were Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in 16th place ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

In Q2, on medium tyres, Verstappen powered to the top of the order with his first flying lap – 0.333s ahead of Hamilton and McLaren’s Lando Norris – but Pérez’s opening push lap was deleted, as he fell foul of track limits at Turn 19.

After the first runs Pérez sat in 11th place and in the drop zone at the head of a squad of drivers who had either had times deleted or who had chosen to sit out the first runs due to tyre strategy. But after bolting on another set of mediums, Pérez used his second run to make his way to seventh place and safety with a lap of 1:34.178.

The man in danger then was McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo who had also exceeded track limits on his first run. The Australian made no mistake on his set attempt and he jumped from P12 to P9 with a lap of 1:34.643.

That pushed AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda into the drop zone in P11 but the Japanese rookie put in a good lap of 1:35.137 to clamber back to 10th place and edge out Alpine’s Esteban Ocon by two tenths of a second.

In the final top-10 shoot-out it was Pérez who made the biggest statement of intent with a superb lap of 1:33.180 that put him on provisional pole, almost two hundredths of a second ahead of Verstappen, with Bottas third ahead of Hamilton.

The Mercedes pair were at the head of the queue for the final runs and when Hamilton crossed the line at the end of his final flyer he jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:33.119.

Behind him Bottas failed to improve but the Bulls were just starting their final flyers. Verstappen went purple through the first sector and then powered a sequence of personal bests in the mini-sectors of the middle part of the track. And when he crossed the line it was a convincing 0.209s clear of Hamilton and his ninth pole of the year was sealed.

Pérez almost joined his team-mate on the front row but the Mexican missed out to Hamilton by the tiny margin of 0.013s. The Mexican did beat Valtteri Bottas, however, to put the Team in a strong position for the race as the Finnish Mercedes driver is set to take a five-place engine-related grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.

Behind the top four, Charles Leclerc qualified fifth for Ferrari ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, while McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finished seventh and eighth. The top 10 was completed by the AlphaTauri pairing of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:34.352 1:33.464 1:32.910
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:34.579 1:33.797 1:33.119
03 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:34.369 1:34.178 1:33.134
04 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:34.590 1:33.959 1:33.475
05 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:34.153 1:33.928 1:33.606
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:34.558 1:34.126 1:33.792
07 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:34.407 1:34.643 1:33.808
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:34.551 1:33.880 1:33.887
09 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:34.567 1:34.583 1:34.118
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:35.360 1:35.137 1:34.918
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:35.747 1:35.377
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:35.281 1:35.500
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:35.920 1:35.794
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:35.756 1:44.549
15 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:35.746 -:—.---
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:35.983
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:35.995
18 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:36.311
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:36.499
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:36.796

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