Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Circuit of the Americas, 2014

Flying Rosberg denies Hamilton pole position

2014 United States Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Circuit of the Americas, 2014Lewis Hamilton held sway in practice but when the crunch came in qualifying Nico Rosberg beat his team mate to claim pole position at the Circuit of the Americas.


With Marussia and Caterham absent from this weekend’s race, Q1 and Q2 were altered so that just four cars were eliminated in each stage, leaving the usual top ten shoot-out in Q3.

Hamilton set the pace in the first part of qualifying but appeared to have compromised his effort when a lock-up on his medium tyres led him to switch to the softer compound. However his team mate also used a pair of softs to ensure he gained a place in Q2.

The pair were separated by the two Williams drivers at the end of Q1, while drivers from four different teams failed to make the cut.

Among them was Sebastian Vettel, who came within four-tenths of a second of making it into Q2 with his single run. His qualifying position was irrelevant anyway, as his power unit change means he will start from the pits.

Only Romain Grosjean failed to beat his time, the Lotus driver running wide in turn 12. Jean-Eric Vergne failed to make the cut by just five-hundredths of a second, while Esteban Gutierrez was almost seven tenths of a second slower than his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’39.250
16Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’39.555
17Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’39.621
18Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’39.679


Hamilton continued to struggle with his braking problem in Q2. He locked up another set of tyres and this threatened to be a more serious problem, as he would start the race on his set from Q2. It also meant Rosberg beat him to the fastest time.

Despite having done that, Rosberg took another run at the end of the session and put in a blistering lap which left him almost a full second ahead of Hamilton – a clear statement of intent ahead of the top ten shoot-out.

An inspired Adrian Sutil got his Sauber up to ninth with his last run, and although Kimi Raikkonen bumped him down to tenth Sutil hung on to claim his and his team’s first appearance in Q1 this year.

It came at the expense of Pastor Maldonado, who made an error on his last run, the closely-matched Force Indias and Daniil Kvyat. However the latter will be relegated to last place due to his ten-place penalty.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’38.467
12Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’38.554
13Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’38.598
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’38.699


Rosberg was only able to trim eight thousandths of a second off his Q2 time with his first run in Q3. It was enough to keep him ahead of Hamilton, however, who was fractionally slower in each of the three sectors.

Over their final runs Rosberg sustained his momentum, continuing to edge further clear of his team mate. Only in the final sector did the pendulum swing Hamilton’s way, but by then it was far too late – Rosberg took pole position by over three-tenths of a second.

The Williams pair held onto the second row of the grid but the two McLaren drivers, who had occupied the third row after their initial runs, slipped back. Jenson Button suspected the changing track conditions produced increased understeer in car, and although he beat Magnussen to seventh he will take a five-place penalty.

Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of their struggles, moving up to fifth ahead of Alonso.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’36.067
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.443
3Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’36.906
4Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’37.205
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’37.244
6Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’37.610
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’37.655
8Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’37.706
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’37.804
10Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’38.810

2014 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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44 comments on “Flying Rosberg denies Hamilton pole position”

  1. I think Rosberg is the more consistently immense qualifier, but a happy Hamilton is unquestionably fastest racing driver in the world in my opinion at least. The remarkable level that Hamilton operates on during a qualifying lap is difficult to sustain when the car is marginally different every time you drive it, so yes, Rosberg is the better qualifier, but Hamilton is the faster.

    1. @william-brierty
      I’m not buying this whole “happy” excuse for Hamilton. Why is it, that whenever Lewis beats Nico over one lap, it’s just on pure merit; but when Nico beats Lewis in qualifying, it’s because Lewis’s “head wasn’t in the right place”, or some excuse like that? Was Nico not “happy” or “in the right place” when Lewis beat him in Monza, Singapore, and Russia?

      Today, Hamilton was slower than Rosberg, plain and simple.

      1. But most of us still expect Lewis to be faster tomorrow. That why he said: “Rosberg is the better qualifier, but Hamilton is the faster.”

        Let’s see tomorrow :)

      2. Indeed. Nico was faster today. Period.

      3. Ignoring the brakes problem Lewis had in Q2 and Q3, yes.

        1. @supremacy yes, it did play a part because Lewis was struggling with brakes temperatures.

      4. @kingshark – You have completely misunderstood me. I am just saying that Lewis at his absolute best in qualifying trim is marginally better than Nico at his best, an assertion I think most would agree with, but this year Rosberg has optimized the qualifying opportunities more consistently than Hamilton making him the better qualifier. But qualifying is a very specific challenge, and Rosberg has scarcely ever been faster in race trim, and it is Lewis’ ability to perform in a broader variety of circumstances that makes me think he is the faster.

        1. @william-brierty
          I agree with most of what you wrote.

          There have been few instances this season where, perhaps, Nico was faster than Lewis on race trim. Bahrain, Spain, and Belgium spring to the mind. But he didn’t win these races because of one reason or another, usually to do with his below-average racecraft.

          1. @kingshark – My only response to that would be that Lewis’ Belgian FP2 long run was faster than Nico’s.

          2. It’s worth remembering that Hamilton’s Bahrain strategy was ruined by the safety car. Had it not been for that, it’s hard to see Rosberg getting very at the end. And Belgium was tainted for Hamilton too early on the allow comparisons.

    2. Don’t make judgement yet. As far as qualifying is considered Rosberg has Hamilton beaten at 9-7 but come raceday it is 9-4 in Hamilton’s favour.

      Remember Hamilton always has better race pace that Rosberg.
      Rosberg won in Australia where Hamilton retired.
      Rosberg won in Germany where Hamilton had qualifying mechanical issues.
      Rosberg won in Monaco where overtaking is impossible.
      Only at Austria he beat Hamilton fair and square.

      Thankfully remember last 3 races are at track where overtaking is possible.

  2. Lewis from behind makes the race a bit more interesting.

    1. It’s not just Lewis, even Bottas / Williams from behind who are generally better starters

      1. Williams have strategy to finish 3-4. Even if they get past they are less aggressive in defending that place like we saw at Austria

  3. I’m really happy about this. Now there’s a better chance of the start being clean tomorrow since Rosberg won’t be the one trying to sneak into turn 1. I’m expecting a fight between them akin to Suzuka, so it should be pretty interesting! I love this circuit.

  4. Today the pole time was 3 tenths faster than it was in 2013, and only 4 tenths slower than it was in 2012.

    Considering what a technical circuit Austin is (20 corners, lots of direction change) the amount of recovered downforce is mighty impressive.

    1. @kingshark last year they used mediums, not softs, though.

      1. @fer-no65 I think @kingshark is right: The tyres may have been rated as “harder” last year, but the word from the paddock and all the drivers, teams and even Pirelli themselves is that the tyres are harder this year so a soft from this year is ~ equivalent to a medium from last year.

        So I think the comparison is pretty close.

        1. No they feel harder because of lack of grip this year. In fact its other way round, they have been made more grippier this year to combat loss of downforce

          1. The tyres are all one step harder than last year. They made them that way because they thought the torque would make the tyres have a hard time lasting if they used last years formula

  5. Great job by Rosberg. I hope that he wins tomorrow and decreases the points gap between himself and Hamilton as I do not want the double points rule to have any impact on the excitement at Abu Dhabi.

    I also hope that Sutil scores at least two points tomorrow. I do not think that Marussia can be raised from the dead but Sauber is still alive and needs the 9th place in the championship to survive.

  6. Happy for Sutil though. I wouldn’t mind him holding onto his position tomorrow … but not better than that! I want to see Marussia on the grid next year!

  7. So who would have won the ‘FIA pole award’ if both Mercedes drivers get 9 each?

    1. Hamilton because he will have qualified second more often – mostly because the Red Bulls took second on the grid in 3 of the first 4 races ahead of Rosberg.

      1. Interesting…. Thanks.

  8. In the onboard lap, Lewis locked up 3 times, I hope it is fine tomorrow

  9. What a performance from Rosberg! After FP3 I thought Lewis would have a couple of tenths in hand, but Nico pulled something special out of the bag for qualifying and grabbed that pole position.
    Lewis just couldn’t find that extra speed like Nico did.

    Surprisingly Bottas was the faster of the two Williams drivers. Massa looked very quick, after Q2 I thought he would have the upper hand. But he screwed up his Q3 runs and was just a fraction ahead of Ricciardo.

    Ricciardo did a very good job. Just 0.039 behind Massa and over 0.3 sec ahead of the Ferraris and the McLarens.
    I expected Alonso to match Ricciardo’s time, but in the end his Ferrari just wasn’t quick enough. Also Fernando doesn’t like this circuit so much, he never performed that well here.
    The McLarens are about the same as they were in Sochi.
    Kimi did quite well in Q3. Just under 0.2 sec behind Fernando isn’t that bad, considering he doesn’t feel comfortable in the car yet.

    A Sauber in Q3? Seems like a dream, but Sutil made it come true. By far his best performance of the season. Seems like Sauber and Lotus found a lot of speed since the last race. Even Maldonado could’ve made it through to Q3, but he lost time correcting the car at he exit of Turn 1 on his final Q2 run.
    Force India looks to be struggling this weekend, at least on a single lap. Their race pace doesn’t look that bad, maybe they’ll try a 1-stop-strategy.
    The situation at Toro Rosso looks similar. Vergne out in Q1 and Kvyat without no chance to reach Q3.
    They could end up at the back of the field tomorrow.

    1. “Kimi did quite well in Q3. Just under 0.2 sec behind Fernando isn’t that bad, considering he doesn’t feel comfortable in the car yet.”

      This is getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? Doesn’t feel comfortable YET? When is he going to? It could have been an excuse in the first couple of races, but the season is almost over, and he still didn’t manage to wrap his head around the handling of the car?

      Well, maybe you are right, but that pretty much means that he isn’t that much of a driver, as his fans are making him out to be.

      This season has proved that he is one more in the Vettel & Button camp. Can be very fast when the car suits them, but as soon as something doesn’t go their way, it becomes absolutely clear that they are not really one of “those” champions.
      I don’t remember seeing Alonso or Hamilton ever looking just ordinary. You can always count on them producing a drive worthy of a champion.

      1. “…don’t remember seeing Alonso or Hamilton ever looking just ordinary…”

        Clearly you never saw the first half of 2009 – the ONLY time Hamilton has EVER driven a bad car.

        But you’re right, he didn’t look ordinary, he looked down right pathetic.

      2. Of course you are right. Kimi isn’t in the league of Fernando and Lewis. Doesn’t matter what you give them to drive, they will be fast. Imo they are the only drivers on the current grid with this ability.
        Kimi just couldn’t adapt his driving style to the car (he loses a lot of time in braking areas). Maybe he could’ve solved the problem by now, but Kimi is Kimi. Sometimes he just doesn’t seem to care.
        But still, I wouldn’t say that he is like Vettel or Button. He is somewhere between them and ALO&HAM, because he doesn’t need a superior car to win races. He just needs a car that suits his driving style.
        Also you have to keep in mind, that Kimi had technical issues nearly every race weekend this season. That didn’t help him improving his performance for sure.
        Although it was a very disappointing season for Kimi, I wouldn’t write him off for next season. He definately has the ability to solve his issues with the car and to be very quick, as does the team.

        1. Being a Kimi fan this season has been very painful to watch. I am a Finn so thank god Bottas is doing well. Not only has kimi been slow on qualifying but race performance has been pretty grim also. Let us not forget that had kimi not skipped few races last season he most likely would have breaked the record for most overtakes in season. Kimi often did very spectacular overtakes in unusual places also being very entertaining driver to watch. This season he has usually been in “try to survive” mode in races.
          I am not sure how Alonso likes his car setup to be but surely he can handle understeery car better than Kimi who absolutely needs precision control of front end. I bet it is easier to set up a oversteery car to understeer than vice versa especially now when they have lost a lot of downforce+increased car weight. It seems also that Vettel has somewhat similar issues.
          Now the scary part is that it is possible that with these new regulations it is impossible to set up these machines like kimi and maybe even vettel would prefer rendering their usual driving style obsolete.

  10. With equal problem-free cars, Hamilton has proven the faster of the two the majority of the time.

  11. Hope Lewis’ brakes problem is sorted for the race.

  12. Its so strange to me that Rosberg can handle the pressure of qualifying so well and put in such fantastic laps. Out-qualifying Hamilton by almost 4 tenths is something mighty! By the same token I think Rosberg’s qualifying performances have put paid to the idea that Hamilton is the best qualifier in F1 at the moment. He’s fast but there are many that can claim to be as fast in my mind.

    It’s a pity this will all be for naught tomorrow as I fully expect Lewis to win. Rosberg has yet to show me that in a straight fight he can deal with constant pressure from Hamilton behind him. In contrast to qualifying Rosberg doesn’t appear to be able to be mentally tough enough to race Hamilton. We saw it in Bahrain, we saw it in Italy, in Japan and Russia. As much as Hamilton is to be credited for his wins criticism has to be given to Rosberg for failing to challenge Hamilton or making mistakes while leading.

    1. @colossal-squid – But being fast is not just about qualifying. Rosberg has scarcely ever been faster in race trim, and it is Lewis’ ability to perform in a broader variety of circumstances that makes me think he is the faster.

      1. @william-briberty

        I guess it depends on your definition of ‘fast’. To me fast in qualifying is all about maximum speed over one lap in a light car on new tyres. As close to the theoretical limit of the car’s maximum around a given track.

        Like you said, and I completely agree, Rosberg is scarcely faster than Hamilton in the race. That to me means Lewis is better at juggling all the different things a race demands: consistency, tyre preservation, strategy, overtaking as well as managing the psychological pressure racing for a win brings. Hamilton can go for it in any weather whereas Rosberg seems to crumble. Italy and Japan both show this.

        I guess I’m saying in a long-winded way it’s a different kind of fast. To me it’s the same way Alonso isn’t seen as the quickest in qualifying but he’s ‘fast’ in a race.

        1. Sorry, meant @william-brierty (damn autocorrect!).

        2. @colossal-squid – My definition of fast is simply the numbers you get on the timing screen at all parts of weekend, on all fuel-loads and in all conditions. In that regard I would rate Hamilton and Alonso as the fastest drivers of the season, however Rosberg unquestionably excels in the outlying scenario that is qualifying, which is where being fast most explicitly aids your weekend.

          I say outlying with reference to the fact that it is the only competitive running they do on fumes with fresh tyres, so whilst Alonso rarely flatters his equipment in qualifying he tends to be astounding in the race, and by the same token Rosberg has converted just two of his eight pole positions (not including Austin) to victories this year, which perhaps accurately casts a persona of specialism onto a “qualifying driver”. So Rosberg’s low-fuel affinity can make him look the hero on a Saturday, with particular reference to his first ever pole position in China: perhaps the most beautifully executed lap I’ve seen in thirty years of following F1, but the versatility needed if you subscribe to my definition of a fast driver should yield more points over a season.

          With that in mind, I think Nico’s hope of keeping Lewis behind on a track so conducive to overtaking are slender. Even if Rosberg can survive the first stint his opening laps on the prime tyre, where at Silverstone and Monza he was approaching a second slower than Lewis, are critical to his title hopes. I smell a Bahrain…

  13. Even though I am not a Rosberg fan, I can’t take anything away from his qualifying. Great lap. Hopefully, Lewis will sort his brakes out and have a fair fight with Nico tomorrow.

  14. I accidentally taped NBC channel for Qualifying this afternoon and I can only express how sorry I feel for my American friends.

  15. I think Hamilton will win on this race.

  16. I think Lewis had already stated his intentions ,he didn’t seem to mind being 2nd just like in Spa… And look what happened there .I think he prefers to hunt rather than to be hunted. So gonna look forward to Nico being pressured to finding that extra time in his pocket, cause hes going to need it .

  17. Have to pretty much agree. I smell a DRS pass by LH on NR and that will be it. Hope I’m wrong but history this season says otherwise. Would love to see NR stamp his authority today like he did yesterday, and I think he could really use that strictly from a psychological standpoint and forgetting about the points for a second. So it’s going to be fun seeing if NR can start to reverse the trend, not just for these last 3 races, but to settle himself into a good frame of mind for the off-season and for 2015.

    Not sure I’m ready to give LH fastest driver in the world…thought the general consensus was that was FA…and I have to wonder how LH would be doing if it was FA in NR’s car, psychologically speaking particularly, but at a minimum NR is not making it a cakewalk for LH, which says a lot for someone who is only in his first year experiencing a battle for the WDC. NR may be no LH, but he’s also no Webber or Massa.

    1. Rosberg made mince meat of Schumacher so he’s no slouch.

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