Hamilton dominates qualifying but Vettel joins him on the front row

2017 United States Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, heading all three stages as he took his 11th pole position of 2017.

However with his final lap of the session Sebastian Vettel joined his championship rival on the front row of the grid.


After their strong showing and in final practice Mercedes and Ferrari sent their drivers out for Q1 on the super-soft tyres. All four made it through, Hamilton leading the way, each saving themselves a set of the ultra-softs.

Behind them traffic was a problem for several drivers, above all Romain Grosjean, who had an alarming near-miss with Lance Stroll. The Haas driver took to the grass as he caught the Williams at speed.

Grosjean’s team mate Kevin Magnussen was on the receiving end of a complaint from a rival after he held up Sergio Perez. The stewards announced they would investigate both incidents, however both Magnussen and Stroll failed to make it into Q2.

The Williams driver reported a problem with his power unit after his final flying lap left him well down on team mate Felipe Massa. Brendon Hartley was also unable to join Daniil Kvayt in Q2 after locking up twice on his final run.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’36.842
17Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’36.868
18Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Renault1’36.889
19Pascal WehrleinSauber-Ferrari1’37.179
20Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’37.394


With a 15-place grid penalty awaiting him, Max Verstappen decided to start the race on super-soft tyres, which meant he had to run them in Q2. He comfortably set a quick enough time to reach Q3, ending the session in sixth behind his team mate and the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers.

Behind him the scrap to claim a place in the final ten went down to the last lap. Massa initially grabbed a Q3 spot but some of his rivals were yet to run. Carlos Sainz Jnr reached Q3 on his debut for Renault at Massa’s expense and Sergio Perez delivered the coup de grace, knocking the Williams driver out with his final lap.

There wasn’t much in it. Ocon, who ended the session in tenth, had only been a few thousandths of a second quicker than the Williams, but it was enough for both Force Indias to make it into the final 12 minutes of the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’35.155
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’35.529
13Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Honda1’35.641
14Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’35.870
15Nico HulkenbergRenault


Despite a brief de-rate at the exit of the final corner, Hamilton continued his domination of qualifying with his first run in Q3. A 1’33.108 left him almost half a second ahead of his closest rival, which was his team mate.

The Ferraris remained seven-tenths off the pace with their first efforts. Raikkonen was fractionally quicker than Vettel despite admitting he made “too many mistakes” on his run.

However the final runs for Mercedes did not go according to plan. Neither driver found any more time, while Vettel improved by half a second. That was enough for him to split the silver cars, putting him on the front row of the grid alongside his championship rival.

A strong final lap by Daniel Ricciardo lifted him ahead of Raikkonen for fourth place as the pair set identical times to within a thousandth of a second. Verstappen took sixth but Ocon will inherit that position after the Red Bull driver’s penalty.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’33.108
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’33.347
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’33.568
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’33.577
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’33.577
6Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’33.658
7Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’34.647
8Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’34.852
9Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’35.007
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’35.148

2017 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Hamilton dominates qualifying but Vettel joins him on the front row”

  1. @Jerejj 1.8 second improvement from last year. Benefit of hindsight but I had a feeling the 2.7-3.3 second improvement was always a bit optimistic on this type of track. Still, cars look absolutely mighty through sector 1!

    1. @ninjenius I’m very surprised that this type of circuit saw only a 1.8-second improvement on last season as it shares similar characteristics to the previous two and yet it still lost to both by a significant margin.

  2. CONSPIRACY: Did Ferrari send Raikkonen ahead of Lewis and Valterri to spoil their preparation laps? Throughout qualifying, Seb was sent out behind both Mercedes until his final ru. Kimi was ahead of Seb after the first q3 runs. You guys have your thoughts here

    1. You Go Shave-z
      21st October 2017, 23:14

      I think Ferrari they did just that

    2. Also, Kimi and Seb were always sent out behind them before that final run.

  3. Great job by Lewis but exceptional from Seb, didn’t expect the Ferrari to be that close. Another tasty prospect for tomorrow. Hopefully this time it won’t be tainted by unreliability.

    1. How are people still not seeing the Ferrari will always be in the hunt for pole ? I just don’t understand how some are still shocked when Vettel gets close to pole. He’ll probably have the pace to win tomorrow too ( as we’ve seen several times this year the Ferrari in race trim is quick )

      Looking at Bottas and Kimi they both put in 1:33.5’s so Vettel being .2 from Hamilton isn’t really shocking. The times show the cars are close,as they have done all season. It must be the previous Mercedes domination that’s warped people’s minds.

      1. Ferrari were 8 tenths off in Q1, 4 tenths off in Q2 and 7 tenths off after the first run of Q3. This season when Ferrari have been contenders for pole they’ve been much closer to Mercedes throughout Q1, Q2 and Q3, hence why in Q3 I didn’t expect Ferrari would end up just 2 tenths off. Never said I was shocked.

        1. They would’ve been further behind had Lewis not made a mistake in S3 on his last run. He was 1/100th up in S1 & 2/100th going into S3. He finished the lap 0.161 down on his first lap.

  4. In 2012 Vettel was miles clear on Friday then stayed in front on Saturday despite Hamilton’s challenge late in qualifying with Vettel’s team-mate Webber third. Time to take revenge tomorrow.

    1. Well the only problem is this season- in wheel to wheel- he is losing to Hamilton. I expect the same tomorrow. In fact- given the grid I expect Bottas to jump VET at the start because he is on the clean side. I remember Ferrari sabotaging Massa’s car just to ensure Alonso was on the clean side. That’s apparently how much of an advantage there is on the racing line.

      1. When was Seb wheel to wheel with Hamilton this year? Unless you’re counting Baku, but other than that they haven’t raced each-other wheel to wheel. Let’s hope that changes tomorrow. Great lap from Seb, gave it everything.

        1. So Spain & Spa doesn’t count?

        2. Belgium and Spain.

        3. Spain and Belgium- not been watching?

      2. Well the only problem is this season- in wheel to wheel- he is losing to Hamilton.

        Is he? Hamilton’s big advantage is the Mercedes engine, which allowed him to win battles like Spain and Belgium. Vettel actually overtook Hamilton on the brakes and around the outside in Bahrain, in a move that actually took skill.

        1. I think an excellent pole lap and great defensive skill also helped in Spa @kingshark

        2. So what Lewis did in Spain & Spa didn’t take skill? Oh please stop it

        3. Hamilton’s big advantage is the Mercedes engine

          By that logic, Vettel’s big advantage is the Ferrari race pace in high temps, which allowed him to win Bahrain in a move that actually didn’t take much skill given the the upper race pace differential the Ferrari enjoyed. Swings and roundabouts.

          Even in Baku- Hamilton had Vettel covered before the head rest issue.

        4. @kingshark I’ve given up talking to half of them, I’m advising you to do the same.

  5. Well the only problem is this season- in wheel to wheel- he is losing to Hamilton. I expect the same tomorrow. In fact- given the grid I expect Bottas to jump VET at the start because he is on the clean side. I remember Ferrari sabotaging Massa’s car just to ensure Alonso was on the clean side. That’s apparently how much of an advantage there is on the racing line.

  6. I think Hamilton would have won the title with Ferrari this year. He is the difference. Outstanding job by Ferrari to make a car this good after Merc specced the rules since 2014 but Hamilton has been the difference this year.

  7. So all you really need to do well here at COTA is brisket and whiskey cocktails??

    1. Yeah, if I was Austin this weekend the race, some brisket, and a drink would be my three priorities. Even better if you get into Austin for the bats and whatever weirdness suits you.

      Bonus if you see a roadrunner.

      1. @slotopen I am in Austin! At COTA had Brisket, excellent craft beer (better than the branded junk at a European Race) and am staying at the Hotel by the Bat Bridge – it seems Charlie Whiting is staying here along with the Renault and Force India teams.

  8. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    22nd October 2017, 0:44

    The eulogising over Hamilton’s qualifying is getting a bit disgusting from Sky. Vettel did this for 4 years against more than 1 team consistently in a less dominant car that didn’t have a magic mode.

    Actually when ever Vettel pulled out a blinding lap it’s was the car, but for Hamilton it’s always his pure ability and never the car.

    1. Mercedes is not a dominant car this year, so that’s why all the praise.
      But you know, you could complaint to sky, moaning here won’t change a thing.

      1. You’ve got to be kidding. Maybe not as dominant as the runaway last 3 Prior, but certainly in a league of their own still. It’s comments like this that make me shake my head. Blind leading the blind here

    2. Speaking about the UK coverage on BBC and Sky I remember everyone was waxing lyrical week and out about Vettel’s Red Bull qualifying performances, so apologies if you are referring to non UK coverage where your comment wouldn’t hold true.

      The ‘magic mode’ comment is unwarranted both Mercedes and Ferrari now have this mode. The view being Mercedes has roughly a 0.15 sec advantage over Ferrari, with Renault currently lacking reliability to be able to implement this feature in 2017.

      1. When Ferrari had the engine cover off on the grid and rivals got a good look they noticed no less than 3 different oil reservoirs, re implemented after they had to remove the one big extra one to comply with the regulations. They are doing exactly the same thing as Merc, in the side by side comparisons the Merc is pulling barely a couple of hundredths ahead on the straight compared to 2-3 10ths against the Renault.

        Hamilton is the difference and the petulant unsporting contingent of Vettel’s fanbase have just been doing a great impression of their hero these last few weeks, not going to make a blind bit of difference though so moan all you want.

        1. You’re a blind fool. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  9. What happened to hull’s car?

    1. Thanks auto correct! “Hulk”.

      1. 20 place grid penalty before the session started.
        They probably decided to sit out Q2 to eliminate any risk to the car as it was heading for the back row whatever they did.

        1. Thanks! I couldn’t find any info about it anywhere.

  10. Im looking forward to watching max battle his way through the midfield tomorrow. What’s the qualifying head to head now between him and RIC?

    1. 7-11 for Verstappen. RIC also had the issue in Australia though and I think somewhere else as well. Anyway, it’s pretty close. RIC is over a 80 points clear of Max in points though.

      Verstappen had the new engine here which is reported to be worth over .2s so for him to be outqualified by RIC by .1s is really a much more significant difference of .3s in the same car.

      1. @jeffreyj
        He broke down in quali at Silverstone too.

  11. Vettel’s lap was nothing short of sensational.
    If the Ferrari holds together tomorrow and he gets a good start,though I think Mercedes is quicker, it could be interesting.

    1. I agree both Hamilton and Vettel pretty much hit the peak performances of each car, with Hamilton edging it thanks to the extra oomph the Merc’s Q3 mode has over Ferrari’s Q3 mode.

      1. Personally, I think Alonso ragged that McLaren for his Q3 lap. That, for his many detractors, is why McLaren need to keep him, if only until 2019.

        1. +1 how quick is that package going to be next year

  12. This is Daniil Kvyat’s opportunity. He starts P11, fresh tyres and as close to the points as can be. Kvyat in the top 10 would really give him a confidence boost and make sure he gets a seat. Also Toro Rosso are heavily involved in a huge fight among Williams, themselves, Haas and Renault. Any points they can get would be great. With Sainz up there, the midfield battle is getting more and more feisty. Can McLaren get in there too?

    1. I think the gap to Hartley is too big. This doesn’t look good on Hartley at all imho. Regardless he’ll be starting last of course because of the penalty. Let’s see what he can do in traffic.

  13. I think vettel’s decision to change the chassis was a good one.i remember when senna wanted a new engine change in 93 when he already had a new one mounted recently because he believed he heard somenthing weird.everybody believed he was paranoid but when the wngine was inspected they found a small but potentially race ending problem.

  14. I miss Nico, the championship fight would be through the roof at this stage

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