Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Bottas beats Vettel by a hundredth to take Mercedes’ first pole since Germany

2019 United States Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas took pole position for the United States Grand Prix while team mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton could only manage fifth.

The Mercedes pair were competitive throughout the qualifying session, but in a closely-fought Q3 the two silver cars were separated by two Ferraris and a Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel came within 0.012 seconds of extending Ferrari’s run of pole positions, and Max Verstappen was also less than a tenth of a second away from taking pole position.

Q1

Hamilton led the way after the first runs in Q1 but was concerned about the fractional amount of time he lost to his team mate in the middle of the lap. Bottas, third, was just a hundredth of a second quicker than Hamilton there. The pair were separated by Verstappen, who was just a tenth of a second slower than Hamilton.

The track was improving throughout the session, however, and with his final run Lando Norris surprisingly leapt to the top of the times with a 1’33.353.

Pierre Gasly also made a significant late improvement, and he needed it, vaulting from 17th to fourth place. That pushed Antonio Giovinazzi into the drop zone along with his Alfa Romeo team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Williams pair failed to progress as usual. George Russell took advantage of the opportunity to get ahead of Sergio Perez, though the Racing Point driver will start from the pit lane anyway following his penalty for missing the weigh bridge. His team mate Lance Stroll comfortably made it into Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’34.226
17Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’34.369
18George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’35.372
19Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’35.808
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’35.889

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Q2

Mercedes and Ferrari favoured the medium tyres for the start of the race, and selected it to qualify on in Q2. So did Verstappen, and the five were covered by just 0.153 seconds after their runs, Hamilton the quickest of the lot. Alexander Albon set the best time of all, but he opted to run the softs, which put him 0.147s ahead of Hamilton.

Kevin Magnussen was narrowly inside the top 10 after the first runs, leading Daniil Kvyat by just a hundredth of a second, with Daniel Ricciardo close behind. He wasn’t able to improve with his final run, and lost out to several of his rivals.

Nico Hulkenberg beat his time, as did Kvyat, though the Toro Rosso driver had his lap time deleted for running wide at turn 19. He had also been involved in a confusing incident before he started his lap when both Hamilton and Verstappen tried to pass him, and Verstappen had to go off the circuit.

Gasly made it through to Q3 irrespective of Kvyat’s lap time deletion, even though he aborted his final lap after a poor first sector. Ricciardo joined him in the final 10 but Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the cut, ending up two-tenths off his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Nico HulkenbergRenault1’33.815
12Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’33.979
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’33.989
14Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’34.100
15Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’34.158

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Q3

Hamilton was the first of the front-runners to set a lap in Q3, and it wasn’t his best. He was slightly hesitant turning the W10 into the first corner, and around the rest of the lap he seemed not as sharp as usual. A succession of rivals relegated him down the order.

“How much am I down?” he asked. “Currently fifth, Valtteri P1, three tenths ahead,” he was advised. The pair were also separated by the two Ferraris – Vettel just a hundredth of Bottas, who in turn has Verstappen between them. Alexander Albon slotted in fifth ahead of the McLarens and Gasly, whose car was destabilised by a strong gust of wind on his lap.

The scene was set for a fine scrap for pole position – but it failed to materialise. None of the front-running drivers improved their positions, and only Verstappen and Leclerc set quicker times. Verstappen’s effort, despite a lock-up at the first corner, left him less than seven-hundredths of a second off Bottas in pole position.

Vettel was just a hundredth of a second away from beating Bottas to pole. “I lost a bit on turn one and then maybe tried a bit too hard in the middle section,” he told his team on the radio. “I asked a bit too much from the rear.”

Hamilton had to settle for fifth on the grid behind Leclerc, and alongside Albon, whose final lap time was deleted for a track limits violation. The McLaren pair claimed the fourth row, Sainz comfortably ahead of Norris, and followed by Ricciardo and Gasly.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’32.029
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’32.041
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’32.096
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’32.137
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’32.321
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’32.548
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’32.847
8Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’33.175
9Daniel RicciardoRenault1’33.488
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’33.601

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2019 United States Grand Prix

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Author information

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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51 comments on “Bottas beats Vettel by a hundredth to take Mercedes’ first pole since Germany”

  1. What a track!

    What a quali, camera angles really displayed speed in a good way. Man was Vettel fast on his last attempt. Jumping around bumps, guiding the car through the slides.

    Bottas well done. This looks like one of those tracks where he can kind of curb Hamilton’s innate advantage.

    Speaking of which both Leclerc and Hamilton, two of the same kind of brilliant quali drivers struggled. Hamilton because of the bumps and I can only imagine Leclerc took out of the tires more than Seb did to fast.

    Looking at driver styles it is no wonder Bottas, Vettel and Verstappen were on top.

    It is gonna be interesting to see how Lewis makes his way to the front and nurses his tires with a massage for the ladies.

    And what madness will be in to turn one? Bottas, lenient defender on a mean streak, Vettel who has not crashed in a while now, Verstappen who needs to prove he is better than Albon and Leclerc the pupil who far exceeded Verstappen now in wheel to wheel brutality.

    Then there are third row foxes Albon the budist driver and Hamilton trying to win a Championship with a win.

    I have a hunch Bottas will be to slow, Vettel will spin or loose out on strategy so Leclerc or Verstappen will win this race.

    1. Most certainly Max does not need to prove he is better than Albon.

      1. Oh I think he does as he is being outscored by him. Clearly he is feeling pressure hence his verbal outbursts.

    2. Think Leclerc might have had an older engine after the FP3 incident (might be wrong though), which would explain some of his deficit.

      Hamilton just seemed to have an off day, he almost always bounces back on Sundays though.

      Just a super close qualifying, we can’t ask for anymore than that! Hopefully the top 3 are that evenly matched tomorrow and we get an awesome race!

    3. Albon is now Officially at Gasly’s level of speed Apparently. Red Bull has no faith he can keep up with the Midfield so they put him on softs for Q2…

      1. Red bull make sure max gets the fastest set ups to try to hype him up. Its why gasly is suspiciously faster in the toro rosso then in the red bull #2 car

        1. @carlosmedrano What a load of rubbish. Why would Red Bull purposely sabotage one of their cars just to prove another one of their driver’s talent? If this is your way of justifying Ricciardo’s pace against Max, it is laughable. I’m a huge fan of Ricciardo, but Max beat him fair and square.

      2. @Marty Well, in Mexico last time out, he started on the medium along with his teammate, as well as the Mercedes and Ferrari-duo.

  2. I’m guessing Hamilton will sit back and let it unfold in front. I think his race pace will be better than the RBs and so far Merc strategy has shown to be sharper than Ferrari.

    1. He’ll probably just sit there and luck in like most of his ‘titles’..

      1. Yeah Jake, it has nothing to do with Hamilton committing his life to racing since a very young age, progressing up through the junior formulas and eventually making it to F1 where he proved himself and continued to improve. That’s why he’s in a top team, that’s why he has the all time pole record and that’s why he’ll soon be a 6 time F1 WDC.

        Oh no, I forgot he didn’t do that did he ? He sat at home flipped a coin and because it landed on heads he became an F1 driver with 5 world titles. How lucky he was that day…

      2. You can’t be lucky 6 times mate, anf 5 Times in a row !

        1. Rosberg won in 2016, so it’s not 5 times in a row.

      3. @Jake
        This must be a serious candidate for “dumbest comment ever”, lol!

  3. When the going gets tough the Lewis checks out!

    1. +1
      Imagine checking out into 6 titles. All other drivers just too silly to check out when the going gets tough.

      1. He’s been given the best car and still been lazy

        1. Reading your comments reminds me I have to clean the cats’ litter tray, thanks.

    2. @Jake
      You obviously love to make a fool of yourself, don’t you?

    3. funny stuff.

      but he does seem to have a pattern of not doing that well in his championship-clinching races. or am I wrong? has someone done the research?

      1. No one cares – the record books show that 2019 – Hamilton & Mercedes are Champions.

  4. He’s smart, stay out of trouble, do a Newgarden for the points then let it all hang out in the last two races.

  5. It’s going to be three ways at turn one: Bottas on the inside, Vettel on the outside and Verstappen between the two.

    Leclerc may squeeze Hamilton a bit, but this time 6 world titles will have him back out of the fight.

    McLaren may see the best of it, in case things get rough at the front.

    Game on!

    1. Would be eight, with the ones lost to the Finns Räikkönen and Rosberg!

      1. If you’re counting those, then you also gotta subtract the one he stole from Massa.

        1. “Stolen from Massa”, driving a slowest car and being robbed a well earned victory in Belgium?
          Yeah, you clearly missed something, dude.

        2. @crystakke You mean the title they (FIA) tried to steal from Hamilton and against all odds, he still won it?

  6. Looked like a strategic Q3 by Hamilton to me. Just qualify down the order, with recent issues involving Max in mind, and let the top 4 sort each other out at the first corner. All he needs is four points, so no biggie.

  7. By Telegraph staff and agencies

    1:21PM GMT 31 Oct 2009

    The Finn is expected to depart McLaren after this weekend’s inaugural race in Abu Dhabi, and like his predecessor Fernando Alonso, he will leave angry at the preferential treatment shown to co-driver Hamilton.

    “It was always difficult to accept that Lewis was always the first to receive the new parts,” Kovalainen was quoted as saying in Finnish newspaper Helsingen Sanomat. “I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship.”

    Kovalainen has 22 points this season compared to Hamilton’s 49, but felt that difference would have been much smaller had the team been more even-handed in its alternate strategies.

    “Every time this season, when Hamilton and I are in the third part of qualifying, I had to do it with more fuel. If you take into account the quantities of fuel, I would have had pole position several times.”

    1. Not sure what this has to do with the great qualifying session we saw today…

      1. Meh…We will see A lot of this over coming week from jealous “fans”. Suck it up boys and girls…Lewis Hamilton 6 x WDC. Boy, that’s gotta hurt

  8. Bottas went 4 wheels off in Turn 19. No one cares. Hamilton and Verstappen went 4 wheels off in Turn 19 as well. No one cares. Verstappen and Hamilton blocking Kvyat in last corner running his first section. No one cares. It’s always Kvyat fault. Absolutely shameful judging.

    1. @regs They did not go with all wheels over the curb, but (some barely) kept the two left wheels on them, which keeps the automatic sensor happy and is thus legal,as they consistently showed with replays during the weekend when times were deleted, or not.

      1. Verstappen in Q3
        https://i.imgur.com/OCUWRZW.jpg

        Hamilton in Q3
        https://i.imgur.com/Pfnq8Ta.jpg

        Bottas in Q3
        https://i.imgur.com/WDbOlYk.jpg

        And what’s more, going 4 wheels off on his fastest lap in Turn 9
        https://i.imgur.com/Np0rujM.jpg

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      3rd November 2019, 8:37

      Kvyat did not yet a penalty for this incident. This was not his hot lap…

      And as the other reply states, none of the drivers you mention go too wide at turn 19 either.

  9. Hamilton seemed a bit out of form, right now.
    He is missing out in qualifying more often than not and Bottas did an overall better job than him this season, on saturdays.
    Possibly (probably?) a sign Lewis’ prime is ending.
    Big changes ahead.

    1. I don’t think it’s that deep @liko41

      A growing trend from Hamilton is to focus more on race pace. His pace this year has been epic, he seems to be able to keep life in the tyres while lapping much quicker than Bottas. I’ve been amazed at some of his pole laps over the years but those don’t win any points. I think Hamilton now has the confidence in his race pace to not worry about pole as much. Sure, he’ll go for it when the car is there, but starting lower down won’t phase him. He’s a wise head now and knows to get podiums and points when the car isn’t there for a win.

      I also wouldn’t rule out just wanting to wrap the championship up. Sure, he only needs 4 points but a double DNF and two wins from Bottas and it’ll go to the wire. That’s got to be a worry for anyone as a crash and reliability issues aren’t out of the question.

      Let’s not forget people thought he was done in 2015 when he was out-qualified by Rosberg.

      If Hamilton being out of form is qualifying 3rd last week and winning a race with outstanding race pace then I don’t know what being in form is ?

      1. The point is the car was there in Japan and in Austin, but it was Bottas who grabbed both poles. When the car is there, Valtteri seemed to be more effective than Lewis. This must sting a little bit, when you talk about a driver who’s rated amongst the fastest of all times.
        And remember, his comparison is Bottas, not Senna and not even Rosberg.
        Focusing on race pace is wise, so is trying to bank the points to seal the championship, but none of these approaches appears entirely convincing, at least IMHO.
        But I guess, only time will give us answers.

        1. @liko41 You are missing the point. In the olden days they could change setup after quali. Nowadays the cars go to parc ferme after quali and there is no setup change allowed anymore.

          So the setup is a compromise between Q3 and race pace. Hamilton sets his car up with a focus on race pace. Bottas sets his car up with a focus on Q3.

          That’s why Hamilton is slightly less fast in Q3 and much faster in the race. Vice versa, Bottas is slightly faster in Q3 and a lot slower in the race.

          1. Although, clearly this time in Q3 Hamilton simply messed up both his runs. While Bottas nailed the first run.

            To be honest Vettel and Verstappen also messed up their first runs. Which ultimately turned out to be the most important one.

          2. @f1osaurus
            So, you are basically assuming that Bottas knowingly and voluntarily sacrifice his long distance performances in order to maximise his chances of beating his teammate in quali.
            And Mercedes is ok with this.
            Fair enough.

          3. @liko41 Clearly Bottas does that yes.

            It’s each drivers own decision to focus more on Q3 or more on the race.

            You didn’t even know this?

            I guess you are one of those people who are totally surprised that when drivers have a grid penalty they tend to be slower in Q3 as well. And then even more amazed that during the race they have great pace.

          4. @f1osaurus
            Lol, mate, clearly Bottas focused only on Saturday and hadn’t the pace yesterday!
            ROTFL!

          5. @liko41 Lol mate indeed. Hamilton came from fifth and almost won that race! Plus he did it on the worse of the two strategies, because Bottas got the prime strategy by getting pole.

            So imagine how much race focused Hamilton’s setup had to be to overcome all that.

            Do you even try to think before you spout nonsense?

        2. So, accordingly to your own words, Bottas beated Hamilton because he only focused on qualifying, but won the race because he got a better strategy…by being on pole.

          Aristotelian logic. And, funny enough, you fail to realize it, lol!

  10. i think leclerc screwed up the last corner and lost the pole there. was expecting him to be at least 3 tenths up on seb, so it might have been the engine change but he lost at least 2 tenths on the last corner on his final lap..still, interesting grid, hope the race won’t be to boring

  11. Top 6 drivers will have an accident turn 1..

    McLaren wins..

    A guy can dream can’t he *.*

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