Max Verstappen responded to a bold lap from title rival Lewis Hamilton to take the pole position at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas in front of an ecstatic 120,000 sell-out crowd. Yes, you read that correctly, a sell out crowd on qualifying day!
“I was not sure if I was going to hang onto my lap time,” Verstappen said. “From here onwards, we just hope to have a good start and work together as a team to get the best possible result.”
Despite light rain starting to fall in the final few seconds, Verstappen kept his foot in and carried the momentum through the final sequence of corners to take pole, with his team mate Sergio Perez third.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was fourth, however he’ll drop to ninth courtesy of a five-place grid penalty for exceeding his engine allocation. That’ll promote Charles Leclerc one place to fourth, the Ferrari driver edging out team mate Carlos Sainz.
Daniel Ricciardo was the leading McLaren in eighth, ahead of team mate Lando Norris, with AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda closing out the top 10.
Verstappen’s pole marks the first time since 2013 that a Mercedes has not led the grid from the line at COTA. Either Red Bull or Mercedes have taken the pole at every U.S. Grand Prix to be held at the purpose built circuit in Austin, Texas.
Note - Bottas drops 5 grid places for taking on a new ICE after exceeding his allocation. Vettel and Russell start from the back of the grid after taking on new PU components.
Catch the qualifying recap from Formula1.com:
Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2021 Event Page:
See what Ian Parks had to say from GP Fans: