The Circuit of The Americas always offers up drama, glitz and glamour. Unlike last year, qualifying actually took place on Saturday, with blue skies and 33 degree track temperatures a far cry from the dismal, wet conditions of the session 12 months ago.
Qualifying took place following a final practice session dominated by the Red Bull’s of Verstappen and Ricciardo. The first session gave Jenson Button an afternoon to forget. His lowest ever qualifying result in the USA, he’ll start 19th with only Wehrlein, Nasr and Ocon behind him. Ahead of the experienced Brit will start Magnussen, who failed to match his Renault Teammate who progressed into the second qualifying session. It was disappointment, too, for Romain Grosjean.. The Haas driver would have expected more from his team’s home qualifying, but he failed to make it out of the first session and rounds off the eliminated drivers.
The second session was once again the scene of shocks, but it was no shock for Palmer. Despite making it into the second session, he struggled and will start on Sunday in 15th, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson behind of him. The Swede managed 16th on the grid, much higher than their championship rivals over at Manor. A mundane Saturday session for Haas ended with Gutierrez managing only 14th place, made even more disappointing by their stellar performance in recent qualifying sessions. Torro Rosso’s Kvyat managed 13th, with his teammate Sainz stealing the show at the team. Sainz made it into the top 10. Showing the scale of Button’s failure in Q1, Fernando Alonso will start in 12th, a long way ahead of his British teammate. Sergio Perez will next week be the star attraction at the Mexican grand prix, but today he was outqualified by his teammate, he will start in P11.
This season’s final sessions have always been dominated by Mercedes. Specifically, Nico Rosberg. He has managed 23 consecutive front row starts (Not including penalties) and if he got one today in Texas, he will equal Senna’s record. At the back end of the top 10, Carlos Sainz will start, behind the two Williams’ of Bottas and Massa, a vast improvement on their Suzuka performance. The Williams’ performance was outshone by a flying Nico Hulkenberg, who this week announced a move to Renault for the 2017 season. Ahead of the young German is the Ferrari’s, with Raikkonen claiming the bragging rights, in 5th with Vettel in 6th. Verstappen has been the scene of controversy since his manoeuvre on Hamilton in Suzuka. He will start in 4th behind his teammate, Ricciardo in 3rd. It was Lewis Hamilton, with a 33 point deficit on his teammate, who will start on pole. Providing he gets a good start, he will begin his chasing of Rosberg to make the end to the season as exciting as we are all anticipating.
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