Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hamilton Reached For The Stars In US Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Daimler AG Mercedes Benz
One year ago, Lewis Hamilton put the cap on a remarkable 2015 Formula 1 season by clinching his third world championship at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas with victory in the race. It was after the 2015 United States Grand Prix when circumstances emerged that would preview a different 2016 for the reigning champion.

As Hamilton settled into his title-winning rhythm in the late part of last season, the other Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg had broken into a late-season rush by winning the final three races. A driver who was perhaps underestimated and sometimes discounted compared to his proven teammate, Rosberg carried his new-found momentum after the United States Grand Prix into the early races of 2016. Now, as Formula 1 returns for the 2016 event at the Circuit of the Americas, it is the German driver who holds an advantage on Hamilton. However, with four races remaining and a 33-point lead for Rosberg, the twisty 20-turn, 5.516-kilometer track in Texas provides a showdown in the twilight of a season.

With pole position at stake on Saturday afternoon, the fight for the qualifying supremacy in the United States Grand Prix became the latest show of equality between the title contenders Mercedes AMG drivers jostled for the top spot throughout qualifying. Lewis Hamilton posted the top time in Q1 while Nico Rosberg was faster in a Q2 session where Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo was the ultimate quickest. Hamilton's late lap in Q3 at a time of 1-minute, 34.999 seconds was the edge the Brit needed for his first pole at the Circuit of the Americas 0.216 seconds faster than teammate Rosberg. Despite coming short in qualifying at track, Sunday's main event has been highly fortune for Hamilton who won on three of the four races held on the circuit.

As Mercedes AMG race cars achieved a front row lockout for the 11th grand prix in 2016, Red Bull Racing again appeared highly visible as the second-best team on the current Formula 1 grid for the 2016 United States Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo outran fellow Red Bull-TAG Heuer racer Max Verstappen. Ricciardo will be the highest driver at the start of Sunday's race to start on Pirelli's Supersoft compound tires. The pattern of teams dominating grid rows continued with the Scuderia Ferrari team. Kimi Raikkonen is placed in the 5th place spot beside 6th place Sebastian Vettel.

Photo Credit: Foto Studio Columbo Per Pirelli Media

Announcing new plans for the 2017 season earlier this month involving a switch to the Renault team, German driver Nico Hulkenberg posted the seventh fastest time in qualifying in association with his current Force India outfit. Williams Martini Racing's Valtteri Bottas joins Hulkenberg on the fourth row while teammate Felipe Massa will starting one spot behind in ninth. Carlos Sainz Jr driving a Toro Rosso-Ferrari is the final driver settled into the top-10 for the United States Grand Prix.

No grid place penalties for mechanical changes or dispensary reasons means all 22 Formula 1 drivers will start in their qualifying positions. The 2016 United States Grand Prix is slated for a 2 PM local starting time (3 PM in the eastern time zone).

2016 Formula 1
United States Grand Prix
Starting Lineup

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
13 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
15 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
18 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
19 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
20 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
21 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
22 31 Esteban Ocon Manor Mercedes-Benz

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