Max scored his best ever US Grand Prix qualifying result in Austin, landing third place on the grid just under seven hundredths of a second behind pole winner Valtteri Bottas in a tight grid shootout at the Circuit of the Americas. Alex meanwhile will line up on row three of the grid after finishing in sixth place.
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the opening phase of Q1, with the Mercedes driver setting a best time of 1:33.454 that left him a little under a tenth of a second ahead of Max who held P2. Valtteri Bottas was in third place at the end of the first sequence of runs, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel fourth ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Alex who was half a second off the pace.
The top six elected to skip their final runs and their absence allowed Lando Norris to take a big step up the order, with the McLaren rookie claiming top spot with a lap of 1:33.353. That put him a tenth of a second ahead of Hamilton, and Max went comfortably through to Q2 in third place with his sole run time of 1:33.549.
Along with Norris a host of other drivers improved on their final runs, with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly jumping to fourth place ahead of Bottas and Vettel, and with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen jumping to seventh place ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
The improvements meant that Alex slid down the order, but the Thai driver’s time of 1:33.984 was, in the end, good enough for P11, just ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari. The last three through to Q2 were Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Eliminated, then, at the end of Q1 were Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen in P16 and P17 respectively, followed by Williams’ George Russell, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and the second Williams of Robert Kubica.
In Q2, it was Alex who set the pace in the first runs. While Max went out on medium tyres, as did the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers, the Thai racer opted for soft compound Pirellis and he led the way with a time of 1:32.898 ahead of Hamilton, Max, Bottas, Leclerc and Vettel.
Alex then elected to sit out the final runs. Max went out again but aborted at the end of his lap, as did Hamilton and Bottas. The Ferrari drivers, though, had bolted on a second set of medium tyres and on this run they went quicker, with Leclerc topping the segment with a lap of 1:32.760.
Vettel took second ahead of Alex and Hamilton, with Max progressing in fifth place ahead of Bottas and Norris. Sainz went through in eighth ahead of Ricciardo and Gasly.
It was Bottas who set the early pace in the final top-10 shoot-out. The Finn put in a lap of 1:32.029 ahead of Vettel by just 0.012s. Max took third place with a time of 1:32.191, with Leclerc and Hamilton fourth and fifth. Alex, meanwhile, set a good opening time of 1:32.548 to claim P6 well ahead of the McLarens of Sainz and Norris.
And that was how the order remained. Pushing to find an improvement, Bottas’ rivals stretched too far and only Max made a dent on his opening time – though his 1:32.096 was not enough to make up a place. The Finn therefore took the 11th pole position of his career, a hundredth of a second ahead of Vettel and six hundredths clear of Max. Leclerc will start from the back of row two, with Hamilton ahead of Alex on row three. Row four will feature the McLarens of Sainz and Norris and the last two top-10 places will be filled by Ricciardo and Gasly.
3 – Third place is Max’s best ever qualifying result at the Circuit of the Americas. His previous best was fourth in 2016.
7 – Max’s P3 makes it seven top-three starts for the Team in the United States Grand Prix.
United States Grand Prix - Qualifying Top 10:
- Valtteri Bottas
- Sebastian Vettel
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Charles Leclerc
- Lewis Hamilton
- ALEX ALBON
- Carlos Sainz
- Lando Norris
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Pierre Gasly