USA Grand Prix – Saturday 22nd October 2016. Austin, Texas

A round-up of all the action from qualifying at the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

Red Bull Racing

Verstappen was quickest in FP3 ahead of his team mate, and it looked as though Red Bull would be in the mix with Mercedes for pole. They opted to split strategies for the race, with Verstappen setting his Q2 time on the soft tyres, Ricciardo the supersoft. They ended up locking out the second row but Ricciardo did beat his team mate in qualifying for the first time since Singapore.

Daniel Ricciardo, 3rd, 1:35.509: “I’m happy with qualifying for sure. It was pretty much the best we could do today, good progression and we got quicker and quicker. We start on the supersofts and the guys around me are on softs so I hope that works out well for me. We suspected that would be the case and I was happy to do it, hopefully it gives me a little bit off the start and we can challenge the first lap. The supersofts probably won’t have as much range as the softs so you want to try and get at least a handful of laps out of them, but ideally it puts me in a better position off the start and hopefully I can dictate my own pace as opposed to fighting in traffic.”

Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:35.747: “Being both on the second row is not a bad result at all. For me the qualifying started off well but didn’t end great. I was happy to qualify in Q2 on the soft and that was a good lap, from there on it was quite difficult. The first run in Q3 was ok, I was just building up, and then the second run went well until the last corner where I lost some time due to over steer. I have three cars in front of me so there will need to be some passing during the race and hopefully starting on the soft compound will help. Mercedes have shown in qualifying that they are pretty strong and will be hard to beat. Our focus needs to be on what comes from behind us. Daniel and I starting on different strategies means we have options to attack or defend so I hope it is an exciting race.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “A strong qualifying by both of our drivers to line up third and fourth on the grid. We adopted a different strategy for the drivers in Q2 with Daniel on the supersoft tyres and Max on the softs, which was not only the drivers’ preference but also from the team perspective it gives us different options for race strategy. We know Mercedes are always very strong on a Saturday but we had encouraging race pace yesterday and hopefully we can use that to good effect in the Grand Prix tomorrow.”

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Hamilton had a point to prove after Japan, which he did in style, beating his team mate to pole by two-tenths of a second. Rosberg ran wide at Turn 1, losing valuable time, but was still comfortably on the front row. Given that the race has been won in the past two years by the driver starting second, there is good reason to be cheerful on both sides of the Mercedes garage.

Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:34.999: “We’ve been working so hard and this is a really good reward for everyone at the team. I’m really pleased it all came together today so I could claim my first pole in the US. I’ve always been quite bad around the first corner, finding it hard to get the right line and losing time at this part of the track but today I finally got it right – and it was the right time to do so! I feel strong this weekend and I’m just going to approach Sunday like any other race. We’ve done a lot of work to solidify our starts as well as our long run pace and I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd, 1:35.215: “I produced a good lap for my final run in Q3, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough as Lewis found some extra time in the first sector. As we’ve seen this year, it’s not always about where you qualify and I believe I still have a great chance at winning tomorrow’s race. I’ll try to catch Lewis as we head towards the first corner but it’s a track that provides plenty of opportunities if it doesn’t happen there. It would be fantastic to leave here on Sunday night with a first US Grand Prix win.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “It is fantastic to see both cars in the top two spots after a tricky day for us here in Austin. We had a messy FP3 session, failing to complete laps on the super soft tyre, and it looked from yesterday’s running like the gaps to Red Bull and Ferrari would be very close. But we put our heads down last night, worked through the problems we’d been having and it’s a positive surprise to see the gap back to Red Bull today. They have taken a bit of an advantage by splitting the tyre strategies on their cars, which is not something we want to do with our boys at this stage of the season, and that could make things harder for us tomorrow.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “Congratulations to Lewis on a fantastic pole position. Again, it was a very close competition with Nico throughout all of qualifying. We elected to take the soft tyre for the race start, finishing Q2 with two good laps on that compound. We came into Q3 and actually, from the first run, demonstrated some good pace compared to the Ferraris and Red Bulls but both drivers left some performance on the table. They were both able to improve second time out, especially Lewis, who produced an outstanding lap and improvement, particularly in sector one. We’re looking forward to putting on an exciting race tomorrow leading from the front row of the grid.”

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