October 20, 2018
Lewis Hamilton took his ninth pole position of the season, the 81st of his F1 career. It is also his fourth in this Grand Prix, having started from the number one slot once in Indianapolis and three times here at the Circuit of the Americas.
The championship leader will have a Ferrari alongside him on the front row, but it won’t be that of Sebastian Vettel who set the second fastest time, as the German will start from fifth place, following the penalty he received yesterday in FP1, when he failed to slow sufficiently for red flags. Hamilton’s pole lap time was 1.32.237 and Vettel came within 61 thousandths of it, with
a best effort of 1.32.298. Kimi Raikkonen, who was third quickest in his Ferrari with a lap just 70 thousandths slower than pole, is thus promoted to second place on the grid.
As the fastest three times demonstrate, the fight for pole position for the FORMULA 1 PIRELLI 2018 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX was hotly contested, with the track lap record being broken several times. In the fourth spot, Valterri Bottas also managed to drive his Mercedes round in a time good enough to beat Hamilton’s 2017 pole lap of 1.33.108.
Ferrari was back on very strong form in qualifying, which makes it really difficult to predict the outcome of tomorrow’s race. As usual, one significant factor will be tyre wear over a long stint, especially as no one was really able to simulate that this morning, in what was the only dry practice sessions. It will also be interesting to see how Raikkonen’s use of the Ultrasoft tyres to make the cut in Q2 pans out, while his team-mate and the two Mercedes drivers will be in the Supersofts.
Alongside Bottas on the second row will be Daniel Ricciardo, who was 1.257 seconds off the quickest time. Vettel will be alongside the first of the rest of the pack, in the shape of France’s Esteban Ocon, sixth quickest in his Racing Point Force India.
The fourth row is made up of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean’s Haas, as these two teams prepare to do battle right to the final lap for the honor of fourth place in the Constructor’s championship, a fight which is more closely contested than in previous years.
Best placed of those who got no further than Q2 were Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen, tenth and eleventh respectively, while the other three who could have run in the second part of the session did not put in a timed lap. In the case of the two Toro Rossos of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, that was because they have a penalty for changing their Power Units, while in the case of Max Verstappen, he suffered a broken right rear suspension after a heavy bump over a kerb. The Dutchman will therefore line up in thirteenth spot with his Red Bull, so another blistering run up on the order could be on the cards, like the one he produced in Russia a few weeks ago.
Charles Leclerc is ninth in his Sauber, the sixth time he has made it to Q3 this season and Sergio Perez rounds off the top ten in the Racing Point Force India.
It was another difficult for those once great names, McLaren and Williams, who failed to get a driver into Q2 here in the States. Also, out in the first session was Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber.
While the sound of Formula 1 cars was echoing around Austin, there was also plenty of noise on the streets of Miami, for the first of the two days of the F1 Festival which was attended by over 80 thousand people. Red Bull Racing, Renault, Honda and world-champion Emerson Fittipaldi and his McLaren put on an exhibition of speed, color, noise and the now obligatory ‘donuts’ to entertain the vast crowds who flocked to the F1 Miami Festival 2018 site.
The F1 Experiences two-seater Formula 1 cars were also there to give VIP guests the ride of their lives. The giant screen also relayed the qualifying and racing action from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, while Red Bull’s acrobatic aerial display teams kept everyone entertained as DJ’s mixed the fusion sounds Miami has become so famous for.
Once the cars had done their magic, it was time for the live music to take over and popular Spanish singer and actor Abraham Mateo, known for his dance-oriented pop was first on stage, followed by chart-topping Silk City duo made up of Diplo and Mark Ronson.
Miami has extended its warmest welcome to the F1 Festival, the fifth stop in a world tour of iconic and trend-setting cities. Following the great success in London, Shanghai, Marseille and Milan, Miami has hosted a two-day free festival of live car runs along a specially-prepared street ‘circuit’ along Biscayne Boulevard and great musical acts playing in Bayfront Park.