ESPN rounds up the main talking points from qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton narrowly edged out the two Ferraris to secure yet another pole position at the Circuit of the Americas.
Shock: The last few races have seen Mercedes dominate in terms of performance, but Ferrari was much closer throughout Saturday and appeared ready to snatch the quickest time away from Mercedes. In the end, Lewis Hamilton managed to edge it by just 0.061s, but Ferrari will fancy its chances of taking the fight to the champion-in-waiting.
Shocker: Stoffel Vandoorne will join Formula E next season but it seems has though he has already checked out of F1. Its been a rotten season for the Belgian but qualifying last of all in Austin will be a candidate for the lowest moment of his 2018.
A classic… sort of: A fight for pole position where the top three cars are covered by 0.07s should be a breathtaking spectacle and qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas was certainly tense. However, the atmosphere felt a little flat knowing Vettel would have to serve a three-place penalty regardless of where he qualified. As it turned out, both Ferrari drivers fell just short of beating Hamilton to the quickest time anyway. But it’s difficult to ignore the feeling that this was another reminder of how good this season could have been without Vettel and Ferrari’s implosion.
Verstoppers do the job: Ahead of this weekend, the Circuit of the Americas cheekily tweeted a picture of a new kerbs at the circuit and nicknamed it a ‘Verstopper’ (a reference to Max Verstappen losing his spot on last year’s podium for exceeding track limits while passing Kimi Raikkonen).
The name proved to be very apt in Q1. Verstappen ran wide and ran straight over one of the yellow kerbs, damaging his car’s rear suspension in the process. He had already set a time quick enough for Q2 but was unable to compete in that session, meaning he will start 15th.
— Circuit of The Americas (@COTA) October 18, 2018
Midfield fight: We have another close fight in store in the midfield. Esteban Ocon was best of the rest for Force India, but Renault, Haas and Sauber all had a team in the Q3 shootout. While the championship fight fizzled out recently, the fight behind has been super close. Renault and Haas are fighting for fourth position and fittingly will share two rows of the grid — Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean line up on row four, while Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen line up on row six.
Turn 1 prediction: Vettel will drop to fifth position after serving his penalty and will need an aggressive start to get himself back into contention, so expect to see him going aggressive at the start. If Hamilton can hold the lead into Turn 1 he will feel very good about his chances of winning a sixth U.S. Grand Prix — if he does so and Vettel cannot get back to second position, Hamilton will leave Austin a five-time world champion.