Hamil­ton nabs pole at U.S. Grand Prix

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jim Ver­tuno The As­so­ci­ated Press

Lewis Hamil­ton needs a late­sea­son charge to catch Nico Ros­berg for the For­mula One cham­pi­onship. He can start Sun­day from pole po­si­tion at the U.S. Grand Prix.

Hamil­ton out­gunned his Mercedes ri­val and team­mate on the last lap to grab his first pole po­si­tion at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas, where he’s won three times start­ing from sec­ond.

“I feel amaz­ing,” Hamil­ton said. “I could hear the crowd cheer­ing.”

Hamil­ton has been a Texas fa­vorite with his three wins in four years and he re­turned this year fac­ing a 33-point deficit be­hind Ros­berg in the ti­tle chase. His fastest lap of 1 minute, 34.999 sec­onds pushed Ros­berg to No. 2.

“It was a good lap I did. An­noyed when Lewis crossed the line and beat me,” said Ros­berg, who also threw a jab at Hamil­ton’s sea­son-long trou­bles get­ting off the start­ing line.

“As we’ve seen this year, qual­i­fy­ing isn’t all im­por­tant,” Ros­berg added. “From P2 I still have a great chance for to­mor­row.”

In­deed, Hamil­ton has been be­dev­iled by poor starts and pole po­si­tion Sun­day could mean lit­tle. He’s won only three of the pre­vi­ous eight races this sea­son when he started No. 1.

A good start will be crit­i­cal Sun­day. The first sec­tor at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas sends the cars up through a 110-foot el­e­va­tion and into a hard left turn that sends them back down­hill. Ros­berg ad­mits he strug­gles with the turn, where Hamil­ton got the in­side line at the start in 2015 and bumped him wide.

“It’s very tech­ni­cal in terms of brak­ing and po­si­tion­ing. It’s very dif­fi­cult,” Hamil­ton said.

Hamil­ton has dom­i­nated this track and his win last year clinched his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son cham­pi­onship and third over­all. But Ros­berg’s lead is large enough that he can chase down this sea­son’s ti­tle with­out a vic­tory over the fi­nal month. Even if Hamil­ton wins the last four races, Ros­berg wins the ti­tle with three sec­onds and a third.

But a Ros­berg win could crush Hamil­ton’s rally hopes. Ros­berg has said all week he won’t set­tle into the safety of sec­ond place on Sun­day.

“It would be amaz­ing to win the U.S. Grand Prix,” Ros­berg said. “I’ll be fo­cused on that.”

A win Sun­day would make Ros­berg just the fourth driver in For­mula One his­tory to get 10 in a sin­gle sea­son. And it would push him that much closer to match­ing the 1982 cham­pi­onship won by his fa­ther, Keke Ros­berg. He would also be in strik­ing dis­tance of the sin­gle-sea­son vic­to­ries record held by Michael Schu­macher and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel.

Red Bull flirted with the top spots Satur­day when Max Ver­stap­pen and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo went 1-2 in the morn­ing prac­tice. But nei­ther car was able to chal­lenge the supremacy of Mercedes once qual­i­fy­ing be­gan.

Ric­cia­rdo, who fin­ished third in Austin in 2014 and won in Malaysia when Hamil­ton’s car didn’t fin­ish, hopes he can make another podium. Ver­stap­pen will start fourth. Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen and Vet­tel will start fifth and sixth.

“Not re­ally close to Mercedes, but we ex­pected them to be very hard to beat,” Ric­cia­rdo said. “It’s a good fun cir­cuit, good for over­tak­ing. We’ll see what hap­pens.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.