2016 United States Grand Prix, Qualifying

MERCEDES DRIVER LEWIS HAMILTON CLAIMS POLE POSITION WITH
SUPERSOFT WITH FASTEST-EVER LAP OF AUSTIN

TWO OR THREE PIT STOPS THE MOST LIKELY STRATEGIES: TACTICAL
OPTIONS OPEN AT THE CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS

BOTH MERCEDES AND ONE RED BULL WILL START ON SOFT
TOMORROW: THE ONLY CARS IN THE TOP 10 TO DO SO


Austin, October 22, 2016 – Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for Mercedes at the Circuit of the Americas, setting a time of 1m34.999s using the P Zero Red supersoft tyre. This comprehensively beats the fastest ever lap seen at the track previously: 1m35.657s, set by Sebastian Vettel in 2012.

Track temperatures were significantly warmer for qualifying in the afternoon – at 27 degrees ambient and 39 degrees on track – than for FP3 in the morning, where the Red Bulls went fastest.

The initial Q1 session was completed with all the drivers scoring their best time on the supersoft, which is theoretically around a second faster than the soft. The frontrunners all got through this session using just one set.

In Q2, the Mercedes drivers were straight out on the soft tyres, as was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Red Bull opted to split strategies, with Daniel Ricciardo on supersoft going fastest in Q2. All the remaining drivers used supersoft as well, meaning that three drivers out of the top four will start on the soft tomorrow and can potentially do a longer first stint. However, they will be surrounded by drivers starting on the faster supersoft – with a notoriously tricky first corner to deal with as well.

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The frontrunners did two runs on supersoft for the final Q3 shoot-out, with Hamilton clinching his first pole in Austin by 0.2 seconds from his team mate on the second run.

The strategy options are quite open for the Circuit of the Americas, also because this is a circuit where overtaking is by no means an impossible task. Historically, this is not a race where pole position is vital for race victory – meaning that with the right strategy, anything is possible. Two or three stops expectable, depending on the tyre choice at the start. But somebody could decide to try something different.


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We had perfect conditions for qualifying, in which we saw the race tactics begin already. With both Mercedes starting on the soft tyre, plus Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, there’s a fundamental strategic variation that is likely to hold the key to the race tomorrow. Once again track temperatures were considerably higher this afternoon than the morning, and we’d expect similar conditions for the race tomorrow. We’ve seen in the past that strategy can help boost starting positions, so we can expect an eventful race tomorrow.”

How the tyres behaved:
Medium: Not used at all during qualifying but looks like an interesting option for the race.
Soft: This was essential to the qualifying strategy today, with three drivers using it in Q2.
Supersoft: The most popular choice in qualifying, but affected by quite high degradation.

Free practice 3 – top three times

Verstappen 1m36.766s Supersoft new
Ricciardo 1m37.032s Supersoft new
Raikkonen 1m37.284s Supersoft new
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Qualifying top 10

Hamilton 1m34.999s Supersoft new
Rosberg 1m35.215s Supersoft new
Ricciardo 1m35.509s Supersoft new
Verstappen 1m35.747s Supersoft new
Raikkonen 1m36.131s Supersoft new
Vettel 1m36.358s Supersoft new
Hulkenberg 1m36.628s Supersoft new
Bottas 1m37.116s Supersoft new
Massa 1m37.269s Supersoft new
Sainz 1m37.326s Supersoft new

Most laps by compound so far

Medium Palmer 26 laps
Soft Nasr 23
Soft Vettel 23
Supersoft Raikkonen 18
Supersoft Bottas 18

Best time by compound so far

Medium Hamilton 1m38.394s
Soft Rosberg 1m36.351s
Supersoft Hamilton 1m34.999s


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