Lewis Hamilton gave his best to clinch pole, but a surprising Red Bull didn't leave him any chance to stay in front.
Mercedes looked like favorites for pole yesterday, when Red Bull and Max Verstappen were struggling with balance. Both Hamilton and Bottas couldn't really match Verstappen and Perez's lap times in quali, but the seven-time world champion gave absolutely everything at the end of Q3 to try and grab pole from the Dutchman, but he could only take the front row.
Verstappen is the fastest man in quali with 2 tenths of advantage on Hamilton. The Briton will try to attack Max after the green light, but will also have to defend from Perez in third. The three of them will wear medium compound at the start, in a race where two stops are likely to happen. Strategy will play a key role, as well as temperatures and track conditions, which will affect tyre wear.
It is a long way to go until turn 1, where anything can happen: Verstappen is currently leading the drivers' championship with 6 points over Hamilton. The Austin Grand Prix is the first of the final acts of this wonderful title fight, that will see only one champion.
"I gave it everything today. It was a bit of a struggle through qualifying, Red Bull were incredibly quick and from first practice onwards we seemed to fall back slightly in comparison" admitted Sir Lewis.
"I was happy with how my last lap in Q3 turned out, of course there are always areas to improve but I think that was pretty much the maximum. The crowd has been absolutely amazing here, so my mindset tomorrow is to win the race and give them all a great show.
"We’ll have to work as hard as we can, but we’re starting in a good position and I’ll give it my best into Turn 1 as there is an opportunity there - he continued - tyre wear is really aggressive here so it will be interesting to see what strategy we can do and that will present opportunities along the way, as well. So today wasn’t my favourite day but we can fight tomorrow".