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Qualifying analysis - Rosberg gets his timing right

01 Nov 2014

Lewis Hamilton had set the pace throughout Austin practice, but when it mattered most it was Nico Rosberg who found a definitive edge over his Mercedes team mate to secure pole position for the 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix on Saturday. And the German must retain that edge if he is to close the 17-point deficit to his title rival on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at the qualifying formbook in Austin…

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.067s, P1

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.443s, P2

Both drivers experienced brake problems during the day, Rosberg a glazed disc in FP3, Hamilton the left front locking all through qualifying and flat-spotting his Q2 soft tyres with which he must start the race. But Mercedes’ advantage in lap time was as great as ever as they wrapped up the front row. Rosberg, however, was unbeatable on this occasion and Hamilton said that even without his problems he doubted whether he would have been able to take pole. The scene is thus set for a frenetic duel between them, as Rosberg needs to claw back as much of Hamilton’s 17-point advantage as they head into the two final races.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 36.906s, P3

Felipe Massa, 1m 37.205s, P4

Williams have had pace all weekend, and Bottas’s lap at the start of Q3 was a blinder as he moved ahead of Massa for the first time in qualifying. The Finn said he was happy with the way things went once he’d found a set-up that gave him full confidence in the car, while the Brazilian rued being behind him and thus on the dirty side of the grid having been the quicker driver for so long.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 37.244s, P5

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 39.621s, P17, will start from pit lane

Ricciardo felt he got everything from the RB10 package that he could, on a weekend when Red Bull have been struggling. Vettel did run in Q1, after the stewards indicated that’s what they wanted to see, but made only a token effort as he will in any case be starting the race from the pit lane after his car was fitted with a complete new powertrain overnight.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.610s, P6

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 37.804s, P9, will start P8

Alonso said that sixth on the grid was the best he could have hoped from his car, and was relieved to have been that high up considering that Ferrari had pondered replacing his powertrain at one stage which would have meant a pit-lane start. Raikkonen was not far off him this time, but said he was troubled by understeer all through Q3.

McLaren

Jenson Button, 1m 37.655s, P7, will start P12

Kevin Magnussen, 1m 37.706s, P8, will start P7

McLaren’s engineers came up with the solution to their FP3 problems of feeble grip in the windy and cold conditions of the day, and both Button and Magnussen were very closely matched throughout qualifying. Sadly for Button he drops five grid places - and from the clean side of the grid to the dirty - because of a gearbox change.

Sauber

Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.810s, P10, will start P9

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 39.555s, P16, will start P15

Courtesy of Sutil, Sauber made it through to Q3 for the first time this year, giving the Swiss team a realistic chance of much-needed points (they have yet to score in 2015), and there was another bonus when the German moved up a further place because of Button’s penalty. While he was happy with his car, Gutierrez admitted that he struggled to get the best out of his on the soft tyre in Q1.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, 1m 38.467s, P11, will start P10

Romain Grosjean, 1m 39.679s, P18, will start P16

Lotus had a mixed day. Maldonado just missed out on a Q3 run by a tenth of a second but nevertheless qualified 11th, the team’s best position of the season, and made the top 10 subsequently through Button’s penalty. But Grosjean had a tough time, struggling for grip and balance in Q1 as he took his second-worst start position of the year.

Force India

Sergio Perez, 1m 38.554s, P12, will start P11

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.598s, P13

Perez has struggled all weekend with the wind and poor grip, and said he needed two sets of the soft Pirellis just to get through Q1, leaving him only one for Q2. Hulkenberg, however, was convinced that Q3 would have been possible but had an extraordinary experience on his final Q2 run when a tear-off visor wrapped itself round a front wheel entering Turn 12 and forced him to understeer off the road.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 38.699s, P14, will start P17

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 39.250s, P15, will start P14

Toro Rosso were badly hit by the drop in temperature as Kvyat and Vergne struggled to generate tyre temperature. Vergne had to switch too to an old-specification engine, and Kvyat had a 10-place grid drop to serve for an engine change, so all round it was a deeply frustrating day for the team.