Verstappen was quickest in FP3 ahead of his team mate, and it looked as though Red Bull would be in the mix with Mercedes for pole. They opted to split strategies for the race, with Verstappen setting his Q2 time on the soft tyres, Ricciardo the supersoft. They ended up locking out the second row but Ricciardo did beat his team mate in qualifying for the first time since Singapore.
Daniel Ricciardo, 3rd, 1:35.509
“I’m happy with qualifying for sure. It was pretty much the best we could do today, good progression and we got quicker and quicker. We start on the supersofts and the guys around me are on softs so I hope that works out well for me. We suspected that would be the case and I was happy to do it, hopefully it gives me a little bit off the start and we can challenge the first lap. The supersofts probably won’t have as much range as the softs so you want to try and get at least a handful of laps out of them, but ideally it puts me in a better position off the start and hopefully I can dictate my own pace as opposed to fighting in traffic.”
Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:35.747
“Being both on the second row is not a bad result at all. For me the qualifying started off well but didn’t end great. I was happy to qualify in Q2 on the soft and that was a good lap, from there on it was quite difficult. The first run in Q3 was ok, I was just building up, and then the second run went well until the last corner where I lost some time due to over steer. I have three cars in front of me so there will need to be some passing during the race and hopefully starting on the soft compound will help. Mercedes have shown in qualifying that they are pretty strong and will be hard to beat. Our focus needs to be on what comes from behind us. Daniel and I starting on different strategies means we have options to attack or defend so I hope it is an exciting race.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A strong qualifying by both of our drivers to line up third and fourth on the grid. We adopted a different strategy for the drivers in Q2 with Daniel on the supersoft tyres and Max on the softs, which was not only the drivers’ preference but also from the team perspective it gives us different options for race strategy. We know Mercedes are always very strong on a Saturday but we had encouraging race pace yesterday and hopefully we can use that to good effect in the Grand Prix tomorrow.”
Hamilton had a point to prove after Japan, which he did in style, beating his team mate to pole by two-tenths of a second. Rosberg ran wide at Turn 1, losing valuable time, but was still comfortably on the front row. Given that the race has been won in the past two years by the driver starting second, there is good reason to be cheerful on both sides of the Mercedes garage.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:34.999
"We’ve been working so hard and this is a really good reward for everyone at the team. I’m really pleased it all came together today so I could claim my first pole in the US. I’ve always been quite bad around the first corner, finding it hard to get the right line and losing time at this part of the track but today I finally got it right – and it was the right time to do so! I feel strong this weekend and I’m just going to approach Sunday like any other race. We’ve done a lot of work to solidify our starts as well as our long run pace and I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg, 2nd, 1:35.215
"I produced a good lap for my final run in Q3, but unfortunately it wasn't enough as Lewis found some extra time in the first sector. As we've seen this year, it's not always about where you qualify and I believe I still have a great chance at winning tomorrow's race. I'll try to catch Lewis as we head towards the first corner but it's a track that provides plenty of opportunities if it doesn't happen there. It would be fantastic to leave here on Sunday night with a first US Grand Prix win."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It is fantastic to see both cars in the top two spots after a tricky day for us here in Austin. We had a messy FP3 session, failing to complete laps on the super soft tyre, and it looked from yesterday’s running like the gaps to Red Bull and Ferrari would be very close. But we put our heads down last night, worked through the problems we’d been having and it’s a positive surprise to see the gap back to Red Bull today. They have taken a bit of an advantage by splitting the tyre strategies on their cars, which is not something we want to do with our boys at this stage of the season, and that could make things harder for us tomorrow."
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
"Congratulations to Lewis on a fantastic pole position. Again, it was a very close competition with Nico throughout all of qualifying. We elected to take the soft tyre for the race start, finishing Q2 with two good laps on that compound. We came into Q3 and actually, from the first run, demonstrated some good pace compared to the Ferraris and Red Bulls but both drivers left some performance on the table. They were both able to improve second time out, especially Lewis, who produced an outstanding lap and improvement, particularly in sector one. We’re looking forward to putting on an exciting race tomorrow leading from the front row of the grid."
Sauber were only just ahead of the Manors in FP3, but in qualifying they showed more pace, with Ericsson finishing ahead of Grosjean's Haas and Button's McLaren by making Q2. Unfortunately he had no fresh supersoft tyres to use, but 16th was still a positive result. Nasr complained about issues with his brakes, and will line up on the back row of the grid.
Marcus Ericsson, 16th, 1:39.356
“It has been a tricky Friday, as I was not feeling confident in the car. We had quite a lot of work to do overnight to find a better direction for today. We definetly made steps in the right direction for FP3. For qualifying I felt even better in the car. That was a good job by everyone. Talking about qualifying, I am satisfied with my performance. My lap in Q1, that at that time was P14, was really good. In Q2 we did not have a fresh set of supersoft tyres to put on. Anyway, P16 is a decent position to start the race from, and I hope we can again take up the fight with the mid-field in the race tomorrow.”
Felipe Nasr, 21st, 1:38.583
“It is certainly not the qualifying result we can be satisfied with, especially when keeping in mind yesterday’s results. I was pretty satisfied with the balance of the car in both free practice sessions, but in qualifying there was something wrong with the car. We have to investigate and see what we can improve on for tomorrow.”
After the highs of Japen, with two cars into Q3 for the first time, qualifying was disappointing for the Haas team at their home race. Grosjean exited in Q1, complaining about a lack of downforce. Gutierrez made Q2 but could only manage 14th.
Romain Grosjean, 17th, 1:38.308
“We’re missing downforce here and paying a heavy price for it. This is a track that needs a lot of downforce and we just don’t have enough. Low speed is very difficult for us. We were struggling here yesterday with some pieces coming off and we didn’t learn much on track. Today is a bit of a summary of yesterday. We’ve been on the back foot since the beginning and we just haven’t had the grip. We’re good with the top speed but, unfortunately, the pace of the car overall doesn’t look good for tomorrow.”
Esteban Gutierrez, 14th, 1:37.773
“It hasn’t been an easy weekend for the team. We struggled a lot on Friday. Today we focused and gave it everything we’ve got and this is the best result we could get. Unfortunately, we lost some parts on Friday and we’re not using our new front wing, so that’s a few tenths that could have helped us get into Q3, which is what we’re looking for. In the end, it all comes down to focusing and driving as quickly as possible. This is what I did today and it’s what I’m going to do tomorrow to try to get the best result for the team.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Not an unexpected qualifying result. We struggled yesterday. We had a lot of downtime with small issues on the cars, so we didn’t do a lot of running. In FP3 we got a little better understanding and then finished 14th and 17th in qualifying. It was a very good job from Esteban to get into Q2. Romain almost made it, but he got a bit hung up in traffic in the last sector of his lap, so he ended up 17th, just one place out of Q2. We will try to do our best tomorrow. Nevertheless, we’ve learned a lot over the weekend. We keep on learning every time. Last week we had both cars in Q3. This week we got stuck with one car in Q1. It’s so close in the midfield, and that’s the main reason why these things happen. Our car doesn’t seem to be very good in the slow-speed areas and you can see that on sector three of this circuit. But we’ll be up and going for tomorrow and aim to have a good race.”
Vettel complained about transmission problems in FP3, but the fault didn't hamper his running in qualifying. Both Ferraris comfortably made it through to Q3, but didn't have the pace to match either Mercedes or Red Bull. They locked out the third row, with Raikkonen shading Vettel by 0.227s.
Kimi Raikkonen, 5th, 1:36.131
"Obviously we cannot be pleased with where we finished today, looking at the time difference to the front. We did what we could, but our position on the grid is far from ideal. This is the reality today and now we have to be stronger in the race. Yesterday we struggled a bit to find the right set up: we changed small things here and there and today the handling of the car was pretty good. We lack speed in the lap and to go faster we need more overall grip. Tomorrow is going to be a long race, the long run was not too bad, so I expect the car we had today to be better tomorrow. For sure we are going to do our best and hopefully we are going to have a strong race."
Sebastian Vettel, 6th, 1:36.358
"Qualifying was not so good, hopefully the race will go better. Surely we can try and look at different things, learn from today, go forward, and for sure we are not pleased with the gap to the cars ahead. It was not the best session for me: overall it was ok, the car felt fine, but in the end we were not just quick enough. For sure in Q3 I could have done a slightly better lap, but at the end of the day obviously we are missing a bit compared to the cars in front, so I think tomorrow could be a different day. Probably in my last lap I was a bit too aggressive. There remains a bit of a question mark at this point, at least on why we were so competitive in fast corners in Suzuka and here we are missing out; but then again we are missing out across all sectors. For tomorrow we'll see, there's always a chance to outsmart the people but I think we have to react on the fly. The strategy is set for the beginning, in terms the tires to start the race with, but we kept some new tire sets, so we'll see. It could be an interesting race: tyre degradation is always important, it could be playing a big role tomorrow."
Getting both cars into Q3 marked an upturn in form for Williams, with Bottas just shading his team mate by one tenth. Starting ahead of Force India's Perez, Williams will look to regain lost ground in the battle with Force India for fourth in the constructors' championship.
Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:37.116
"This was a good qualifying for us as a team. We’re in-between the Force India’s for the start of the race tomorrow, and that’s after they had more pace than us today. Hopefully, tomorrow it will be a different case. It’s going to be a long race and we know we can compete against them with our race pace. The progress we’ve made since today’s practice with our set-up will hopefully help us, as it’s going to be a very close and aggressive battle with Force India. We need to do everything we can to be ahead of both of them. It’s a battle we can win."
Felipe Massa, 9th, 1:37.269
"The positive from today’s qualifying is that both cars are right in the middle of the Force India’s so we are well positioned to race them tomorrow. The only downside is that the gap to Hulkenberg’s car is bigger than we would have liked, but our car is feeling better on long runs at this track than shorter runs which will help us tomorrow. We need to get everything right in the race tomorrow, especially the strategy, to maximise the points we score."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
"Today was a reasonable qualifying performance. We will never be getting too excited about finishing eighth and ninth, but knowing where the car is at this point in the season we have to be reasonably happy. The car wasn’t looking great on low fuel pace yesterday, so we’ve just been chipping away at improving it. I don’t think we’ve managed to get all of the pace out of both cars, but the work we have done overnight has put us in a more respectable position. Our long run pace has been quite strong so far this week, so the goal was to get in amongst our competitors in the championship today. We’ve done that, so we are well set to have a good race tomorrow."
Palmer made it into Q2 for the second race in a row and with his renewed confidence, he will look to make up places from the start. Magnussen was three places and three-tenths further back.
Kevin Magnussen, 18th, 1:38.317
“We didn’t qualify where we expected today so that’s pretty frustrating. Yesterday the car felt pretty good so we didn’t make any set-up changes, yet the car felt very different out on track. Where we were strong yesterday we weren’t today so we definitely need to work out what’s going on. Hopefully we have decent pace in the race as it’s a circuit where you can overtake here, it’s not impossible to still get a reasonable result.”
Jolyon Palmer, 15th, 1:37.935
“I think I got pretty much the most out of the car today, it’s my best qualifying for a while so I’m feeling good ! I ended up doing just one good lap in Q1 and only one lap in Q2 but they were both pretty decent so I’m happy with 15th. For tomorrow, it’s difficult to tell exactly what our race pace will be like but I’m hoping we can have another good one.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
"Kevin didn’t get a clean lap in Q1 and P18 is quite a way from where we expected to be. Jolyon got through into Q2 thanks to his first flying Q1 lap which was a good effort, and with a perfect lap, better than P15 could have been possible.
"Unlike last year we don’t expect to encounter any rain. The super soft tyre doesn’t seem to be in favour here at COTA so soft and medium move to the fore for strategy. Overtaking is possible here and if we can tailor swift getaways from both drivers at the start all is not lost."
Sainz suffered two separate punctures in FP3, reducing his running. As such, it was a huge achievement to get into Q3 and qualify tenth. Kvyat had a quieter time, exiting in Q2 but with free tyre choice, the opportunity of a double points finish is there for Toro Rosso.
Carlos Sainz, 10th, 1:37.326
“I can’t be happier than what I’m feeling today after that qualifying session! After quite a complicated FP3, where I didn’t get much track time due to the two punctures, to suddenly put such a great lap together in Q2 and get through to Q3 is just amazing – I was really happy when I was told my position over the radio! I’m sure the team was also very pleased, it’s definitely something we needed after some tough race weekends. Today is one of the days I will always remember of my 2016 season! Tomorrow will be a tough race but we will certainly try our best to fight for points!”
Daniil Kvyat, 13th, 1:37.480
“Not a bad qualifying session. The car was a bit difficult for me to drive today, with some small balance issues… Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad lap time considering this and we were very close to Q3 – we only missed out by a tenth and a half. On the positive side, we get to choose the tyres with which to start tomorrow’s race, something that’s important from a strategy point of view. Many things can happen in the race and the midfield is very tight, so we can try and fight for points.”
Jody Egginton, Head of Vehicle Performance
“As a team, we are quite pleased with the qualifying result today following a solid day yesterday. However, FP3 was not straight forwards for both drivers: Carlos suffered two punctures which severely limited his running and forced him to go early on his supersoft set; while Daniil had to conduct a bit of rebalance work to get the car optimised for the change in wind direction. Overall, both drivers were happy with the car balance on Friday, so we knew the pace of the car was sufficient to be competitive in the mid field - qualifying was just a case of keeping out of traffic and making the most of the new tyre. Q1 passed without incident and we were able to abort the second run with Carlos once it became apparent that our direct competitors were not improving sufficiently. Both drivers used scrubbed tyres in Q2 run 1 to get a measure of track conditions and followed this up with new tyres runs. Carlos had an almost perfect lap on his second run, whilst Daniil was strong in parts of sector 2 but struggled in a couple of sector 3 corner entries, costing some time and resulting in him not making Q3, which is a pity as he had been competitive in this sector all weekend. The Q3 lap for Carlos was not as good as his Q2 lap. Having said that, the benchmark was set quite high, which is again a shame as 8th was possible. However, 10th is a good reward for the team’s hard work this weekend, with everybody happy to see our car back in Q3. Our thoughts now move to the race, where we will be able to put what we learned during Friday long runs to good use and hopefully fight for points.”
Perez was unfortunate to be bumped out of Q3 in the dying seconds, missing out by one tenth. Starting 11th, he will have the consolation of free tyre choice for the race. Hulkenberg did make Q3 and impressed once again to be 'best of the rest' in seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg, 7th, 1:36.628
“Lining up seventh on the grid is as good as it gets today. Once again, we’re the first after the three big teams, which is where we can realistically expect to be. We knew we would perform well here, but I am actually quite surprised by the big margin we have over the cars behind us. The start and the first lap will be fundamental for the race, so I will need to keep out of trouble, put my head down and push hard. Choosing the right strategy is where we will focus tonight – I think there are a few different options, so we will need to see which one gives us the best opportunity. Looking at the gaps ahead and behind us, we may be in for a bit of a lonely afternoon, but I wouldn’t mind it at all – I just want a strong result!”
Sergio Perez, 11th, 1:37.353
“It has been a messy day – not only qualifying, but final practice as well. For some reason, I’ve been quite a long way off the pace and we’ve lost some of the performance we had yesterday. This morning we found an issue with one of the components at the rear of the car, which impacted on my pace. I thought we had solved that going into qualifying, but I still believe there is an issue with the car because the data showed it was very difficult for me to match my teammate in the braking zones. The car also felt nervous through the high-speed corners. Hopefully we can understand where I’m losing out and figure out a solution so that it does not impact on my race pace tomorrow.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“The car has been quick here straight out of the box and it’s satisfying to see Nico qualify in seventh place. He clearly had the edge over the cars behind him in Q3 and should be able to race well from there. Being right behind the top three teams is probably the maximum we can hope for on a regular day at this stage of the season, but we still needed to get the best out of our package to be there. Sergio has struggled for confidence with the car today, but starting from eleventh place could open up some opportunities for us in the race. We will analyse the data tonight to see if there is anything we can do to restore the balance he had with the car yesterday. With the conditions likely to remain the same for tomorrow, we expect to be competitive and bring home a good result.”
Wehrlein beached his MRT05 in the gravel in FP3, ending his session and bringing out the red flags. Having already sat out FP1 for Jordan King, he was very short of practice around the Circuit of The Americas but made up for lost time in qualifying. He comfortably out paced his team mate by 0.258s.
Pascal Wehrlein, 20th, 1:38.548
“I made life very difficult for myself this morning, spinning and ending up in the gravel and missing more than half of the session. It was a real bonus to get the car back six minutes from the end of FP3 and the team did a fantastic job to get me out in time to do an out-lap, a timed lap, and an in-lap before the end of the session. I had only taken part in FP2 until that point, having missed the first session, so every lap was critical. My thanks to everyone in my crew for pushing for that as I think it really helped me.
“I threw everything I had at it. It’s another new track for me and it’s one where you really need to get used to the corners and the circuit features and find a good rhythm before qualifying. I wasn’t expecting to find that rhythm again in time; I was feeling pretty unhappy after FP3 and when I was stuck in the gravel, I just couldn’t believe it. It took me a while to come to terms with it, to be honest. So there was quite a lot of pressure and that’s why I’m really happy with my lap. I can’t wait to race now.”
Esteban Ocon, 22nd, 1:38.806
“We struggled a bit on the Supersoft. I came out of the garage quite late as we had a problem with a sticking wheel nut, so I had to push on my outlap, which didn’t help. Overall, it was a difficult qualifying. I made a small mistake which cost me some time; it’s a tricky circuit.
“For tomorrow, there will be a lot of different strategies between the teams, some quicker than others, but it should be interesting. We do know our strategy for tomorrow and we’ll see how that works out. I need a good start and hopefully gain a few places right away. One way or another, I’m expecting a nice fight.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“To be honest we came to this race with the expectation that it was going to be quite a challenge so to end up with Pascal in 20th place on the grid, especially when you take into account his lack of track time, is a great result for the team. Esteban’s 22nd place is not a true reflection of his pace but it is what it is and we have done our homework with regards to long runs on race tyres and believe we will be quite strong in the race. So let’s see how it all shapes up tomorrow.”
Button complained about the rear of his MP4-31 in free practice, and unusually decided to set his first time in Q1 on the slower soft tyre. Coming back out for a second run on the supersofts, he encountered traffic which ruined his lap and scuppered his chances of making Q2. Alonso did progress, but could only manage 12th.
Fernando Alonso, 12th, 1:37.417
“We weren’t quick enough to make it into Q3 today, and we were lacking some rhythm too. Having said that, getting the car into Q3 in ninth or tenth but then having to start the race on used supersoft tyres would be a problem, as other cars would catch us easily after four or five laps owing to the degradation. So, let’s say that 11th for us would have been pole position and 12th is second-best. We’ll start on new tyres and we’ll be able to attack.
“It seems like all the Mercedes-powered teams here got an extra boost and are more competitive, which has made life a little more difficult for us.
“If we want to score some points in the race tomorrow we need to raise our game and find a clever way.”
Jenson Button, 19th, 1:38.327
“It’s disappointing to be in P19 after qualifying. Our pace was good yesterday and this morning - eighth and ninth positions - so there’s definitely something not quite right there. I went out on the softs to start with and we thought we’d have enough pace, but it was a tough lap and I hit a lot of traffic. If we’d judged it right at the end when we put the supersofts on, it might have been fine, but it wasn’t.
“I had four cars to overtake in the last sector alone, and then the last one [Jolyon Palmer] didn’t move out of the way. He saw me really late and stayed on the racing line, so I had to out-brake into the last corner. It’s so important to brake late and carry speed into there and you can’t do that if you’re offline, it hurts the tyres a lot more. It’s disappointing.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can make up some ground in the race but it’s going to be a tough day - we have good race pace but overtaking around here will be almost impossible for us.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“Fernando drove a near-perfect Q2 lap here in Austin today - but, even so, he narrowly failed to go through to Q3, missing out by just 0.169s, ending up 12th.
“However, our car is more competitive relative to our principal rivals’ in terms of race pace than it is in terms of qualifying pace. So, while P12 is far from ideal, it nonetheless gives him a platform from which to attack tomorrow, in an effort to progress through the field to some extent and thereby score world championship points.
“By contrast, Jenson was very disappointed to be eliminated in Q1, having recorded only the 19th-fastest time. Unfortunately, he encountered traffic on what would otherwise have been a very good lap, and was baulked badly at the end of it by Palmer, the combination of those two issues scuppering JB’s chances to show what he could do. Our data shows that, without those problems, he’d have passed through to Q2 every bit as easily as did Fernando.
“It’s irritating, but it happens.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“We weren’t quite able to reach our target of getting into Q3, but, considering how quickly the tyres degrade at this circuit, we believe Fernando is in a good position to secure points by having the freedom of choosing his tyres and providing we can utilise good race strategy in tomorrow’s race.
“Unfortunately, Jenson was caught in traffic during his flying lap in Q1, where he lost a lot of time in Sector Three, but we firmly believe that’s not the true potential of the car. We hope that we can have a good race with him tomorrow.”
Paul Hembery, 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.”