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Rosberg on pole in Austin after rain-curtailed qualifying

25 Oct 2015

Nico Rosberg will start the 2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix from pole position, locking out the front row with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg set the fastest time in Q2 at the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday morning, before Q3 was cancelled due to worsening rain.

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Fastest Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 1:56.824 5
2 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:56.929 5
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing 1:57.969 6
4 26 Daniil Kvyat KVY Red Bull Racing 1:58.434 6
5 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:58.596 7
6 11 Sergio Perez PER Force India 1:59.210 6
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 1:59.333 6
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:59.703 5
9 19 Felipe Massa MAS Williams 1:59.999 7
10 33 Max Verstappen VES Toro Rosso 2:00.199 7

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo is third on the grid for this afternoon’s race, followed by team mate Daniil Kvyat. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth and eighth respectively, but both have ten-place grid penalties.

Splitting the scarlet cars were the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, while Williams’ Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen completed the top ten.

Despite the forecasts of ‘light rain’ it was still raining pretty hard at the start when qualifying - postponed from Saturday, of course - finally started, hard enough for officials to mandate Pirelli’s full wet tyres.

Q1 had no sooner begun than Lotus’s Romain Grosjean reported that conditions were on the limit as everybody went out intent on getting in banker laps, as the first 10 minutes were expected to be the best.

Grosjean, Lotus team mate Pastor Maldonado and Kvyat all headed the times before Hamilton banged in 1m 59.393s to go fastest from Ricciardo on 2m 00.288s, but then the red flag came out with 12m 46s remaining when Carlos Sainz lost his Toro Rosso in the esses and crashed in Turn 4, damaging the left front suspension and wing.

At that stage the top six order was Hamilton, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

The session restarted at 09.15, and more rain was coming, but for the time being Hamilton said the track was already better - and Rosberg demonstrated that with two purple sector times on his way to 1m 59.875s and second spot. Hamilton, though, went quicker still, for 1m 58.025s… Ricciardo, however, was also right there with 1m 58.185s.

Vettel then slid off in Turn 10 and touched the outer wall, just as Roberg went fastest on 1m 57.469s, only to be displaced by Ricciardo’s 1m 57.163s. The spectators were getting something to cheer. As Hamilton went back ahead with 1m 56.871s, Rosberg’s response failed to better his previous best, leaving him third. As Hamilton pitted, Ricciardo jumped him with 1m 56.495s, and then Rosberg did likewise with 1m 56.671s.

Further back, the gripless Saubers were 16th and 17th with Marcus Ericsson on 2m 02.212s and Felipe Nasr on 2m 03.914s, as local hero Alexander Rossi won his Marussia intra-team scrap with Will Stevens with 2m 04.176s to 2m 04.526s. Sainz was at the back on 2m 07.304s.

Conditions were only a little better for Q2, with less aquaplaning, but wet tyres were still mandated as the rain was expected to increase.

Turn 10 proved particularly problematic, giving Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Kvyat and Bottas big moments, and seeing Raikkonen and Hamilton spin. Vettel spun in Turn 9 and Perez went off in Turn 7 meanwhile, although nobody sustained any damage.

This time Rosberg headed Hamilton by a tenth, 1m 56.824s to 1m 56.929s, with Ricciardo a second off the Briton.

Fernando Alonso just missed getting McLaren through to Q3, with 2m 00.265s to 10th fastest Verstappen’s 2m 00.199s, and team mate Button with his older spec Honda power unit was 14th on 2m 01.193s. Between them were Bottas - who suffered a rear-suspension failure - on 2m 00.334s and Grosjean on 2m 00.595s, with Maldonado 15th on 2m 01.604s.

By the end of Q2 the rain was heavier, so the start of Q3 was delayed until 10.05. Having wheeled their cars out before the message was received, Mercedes wheeled them back again, and shortly after it was announced that Q3 would not go ahead.

With the penalties taken into account, the provisional grid will therefore line up: Rosberg, Hamilton; Ricciardo, Kvyat; Perez, Hulkenberg; Massa, Verstappen; Alonso, Bottas; Grosjean, Button; Maldonado, Ericsson; Vettel, Nasr; Rossi, Raikkonen; Stevens, Sainz.

Sainz did not set a time within the 107 percent requirement, but has been granted permission to race by the stewards - assuming Toro Rosso have his car repaired in time.

Watch: Nico Rosberg's pole-position lap

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