Verstappen edges Hamilton for US Grand Prix pole position
Austin (AFP) – Max Verstappen in a Red Bull stormed to pole position for the US Grand Prix on Saturday, edging out title rival and Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen claimed his ninth pole of the season with a time of 1min 32.910sec, two tenths faster than the British driver.
Sergio Perez, in the second Red Bull, was third fastest, just 0.15sec behind Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas, in the second Mercedes, was fourth fastest, but will drop to ninth on the gird for Sunday's race after changing his engine.
"In Q3 my first lap wasn't amazing but in the final lap it started drizzling in the final sector so I wasn't sure if I could hold on to my lap time but it came together," said Verstappen.
Verstappen went into the weekend with a six-point championship lead over Hamilton with six races left.
However, Hamilton has won five of the eight races held at the Austin track since its 2012 debut.
Bottas was victorious once, in the last event held in 2019.
By contrast, Verstappen has finished fourth, third and second.
"I gave it everything today - it was a bit of a struggle through qualifying," said Hamilton.
"I think from P1 onwards we kind of fell back a little bit and the Red Bull guys were incredibly quick.
He added: "I was happy with my last lap, of course there's always areas we can improve but I think that was pretty much everything we had.
"We'll just work as hard as we can tomorrow. My mindset is to win the race."
In an indication of the intense pressure building in the title race, Verstappen had branded Hamilton a "stupid idiot" in Friday practice.
He was angered by the Mercedes man pushing past on the inside of his Red Bull when the Dutchman was lining up a flying lap.
Despite Hamilton's love of the track, Red Bull do at least have one win in Texas courtesy of Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
The rest of Sunday's top half of the grid is made up of Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in the McLarens.
AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were the next fastest.
© 2021 AFP