Max Verstappen will start the United States Grand Prix Sprint from pole after another closely contested qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas.

Verstappen was just 0.055s faster than the polesitter for Sunday’s race, Charles Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris were also within a tenth-of-a-second of the Dutchman leaving four different cars in the top four grid spots later this evening.

The truncated qualifying session mandates the use of the Medium compound for the 12 and 10 minute SQ1 and SQ2 sessions, before a final eight minute shootout on the softs.

Read More: F1 2023 United States GP – Sprint Shootout Results

Going by yesterday’s qualifying session, it was expected that four teams would be in contention on Saturday with Red Bull and Ferrari closely matched and McLaren and Mercedes also a not-too distant threat.

McLaren struggled to fire up the Medium tyres placing as Oscar Piastri found himself on the bubble at the end of the session. Both drivers were ultimately able to advance to SQ2 as the track ramped up, but Piastri only doing so in P14.

It was a better day for Aston Martin as unlike Friday, both of the squad’s drivers escaped elimination at the first time of asking. The same couldn’t be said for Haas as both drivers were dumped in SQ1 despite plenty of home support in attendance and a long-awaited upgrade package.

Verstappen’s 1:35.997 saw him top SQ1 by 0.002s ahead of Charles Leclerc, continuing the pairs’ duel for one-lap supremacy at COTA.

Eliminated from the opening segment were Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant.

Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW45.
21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Around half of the field delayed their return to the circuit in SQ2 as teams were faced with making the decision between preserving tyres and more track time.

Verstappen set the benchmark at 1:35.181, a time he would not improve in the segment following an uncharacteristic spin at Turn 9. The Dutchman would escape the barriers though and maintained the top spot, two-tenths ahead of Leclerc.

Mercedes came close to a double elimination in SQ2 as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton advanced P8 and P9 respectively. Alex Albon just managed to advance to SQ3 for Williams, denying Daniel Ricciardo an appearance in the top-ten shootout on his racing return by 0.033s.

The Australian will start the Sprint this evening in 11th, followed by Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Guanyu Zhou.

It was a quiet start to SQ3 with no cars taking to the track until under five minutes to go in what Red Bull team principal Christian Horner called a “one lap special”.

It was reigning champion Verstappen who was the first to return to the racing surface on the soft tyre, followed by the two McLarens and the remainder of the field who trundled around the circuit, trying to preserve tyres for one final push lap.

(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari with Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in Sprint Shootout.
21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

First to cross the line, Verstappen clocked a 1:34.538 but Norris was able to edge a one-tenth advantage on the Dutchman in the opening sector.

Norris was unable to maintain his advantage throughout the remainder of the lap, slotting into second one-tenth down on Verstappen’s benchmark. Piastri was a further two-tenths adrift.

Leclerc perfected the middle sector, but he too was unable to find enough time elsewhere to find himself 0.055s adrift of the Red Bull and assume second place.

Hamilton in the Mercedes also came close to dislodging Verstappen from the top spot, going third fastest 0.069s slower than Verstappen who claims a third Sprint pole this season.

Norris therefore slipped to fourth ahead of his McLaren team-mate. Carlos Sainz will start the Sprint sixth, followed by Sergio Perez, Russell, Albon and Pierre Gasly.

The United States Grand Prix Sprint takes place at 17:00 local time and will see drivers face 19 laps of the Circuit of the Americas.

With both championships now tied up, there are still vital points to pick up with the final constructors’ standings far from being settled.

Teams enter the Sprint limited for information due to a lack of longer running, and with the field so close, it’s certainly all to play for.

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