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Qualifying highlights - United States 2014 - The battle for grid position amongst eighteen drivers

Published by Christine

Rosberg had time in his pocket
Credit: Daimler AG

Four drivers dropped out in Q1, and four more in Q2, as the sessions were altered slightly to take into account the change in grid size with Caterham and Marussia's absence. That meant it was slightly more interesting to see who missed out and was left at the rear of the field. Sebastian Vettel got his tough weekend started, and there were a couple of other drivers with penalties hanging over their heads.

If you missed any of the action or just need a quick reminder of anything that occurred at the Circuit of the Americas during qualifying, this Factbyte Factbox replay is just what you need.

As it happened: United States 2014 - Qualifying

  • 17:30

    Hello there, F1 and fact fan, welcome to live coverage of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.

  • 17:31

    Formula One is in a bit of a state of turmoil at the moment, with two teams in administration, a handful of others pondering whether to boycott, and of course the domination of Mercedes continuing out on track.

  • 17:32

    There's no clear indication if a boycott will go ahead or not, with Force India at the centre of the situation, so we'll just have to continue as if all is going ahead as scheduled.

  • 17:33

    After the Russian Grand Prix was less than stellar (that's putting it politely), the Circuit of the Americas may be able to spice things up again. It's a great track, a mixture of the best of other circuits, with that challenging elevation climb into the blind first corner.

  • 17:33

    You can view the track map plus further information about the weekend as a whole in the Race Information thread.

  • 17:34
    Factbyte Factbox image

    Tyres this weekend are the mediums and softs, with Pirelli hoping for a two stop stratgey being the optimum, where a one-stop has been key in the past. That's for tomorrow, though, today it's all about going as fast as possible.

  • 17:34

    With Marussia and Caterham sitting this race out, there are only 18 drivers fighting for grid positions. That means a small shake-up to the way qualifying works, with only four drivers dropping out in the first and second sessions, leaving the top ten shootout as normal.

  • 17:36

    If you're looking for the fight between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to get even closer than it has done so far, the gap between them in FP2 was just three thousandths of a second!

  • 17:36

    Sebastian Vettel has chosen this weekend to take that power unit penalty that we all suspected was coming. He will have to start from the pit lane, but is likely to take part in the first session of qualifying just so he can fall within the 107% cutoff point.

  • 17:41

    QuoteInterview with Christian Horner: "Unfortunately, Sebastian has had to take his sixth power unit in its entirety. Whatever he does today, he has to start from the pit lane. Of course, there was a debate, should he even take part in qualifying today? We have to keep mileage to a minimum, but I made the decision we should take part in qualifying. I think it's right to take part in the event."

  • 17:45
    2014 Pole Positions
    1N Rosberg8
    2L Hamilton7
    3F Massa1
  • 17:46

    Lewis Hamilton is searching for his fifth race victory in a row this weekend, and starting from pole position would be very useful for that aim. The Mercedes momentum does seem to be on his side of the garage at the moment, but you never can tell.

  • 17:52

    Not that it means a lot this year, but last year's pole position - for reference - was a 1:36.338. He dominated the weekend, finishing on top in all but first practice, and scooping the fastest lap too. This weekend may not go so well for him!

  • 17:56

    Just about five minutes to go until the session begins. The sun is shining brightly, the fans are cheering loudly and it's looking good out there!

  • 17:56

    Weather icon

    Wind speed2.0mps
  • 17:57

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: It's showtime people! Quali for the #USGP is a matter of minutes away! Let's do this!!

  • 17:58

    Engines are firing up in the garages now, as drivers and teams make their final preparations before heading out for the first session.

  • 17:59

    Daniil Kvyat and Jenson Button both have penalties in store for them - Kvyat's set for a ten place drop for an engine change, and Button has a five place drop waiting for him for a new gearbox.

  • 18:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 18:01

    Sergio Pérez was the first driver to head out on track, but lots more pile out of the pit lane to get their Saturday session underway.

  • 18:02

    Ted News: Vergne has also had an engine change, rather panicked as it was at the end of final practice this morning. He doesn't take a penalty, though, as he's still within the five allowed power units.

  • 18:03
    Almost ready on Pastor's side of the garage too
    Credit: Lotus_F1Team/Twitter

    Maldonado and Grosjean remain in the garage at the moment.

  • 18:04

    Pérez sets the first time, a 1:39.804. Hülkenberg just behind him is five seconds slower, but is on the hard compound, whereas the Mexican went straight onto softs.

  • 18:04

    Gutiérrez and Sutil both also took on the yellow striped tyres straight out of the garage.

  • 18:05

    With the Mercedes drivers getting involved early, we've got Nico Rosberg straight in at the top with a 1:38.848.

  • 18:05

    With 13 minutes left on the clock, just the Red Bull duo are left waiting in the pit lane.

  • 18:06

    Both Williams drivers ratchet up the pace, with Massa slipping into third and Bottas briefly appearing in P1. Lewis Hamilton soon sorted that out though, with a 1:38.795.

  • 18:09

    Sebastian Vettel has left the garage to make his brief appearance. Ricciardo remains inside at the moment.

  • 18:09

    Vettel has actually gone out straight on the soft tyres, which is interesting as we know pace is not really his key objective here.

  • 18:09

    Team radioTeam radio from Lewis Hamilton: "Flat spotted, I can't continue."

  • 18:10

    About halfway through the session and the drivers are returning to the pit lane to freshen up. Maldonado and Grosjean are still out on track, with Massa and Rosberg also circling. Ricciardo finally joins the fun.

  • 18:11

    Maldonado crosses the line for the fourth fastest time, splitting the two Williams drivers.

  • 18:12

    In the drop zone at the moment, we have Hülkenberg and the two Toro Rosso drivers as well. Ricciardo hasn't set a time yet but assuming he is competitive then it's Gutiérrez who is also in trouble.

  • 18:12

    Nico Rosberg drops the benchmark down to 1:38.3, with Hamilton almost half a second slower. Both are still comfortably on the medium tyres.

  • 18:15

    Rosberg has pitted, happy with his P1 time. Hamilton, however, has gone out again but this time with the soft tyres on. Scrubbing them in, or hoping for a better lap time?

  • 18:15

    With those yellow stripes on Hamilton's car, it leaves Rosberg as the only driver not to have used the soft tyres in this first session.

  • 18:16

    Fernando Alonso has improved to second place, with Magnussen also jumping up to third.

  • 18:16

    Jenson Button has dropped down into the bottom four, but he's on a fast lap and improves to fourth.

  • 18:17

    Ah, Rosberg has opted to rejoin the session with those yellow tyres on, perhaps not so happy with his time. The track is evolving quickly.

  • 18:18

    Hamilton's moved up to the top spot, with the times dropped way down now to 1:37.1.

  • 18:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 18:20

    Grosjean sits last and, on his final flying lap, locks up and runs wide. The Frenchman fails to improve.

  • 18:20

    In comparison, Maldonado is up in eighth!

  • 18:20
    Out in Q1
    15JE VergneToro Rosso
    16E GutiérrezSauber
    17S VettelRed Bull
    18R GrosjeanLotus
  • 18:21

    The fastest three in that session were Hamilton, Massa and Bottas.

  • 18:21

    Team radioTeam radio from and to Romain Grosjean: "I'm sorry, not the same car as this morning. I guess we're out?"

    "Yep. By a country mile."

  • 18:22

    TweetTweet from @MauriceHamilton: So (VET aside), Lotus and Sauber now 'slowest', 'last' 'back of grid'.

  • 18:23
    Qualifying Battle
    LotusQualified Ahead
    P Maldonado4
    R Grosjean13
  • 18:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 18:27

    Kvyat heads out of the pit lane first to get the second session started. He's soon joined by Hülkenberg and Maldonado.

  • 18:27

    With just a couple of minutes gone, it's only the two McLaren drivers and Adrian Sutil that remain in the garage.

  • 18:27

    We're expecting four more drivers to drop out in this session, leaving the top ten to duke it out as normal.

  • 18:28

    Team radioTeam radio to Lewis Hamilton: "Straight out, circuit is clear. Just remember this could be your race set."

  • 18:30
    We are ready to send him out!
    Credit: SauberF1Team/Twitter

    Adrian Sutil heads out of the garage, the sole remaining Sauber representative in qualifying today.

  • 18:31

    All 14 cars are out on track, as Nico Rosberg sets the fastest time so far with a 1:37.0.

  • 18:32

    Lewis Hamilton can't match his teammate's time, settling into second by 0.188 this time.

  • 18:32

    The McLaren is running some additional branding this weekend, with bright yellow letters adorning the side of the car. They go very well with Button's pink helmet, you know.

  • 18:33

    Seven minutes left and it's that time where most drivers pit for a moment. Hamilton is complaining about a vibration on his tyres.

  • 18:34

    The current drop zone, at this quiet moment, is Hülkenberg, Sutil, Maldonado and Pérez.

  • 18:36

    Lots of Mexican flags waving in the crowds, as Sergio Pérez attempts to improve out of the bottom four.

  • 18:37

    Rosberg heads out of the pit lane again, as Hamilton reportedly complains of understeer in his car.

  • 18:39

    Pérez does manage to haul his car into the top ten but only just, currently sitting tenth by about a tenth of a second.

  • 18:39

    Teammate Nico Hülkenberg is on his own lap, but isn't having quite such a good time of it.

  • 18:39

    Felipe Massa goes third fastest behind Lewis Hamilton, who hasn't come out of the pit lane for a final attempt.

  • 18:39

    Massa locked up his tyres on that final lap, too, and those are the tyres he'll likely be starting the race on.

  • 18:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 18:41

    Rosberg improves on his lap time with an epic 1:36.2. That's fast.

  • 18:41

    Adrian Sutil hauls himself out of the drop zone, moving up to ninth which drops Pérez back out again.

  • 18:42

    Monisha Kaltenborn watches on from the Sauber pit wall as Pastor Maldonado crosses the line - the only driver that can knock Sutil out... and he doesn't do it. Happy Monisha!

  • 18:43
    Out in Q2
    11P MaldonadoLotus
    12S PérezForce India
    13N HülkenbergForce India
    14D KvyatToro Rosso
  • 18:43

    The fastest three in that session were Rosberg, Hamilton and Massa.

  • 18:45

    Daniil Kvyat climbs from his Toro Rosso, looking (if you can tell through the helmet) somewhat disappointed. He'll be near the back of the grid after taking his power unit penalty.

  • 18:47

    QuoteSergio Pérez: "It was a difficult session with the wind, it has been extremely difficult, in every session the car is changing. It’s been difficult to dial into the set up. Having one set of tyres in Q2, I think that’s the maximum we could get. Happy with the performance I did, but hopefully tomorrow we can get some points."

  • 18:47

    Twelve minutes on the clock, ten teams ready to fight for pace. We're back to normal now!

  • 18:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 18:49

    Daniel Ricciardo heads out of the pit lane first, followed, after a brief pause, by Valtteri Bottas.

  • 18:50

    A couple of minutes gone and nine cars are out on track with just Adrian Sutil remaining in the garage - will he take part in this session at all?

  • 18:53

    Lap times pouring in now, with Valtteri Bottas setting the benchmark of 1:36.9.

  • 18:53

    Ricciardo is second, with Button knocking the Red Bull driver down to third.

  • 18:53

    Felipe Massa joins his teammate towards the top, just about four tenths slower. We're waiting for the Mercedes pair though, of course.

  • 18:53

    Nico Rosberg shaves six tenths of a second of the Williams time, to take P1.

  • 18:54

    Lewis Hamilton pops into second on his first lap of the session, a tenth off Rosberg.

  • 18:54
    Checking data before heading out for the final laps of Qualifying
    Credit: SauberF1Team/Twitter

    @SauberF1Team: Checking data before heading out for the final laps of #Qualifying

  • 18:55

    All drivers back into the pit lane now, as the clock ticks down to five minutes.

  • 18:57

    Ricciardo breaks the silence and heads out first yet again.

  • 18:57

    A minute later and all ten cars are out on track, even Adrian Sutil is getting in on the fun this time.

  • 19:00

    Rosberg starts his final lap, heading up the hill for that tricky first corner and then swinging through the following curves.

  • 19:00

    He's improving on his own time, setting the fastest first and second sector.

  • 19:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 19:01

    Bottas stays third.

  • 19:01

    Rosberg shaves two tenths off his own time.

  • 19:01

    Hamilton can't touch Rosberg's time and remains second.

  • 19:02

    StopwatchPole position for Nico Rosberg with a time of 1:36.067.

  • 19:02
    Gap Analysis
  • 19:03

    Team radioTeam radio from Valtteri Bottas: "Thanks guys, a really good job. Solid qualifying. The big day is tomorrow."

  • 19:05
    Q3 results
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2L HamiltonMercedes
    3V BottasWilliams
    4F MassaWilliams
    5D RicciardoRed Bull
    6F AlonsoFerrari
    7J ButtonMcLaren
    8K MagnussenMcLaren
    9K RäikkönenFerrari
    10A SutilSauber
  • 19:06

    Button will take a five place penalty of course, which drops him out of the top ten and promotes Maldonado into it.

  • 19:11

    That was qualifying then, an interesting enough session although a mostly familiar result. Nico Rosberg pulled it out of the bag, when it seemed as though Hamilton had the pace in his pocket.

  • 19:12

    Not having those two teams was a little disconcerting but didn't really rob us of action, their positions usually being a foregone conclusion.

  • 19:12

    Adrian Sutil put on a great show and is in the best position to try and score Sauber those desperately coveted first points of the season.

  • 19:12

    But that's tomorrow when it is all to play for. A long afternoon of racing awaits the drivers tomorrow, and I'll be back here to cover it lap by lap. Do join me then!

All content in the series USA 2014