21 October 2023

Max Verstappen back to his best to claim pole position for sprint race

21 October 2023

Max Verstappen bounced back from his mistake in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix to put his Red Bull on pole position for today’s sprint race.

Verstappen will line up from only sixth place for Sunday’s main event at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas after his quickest lap was chalked off for exceeding track limits here on Friday night.

But less than 24 hours later, the triple world champion atoned for his error to seal top spot ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 0.055 seconds for the 19-lap dash to the chequered flag later today.

“The last lap was not great but we are still on pole so it shows the car is working well,” said Verstappen, with less than a tenth separating the top-three drivers.

“It will be an exciting afternoon with cars close to each other so we don’t know what will happen in the sprint race. Normally in the race we are okay, but this track is demanding.”

Lewis Hamilton finished third, seven hundredths behind Verstappen, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri fourth and fifth respectively for McLaren. George Russell qualified eighth.

It was not all plain-sailing for Verstappen after he spun on the exit of Turn 9 in Q2.

Verstappen took too much kerb on the entry to the left hander which sent him onto the grass and into a pirouette.

But after he completed a 360-degree spin, Verstappen was able to make it back to his garage and into Q3.

Hamilton also survived a hairy moment in the opening phase of qualifying when he nudged the back of Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.

“Check my front wing,” said Hamilton on the radio. “One of the drivers blocked me and we touched.”

Hamilton was able to continue and although the stewards noted the incident, no further action was taken.

Daniel Ricciardo, absent from the last five races with a broken hand, out-qualified Tsunoda to progress to Q2 and finish 11th.

Tsunoda starts 19th, one place ahead of Logan Sargeant who propped up the order for the second day in a row at his home event.

The sprint gets under way at 5pm local time (11pm BST).

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