Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took pole position for the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, on Saturday as Formula One mourned the death of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz ahead of a race likely to crown his team champions.
Red Bull’s double World champion Max Verstappen will join Spaniard Sainz on the front row for Sunday’s race with the Dutch driver having a strong chance of taking a record-equalling 13th win of the season.
No driver has won at the Circuit of the Americas from outside the front row since the first Grand Prix was held there in 2012.
“Pole position was a long time coming, after a few qualis of getting close but not quite getting there,” said Sainz, who last took the top slot in Belgium at the end of August.
“I think for tomorrow Red Bull are still the favourites and they normally have the better race pace,” he added. “But we are going to try to do everything we can to try to stay ahead tomorrow and win the race.”
The session was overshadowed by news that Austrian billionaire Mateschitz, who owned two of the sport’s 10 teams, had died at the age of 78.
“It has been hard news, I think, for everyone,” said Verstappen.
“It has been a very tough day and we tried, of course, to give it everything today in qualifying. Unfortunately we missed out by a little but…hopefully we will make him proud tomorrow.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was second in the final top 10 shootout but will drop 10 places down the grid due to engine penalties.
Ferrari need to score 19 points more than Red Bull to keep the constructors’ championship alive with three rounds remaining.
Verstappen’s Mexican team mate Sergio Perez qualified fourth but has a five-place grid penalty, moving Mercedes seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton up to third with team mate George Russell fourth.
Canadian Lance Stroll will line up on the third row in fifth for Aston Martin with Lando Norris alongside in the McLaren.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Williams’ Alex Albon filled the fourth row, after Alpine’s Fernando Alonso took a drop, with Perez set to start ninth and Aston Martin’s four times world champion Sebastian Vettel 10th.
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