Lewis Hamilton at 'fault' in US GP qualifying and now in 'danger zone'
Title-chasing Briton starts fifth, four places behind team-mate Bottas; Watch the US GP live only on Sky Sports on Sunday
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 03/11/19 7:02pm
Lewis Hamilton took responsibility for only qualifying fifth for the US GP - with the Mercedes driver to start in the 'danger zone' for his attempt to clinch his sixth world title on Sunday.
Hamilton qualified on the third row - his worst Q3 result of the season - in a session team-mate and sole title rival Valtteri Bottas impressively held off the Ferraris and Red Bull's Max Verstappen to return Mercedes to the front of the grid after a wait of eight races.
The Englishman has dominated the US GP in Austin, winning five of the seven races held there, but could not find that form to head the grid on Saturday.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton conceded: "Nothing to do with the car, just me. I just didn't pull the laps out together today and clearly the car had the capability to be on the front row and I just didn't do it today.
"It's my fault. But I'll try and rectify it [on Sunday]."
Although left disappointed, fifth on the grid does not particularly reduce Hamilton's chances of becoming world champion for the sixth time in Sunday evening's race, which begins at 7.10pm on Sky Sports F1.
Were Bottas to win from pole, Hamilton would require a maximum of eighth place to settle matters - something he has achieved in all but one race this season.
When's the US Grand Prix on Sky?
The United States GP will be exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend as Lewis Hamilton seeks to win a sixth world championship.
Nonetheless, the five-time champion is certainly a little further back in the pack that he would have liked heading into what is usually one of the most exciting first laps of the season.
"Lewis will know full well that third row of the grid is the danger zone heading up into that first corner," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle.
"It starts wide and then narrows.
"He'll need to stay out of trouble."
Paul Di Resta added: "There could be 10 cars wide at the Apex at Turn One. You know how good the Ferrari's starts are, you know how good their straight-line speed is. Max will be in there, he'll be inch perfect. I'm looking forward to it."
Can Hamilton still win from fifth?
With Mercedes generally still the fastest car in race trim, Hamilton can certainly at least target a strong podium finish from where he starts even if the drivers directly ahead of him - Leclerc, Verstappen and Vettel - will have their own sights set on challenging Bottas for victory.
Hamilton said: "Honestly I'm not trying to think about that right now.
"I'm just trying to digest what's just happened and then I'll move onto [the race] later on."
The dominant driver of the season, with 10 wins and the championship lead since May, Hamilton can certainly not be counted out of the fight.
"Lewis just hasn't looked quite in the zone and the car has looked edgy," said Di Resta. "But like he said, if he had done a perfect lap he would have been on pole but it's just not happened."