2014 U.S. GP Qualifying: Nico Rosberg takes pole position by nearly four tenths
Title-rival Hamilton lines-up second after struggling with brake issue; Williams complete second-row; Sutil makes Q3 for Sauber
By William Esler
Last Updated: 03/11/14 6:16pm
Nico Rosberg took a commanding pole position at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, enjoying a gap of almost four tenths of a second to Lewis Hamilton.
Having seen his team-mate top all three practice sessions and the opening segment of qualifying, the German delivered on his Friday promise of having pace in hand by blasting to his ninth pole of the season. His latest success means he is guaranteed to out-qualify Hamilton over the course of the season.
Rosberg showed the first glimpses of his true pace in Q2 as he topped the timesheets whilst his team-mate complained about his brakes constantly locking up over the radio. It was the first time Rosberg had headed Hamilton all weekend and heaped the pressure on ahead of the the top-ten shootout.
- Rosberg now leads Hamilton 10-7 in qualifying and cannot be beaten
- Tenth front-row lockout for Mercedes in 2014
- Fifth time in last seven races Bottas has qualified third
The German set the pace after the initial runs and found further time on his second set of tyres to extend his advantage over Hamilton who failed to improve, landing the first blow this weekend in the title fight.
"It's been a great day, I'm very happy. With my engineers, I arrived at a car which I was really happy with," said Rosberg.
"The wind was changing so that made it very challenging, it wasn't easy to get everything right. But it's the race which counts and I need to fully focus on tomorrow."
Hamilton, meanwhile, was bedevilled by a brake issue. "Once you lose your confidence on the brakes because you know it is going to lock then you are kind of stuffed," he told Sky Sports F1. "I tried to improve but ultimately I couldn’t get close to Nico.”
Williams were once again best of the rest as they locked out the second row, albeit a long way off the pace of Rosberg.
Aside from Rosberg, the standout performance came from Sauber’s Adrian Sutil who was a surprise Q3 participant. The C33 has been a regular Q1 casualty this season – and indeed his team-mate Esteban Gutierrez made another early exit in Austin. However, the German made it all the way to the final part of qualifying leading to screams of delight over the team radio.
As a result of a penalty for Jenson Button, Sutil's tenth will become ninth for Sunday’s race giving the Swiss squad a great opportunity to score their first points of the season and potentially move ahead of the absent Marussia in the fight for vital Constructors' Championship prize money.
Button outqualified team-mate Kevin Magnussen for the second successive race as he fights for his F1 future. The wind at the Circuit of The Americas had seen the 2009 champion struggle to find a balance he was happy with, but he managed to edge out the Dane and close the deficit in their personal qualifying battle to 8-9. However, Button will drop to 12th when he takes a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
“It is so tricky out here today,” Button told Sky Sports F1. “It is quite windy, it is cool and it is so inconsistent corner to corner, run to run. None of my laps felt that clean, but seventh is okay. It is always a pity when you are half a tenth away from the car in front. I would love to start seventh tomorrow, but it is P12 after our penalty which is always a pity. So I am going to enjoy this moment then tomorrow the hard work starts.”
Pastor Maldonado is another driver who will benefit from that after an impressive display saw him qualify in 11th. That will become tenth on Sunday, which will be the Venezuelan’s highest grid slot since the 2012 United States GP.
Knowing he would start from the pit-lane no matter where he qualified, Sebastian Vettel completed just three laps in Q1 to ensure he complied with the 107% rule and finished 17th quickest. It was the first time since the 2009 Brazilian GP that the German had failed to make it into the second part of qualifying.
He was still quicker than Romain Grosjean, though, with the Frenchman unhappy with his Lotus. The fact that the team told he was out “by a country mile” summed up the difficult day it had been for his side of the garage.