Verstappen narrowly holds off Hamilton for U.S. GP pole

Clive Mason - Formula 1 / Formula 1 / Getty

Championship leader Max Verstappen was the fastest in Saturday's qualifying and will start from the pole position in Sunday's United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Verstappen will start alongside his biggest rival, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who ranks second in championship points, just six behind the Red Bull driver.

"I'm not worried about what happens behind me, I just have to focus on myself," Verstappen said when asked about a close battle with Hamilton during practice at the Circuit of the Americas.

It's the seventh time this season that Verstappen and Hamilton will start beside each other on the front row.

The second row will be comprised of Verstappen's Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, who will start third, followed by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in fourth. Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was fourth-fastest, but he was hit with a five-place grid penalty for exceeding engine allocation and will start ninth.

Here's a look at the full grid:

Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.910
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.209
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.224
4 Valtteri Bottas* Mercedes +0.565
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.696
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.882
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +0.898
8 Lando Norris McLaren +0.977
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.208
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +2.008
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine Q2
12 Sebastian Vettel* Aston Martin Q2
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Q2
14 Fernando Alonso* Alpine Q2
15 George Russell* Williams Q2
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Q1
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Q1
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Q1
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Q1
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Q1

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, Alpine's Fernando Alonso, and Williams' George Russell will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid after all three drivers had new engines installed in their cars. Vettel will start 18th, Alonso in 19th, and Russell will start from the rear based on how they ranked in qualifying.

This marks Verstappen's ninth pole of the 2021 season and eighth in his last 11 races.

This also marks the first time Mercedes won't start from pole position in Austin since 2013, when Vettel went fastest in qualifying while representing Red Bull-Renault.

Though Verstappen leads the individual driver standings over Hamilton, Mercedes holds the constructor's lead with 433.5 points over Red Bull's 397.5.

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Verstappen narrowly holds off Hamilton for U.S. GP pole
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