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Rosberg takes pole in rain-shortened qualifying

Posted on October 25, 2015

Written by Peter Hubbard

Thanks to the unrelenting rains saturating the Circuit of the Americas track this morning – an abbreviated qualifying session took place for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix. While cars left the pits at 9 a.m. as scheduled, qualifying was shorted to just two segments, instead of the normal three.

Taking the pole position was Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg, who nosed out team mate Lewis Hamilton by just a tenth of a second -- .105 to be exact – finishing at 1:56.824 to Hamilton’s 1:56.929.

For Rosberg, this is his third pole position in as many races and second consecutive P1 grid slot at the Circuit of the Americas. The result marks the 50th Formula One pole position for the Silver Arrows. It also marks the 15th time in 16 races this season the two Mercedes Silver Arrows cars have finished 1-2, atop the grid. Both drivers ran on the Pirelli X-Wet tires, although Rosberg’s has been used in previous weekend practice sessions.

Next came the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. Ricciardo nosed out his team mate by near five tenths – 1:57.969 to 1:58.434.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth with a time of 1:58.596, will be dropped down to 14th on the grid, due to a penalty assessed to his team for using a fifth engine this season, which goes against Formula One racing rules.

So Sauber’s Sergio Perez, a fan favorite with many of his fans from his home country of Mexico attending the race, will move up from sixth to fifth. He finished with a time of 1:59.210. Right next to him on the grid will be Sauber team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who scored a qualifying time of 1:59.333.

Like team mate Vettel, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who finished eighth in qualifying, will be dropped 10 slots down to 18th on the grid. That helps move Williams Felipe Massa from the ninth slot where he finished during Q2, up two grid spots to number the seventh slot, next to Hulkenburg.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen who finished 10th in qualifying with a time of 2:00.199, will also move up two slots into the eighth spot on the grid.

One last penalty was assessed just prior to the race. Valtteri Bottas was given a five-place drop for this afternoon’s Grand Prix race after his gearbox failed during qualifying, which meant his Williams team had to choice but to replace it. The penalty drops him down to 16th on the provisional grid, with team mate Felipe Massa seventh. As a result, G

While many drivers spun off the circuit a time or two, including a dramatic skid by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel where he kissed a retaining fence, the sole driver unable to complete qualifying unscathed was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who crashed attempting to navigate T3 on his second lap around the circuit, and posted the slowest time – at 2:07.304 – so will start at the back of the grid, assuming his garage can get his car ready in time for the race.

“I’m disappointed, obviously. We had shown good pace in the wet during the weekend, but when I arrived to Turn 3 there was so much standing water that I just aquaplaned, lost the car and couldn’t do anything about it,” Said Sainz.

“It’s a shame that it happened at the corner where the wall is the closest to you and I couldn't manage to avoid it. “If not for that, it would have been a simple spin and I would've been able to continue! But this sport is sometimes like this. I'm a rookie and I just need to learn from this mistake, which will make me stronger. I'm very sorry for the guys in the garage, who will now have to work against time and get the car ready for the race. We have the pace to move forward and I hope to reward the team with a good result!

The four drivers qualifying ahead of Sainz at the back of the pack included Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr in the 15th and 16th slot, followed by the Manor Marussia drivers, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens slotted 17th and 19th, with Ferrari’s Raikkonen between them thanks to the engine penalty.

Thanks to penalties assessed faster drivers the five drivers filling the slots from P11 to P15 all move up three spots. So Lotus’ Romain Grojean not sits 10th , McLaren’s Jenson Button in 11th, and Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado in 12th, Vettel moves up to 13th and Ericsson shifts up to 14th.


QUOTES:

ROSBERG:

I'm very happy with that pole - especially as I did my quickest lap on used tires. I wanted to be prepared for Q3 with a new set of full wets, but that opportunity never came up as the rain increased suddenly and they had to abandon the final qualifying session. “It was very tricky out there with a lot of water on the track, so let's see what happens this afternoon with the weather. The car feels very strong and I'm feeling great around here in any conditions, so I really look forward to the race.

HAMILTON:

“It was a generally a good qualifying session for me. I was looking to go out again at the end but then the rain came down heavier and of course Q3 was cancelled altogether. It was wetter at Turn 10 than everywhere else with loads of aquaplaning. We could maybe have gone out and seen if the track would dry up a bit, but it was incredibly tricky out there and you needed to be very sensible in such situations.

The drivers are basically on tip-toes in these conditions and we really just have to try to keep going and bring the car round. I'm happy for the team to get the 1-2 and, as always, qualifying is just the beginning. The race will be long, long battle if the conditions stay like this.”



RICCIARDO:

“During Q1 was looking pretty good. Yeah, we were quite comfortable. But in Q2 there was a little bit more water on the track, and it seemed like we struggled a bit more compared to the Mercedes cars, so they seemed to find a bit more speed. But still, I don’t think it’s too back to finish third on a day like this. It really puts us in a good place for the race. A few of the faster cars qualified further back than perhaps they would have under dry conditions, so I think It’s a good opportunity for us today to try and capitalize on that. I don’t really know what the weather is going to do this afternoon, but I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun when we all start racing.”