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Advantage Red Bull as Verstappen takes pole in US Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen took pole position for the US Grand Prix in Austin with title rival Lewis Hamilton alongside on the front row for Mercedes.

The pole was the ninth of the season for Verstappen, who leads seven-times world champion Hamilton by six points with six races remaining, and set up a potential wheel-to-wheel battle.

The winner in Austin has always come from the front row since the first grand prix at the Circuit of the Americas in 2012, and Verstappen was the first non-Mercedes driver to take pole since the start of the V6 turbo hybrid era in 2014.

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“It started drizzling at the end of my lap and I wasn’t sure I was going to hang on to it but it’s great to get pole,” Verstappen, whose lap of one minute 32.910 seconds was 0.209 faster than Hamilton’s best, said.

Britain’s Hamilton, a five times winner in Austin, said he was happy with his lap but “I think that was pretty much everything we had”.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez had been eyeing the first pole position of his career after setting the pace in practice but ended up third on the grid.

The Mexican, heavily supported by the 120,000 strong crowd who sent out a roar when he went top, was fastest after the initial flying laps were done but he could not make it stick as first Hamilton and then Verstappen went quicker.

Perez will be joined on the second row by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth but drops to ninth after a grid penalty for exceeding his season’s engine allocation.

The third row will be Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo followed by the Australian’s team mate Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

Reuters

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