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United States Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc Takes Pole Position for Sunday’s Race

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole position in a tight qualifying session in the United States Grand Prix with Max Verstappen down in sixth.

Leclerc beat McLaren’s Lando Norris by 0.130 seconds with Lewis Hamilton just 0.009s further back in third.

Verstappen went fastest with his final run, despite a mistake at the first corner, but had his lap deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Mercedes’ George Russell were fourth and fifth.

Leclerc prevailed at the end of a dramatic and tense session with a highly impressive performance for Ferrari’s fourth grand prix pole of the year, after his own in Azerbaijan and Carlos Sainz at Monza and on his way to victory in Singapore.

Leclerc also took pole for the sprint races in Belgium and Baku.

Leclerc was fastest in the second session and again on both runs in the final top 10 shootout to cap a strong day and underline his return to form since Ferrari introduced a new floor in Japan two races ago.

He improved by just over 0.1s on his final run to put the pressure on his pursuers.

Leclerc said: “I felt good straight away from the first laps in practice and then the key was to put the laps together in qualifying. It is a surprise for us, we definitely did not expect to be fighting for pole position.

“The first lap was much cleaner. The second one was more: ‘Let’s go for it and see what happens.’ When you do that, you can end up making more mistakes. But I gained more from risks than I [lost] from making small mistakes.”

He explained his step forward since Japan was due to the Suzuka upgrade allowing him to bring the car back towards his preferred set-up.

“The car is very inconsistent,” Leclerc said. “When you have oversteer, you lose a lot of grip and the upgrade was aimed at exactly that and it allowed me to set up the car in a way I prefer.

“I feel a bit more comfortable in the car. There are still a few races left and we need to keep pushing and make improvements.”

Norris felt he had perhaps missed out on pole position.

“I’m happy,” he said. “It’s been a good day. Probably not expected. A good bonus for the whole team.

“There was enough in it to get pole. I know Charles said he made a few mistakes but so did I.”

Hamilton’s performance came after a major upgrade on the Mercedes, which has a new floor on it this weekend.

The seven-time champion is always strong at the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin in Texas and was in the fight throughout.

“This is right up there with Silverstone,” he said. “It really is a legendary layout, every driver loves it.

“Good session for us. Grateful for the improvements the team have made with the car and for us to be this close to McLaren and Ferrari and the Red Bulls is showing just how hard everyone is working.

“This is one of the first upgrades I’ve actually felt over the last two years so that’s a positive. We just need two or three more of this step to put us in super-competitive mood, which I believe the guys can do.”

Russell said he had been “off the pace all day and I don’t really know why” and was pleased to be fifth in the circumstances.

Source : bbc