Nico Rosberg to start from pole position in Austin

Published: Sunday 25th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Nico Rosberg is poised to spoil Lewis Hamilton’s championship coronation in Austin after securing pole position for the United States Grand Prix later on Sunday.

With rain continuing to lash down at the Circuit of the Americas, the top-10 shootout was cancelled meaning the grid will be formed from the times set in Q2.

That means Rosberg has secured his third consecutive pole position ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton with the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in third.

Hamilton needs to outscore Rosberg by two points to seal his third championship here in Austin. Sebastian Vettel, his nearest challenger in the title race, qualified fifth but will be demoted 10 places on the grid after an engine change.

Twenty hours later than billed, qualifying eventually got under way, but it was difficult to see how the conditions had greatly improved from Saturday.

Torrential rain and swirling wind, which had led to the cancellation of two of the four sessions this weekend, continued overnight but the decision was taken to start qualifying as scheduled at 9am.

But with a little over five minutes of the opening 18-minute session gone, the awful conditions claimed its first victim. Carlos Sainz, the Spanish rookie who was airlifted to hospital at the last grand prix in Russia after a high-speed crash in practice, was in the wars again here.

Sainz lost control of his Toro Rosso through turn four before slamming into the tyre barrier. “I crashed, I crashed, sorry, guys,” said Sainz, who unlike a fortnight previously was able to leap out of his cockpit.

His father, the two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz Snr, slammed his fists in frustration at the back of the Toro Rosso garage.

With Sainz’s car out of danger the first phase of qualifying resumed a little over 10 minutes later. With Hamilton, Rosberg and Ricciardo trading best laps at the top of the timesheets, Vettel went off track at turn 10 and nudged the wall on the opposing side of the circuit but was able to continue.

Vettel’s spin set a theme for the remainder of the qualifying session. Hamilton, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen were among a number of drivers to endure hairy moments through that particular section of the track.

With no surprises in Q1, it was Rosberg who would set the pace in Q2 before conditions began to deteriorate once more. Daniil Kvyat described the track as “dangerous” while Vettel added it was “red flag conditions”.

The top-10 shootout was delayed for 10 minutes before race director Charlie Whiting took the decision to abandon the final session.

Kvyat qualified fourth, with the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg sixth and seventh. Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen rounded out the top 10. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were 11th and 14th for McLaren.

Published: Sunday 25th October 2015 by The News Editor

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