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F1 US GP: Hamilton lays down gauntlet with US GP pole

Lewis Hamilton finds his best form to snatch pole position from Nico Rosberg for the United States Grand Prix; Daniel Ricciardo third.
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Lewis Hamilton will start the United States Grand Prix from pole position after defeating title rival Nico Rosberg in a breathless qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas.

Though he has won from second position on the grid for the last two seasons, Hamilton nonetheless came into qualifying seeking at least the psychological edge over his Mercedes team-mate as he bids to keep himself in contention for a title battle very much erring in Rosberg's favour.

And so it proved, Hamilton and Rosberg fairly evenly matched during their first runs, only for Hamilton to take another three tenths off his benchmark on his second and final run.

Indeed, though Rosberg had gone onto provisional pole moments earlier with a 1min 35.215s lap, Hamilton's superb final effort would see him stop the clock at 1min 34.999s, his two tenths margin made up largely through the sector one alone.

Another front row lock-out for Mercedes, Red Bull found itself within a good range of Mercedes ahead of the race with Daniel Ricciardo getting the edge over his team-mate Max Verstappen in their fight for third.

Significantly though, Ricciardo will start the race on super-soft tyres in an alternative strategic move to Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen, who all managed to reach Q3 on the more favourable soft rubber.

Ferrari took up its familiar position on row three, with Kimi Raikkonen again getting the better of Sebastian Vettel, the pair more than a second down on the top spot as they face a challenge to get amongst the podium fight.

Only three tenths off a spot on row three, soon-to-be Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg will start seventh for Force India, ahead of Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, while Carlos Sainz was an impressive tenth despite barely managing a lap in FP3 following two separate punctures.

Unable to match his Force India team-mate, Sergio Perez was the highest-profile casualty in Q2 after being caught out by Massa and Sainz's late improvements to leave him 11th, with Fernando Alonso joining him on the sixth row in the best of the McLarens, albeit not before complaining about the straight-line speed of his Honda-powered car.

Fresh from the announcement he will stay with Toro Rosso next year, Daniil Kvyat fell short of his team-mate en route to 13th position, while Esteban Gutierrez, Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson got Haas, Renault and Sauber up into Q2 to take up 14th, 15th and 16th.

Palmer's spot in came at the expense of Jenson Button, who would encounter the Renault driver building up to his own fast lap at the last turn just as the former champion was completing his. Though Palmer would get an apology from his own engineer for failing to alert him of Button's approach, the distraction potentially had the unintentionally welcome effect of keeping the Renault driver out of the drop zone and leave the McLaren man out of Q1 in 19th.

Joining him on the sidelines was Romain Grosjean in 17th, out-performed by his team-mate on Haas' home ground, and Kevin Magnussen, who too was out-qualified by his less experienced team-mate in 18th. Completing the grid, Pascal Wehrlein recovered from his FP3 spin to get ahead of Felipe Nasr and Esteban Ocon in 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively.



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