Rounding up all of the additional news and notes from the Circuit of The Americas on Saturday, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook.

- Lewis Hamilton continued his dominant record at the Circuit of The Americas by sweeping to his third straight pole position at the circuit on Saturday, edging out title rival Sebastian Vettel by 0.061 seconds in Q3. It marked Hamilton’s ninth pole of the season, a figure that cannot be beaten before the end of the year.

- Hamilton heads into Sunday’s race having been defeated just once on American soil. After winning his first United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2007, Hamilton’s only defeat at COTA came in 2013 at the hands of Vettel.

- Victory for Hamilton will mean Vettel must finish second to keep the title race alive to Mexico. Vettel will drop to fifth place on the starting grid as a result of his penalty for failing to slow for a red flag in practice on Friday.

- Vettel is the only driver currently with a penalty, with both Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon avoiding penalties despite being investigated for going too slowly on their in-laps at the end of Q3. Were Bottas to receive a grid drop, this would lift Vettel to P4 behind Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.

- Tomorrow is set to be Kimi Raikkonen’s first start on the front row of the grid for the United States Grand Prix for the first time since 2003. Raikkonen did qualify second for the race in 2005, but did not start due to the withdrawal of the Michelin runners.

- Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and Ricciardo will all start Sunday’s race on Supersofts after using the compound through Q2. Raikkonen opted to run with the faster Ultrasoft tyre in the session, giving him a theoretical pace advantage at the start of tomorrow’s race.

- Ocon managed to qualify as the best of the midfield runners at COTA in sixth place, breaching the third row of the grid as a result of Max Verstappen’s suspension failure. Verstappen called the incident “weird” after sustaining the damage when he hit the kerb at the exit of Turn 15.

- Verstappen is expected to take an additional grid penalty for Sunday’s race that would see him fall behind the Toro Rosso drivers, both of whom are currently due to start at the back after their power unit changes earlier in the weekend.

- Charles Leclerc managed to reach Q3 for the fifth time this season, but went two-tenths of a second slower in the final session than he did in Q2. Leclerc will start ninth on Sunday for Sauber.

- Brendon Hartley’s fresh power unit was confirmed by the FIA in its bulletin at the start of FP3, following the move taken by Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly on Friday. Hartley said the move was made one day later just to give a bit more mileage.

- Gasly had run with an updated front wing through practice, but this was removed for FP3 to give him a package that was closer to Hartley’s.

- Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was (inevitably) asked about team orders on Saturday following qualifying, and said he was keeping “all options open” for the race on Sunday. Bottas is due to start P3, and is still hunting for his first win in 2018.

- A number of IndyCar drivers were present in the paddock at COTA on Saturday, including 2016 Indy 500 winner and former Manor F1 driver Alexander Rossi, Conor Daly and Marco Andretti.

- Fernando Alonso’s plans for 2019 were once again a talking point, with the Spaniard revealing he decided quite early on this year that he did not want to do a full season in IndyCar, long before McLaren’s own decision not to contest a programme there-

 -McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown also confirmed the team is “highly unlikely” to pursue an entry to the FIA World Endurance Championship for the new hypercar-led class, starting in 2020. McLaren remains part of discussions to form the new regulations with the ACO and the WEC though.

 

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