- It is rare that the expectation of a close fight for the pole was fulfilled like on this Saturday in Austin. It is probably thanks to a very diverse track (with not a lot of straights), three different cars were within a tenth of each other, and Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen seemed to be equally confident in the interviews after qualifying, happy with their respective efforts. Just 0.292 seconds covered the top five in qualifying.

- On paper, though, Mercedes has got the edge, mostly thanks to their performance in the slow and medium-speed corners. Plus, Ferrari does not seem to have the same advantage on the straights - the GPS showed something around 0.4s, whereas the gap even to Mercedes would be 0.8s to 1s in qualy at some tracks.

- No wonder some rumours started to go through the paddock questioning if Ferrari had been forced to make changes following the FIA's technical directive issued after a request from Red Bull following months of speculation about the Ferrari power unit.

- It would be a very appropriate time for their rivals to question them as, with the 2021 rules signed, they don’t have to be 'friends' anymore. By the way, the word in the paddock is that Toto Wolff is mad about Mattia Binotto because the Ferrari boss has already signed the contract with FOM. He wanted more time to negotiate a better deal.

- In Lewis Hamilton’s camp, it was one of those days with short answers following a weak qualifying. Not a good day, then, for F1 to try something new and get comedian and TV host Trevor Noah to the pen. Not even seeing his South African pal has cheered Lewis up. The Brit kept repeating his mantra for Saturdays like this: “I’ll try to turn this negative day into a positive one”. And he usually succeeds.

- Speaking of South Africans, there wasn’t too much of a clash after around 20 English journos joined McLaren at the Hilton Hotel to watch the Rugby World Cup final in the middle of the night. There were some red poppies being worn in the paddock after the defeat but, luckily for the English, the only South African journalist in the paddock is not so enthusiastic about the sport.

- Coming back to the track action, one interesting details the drivers shared after qualy was the change of wind direction from Friday to Saturday, which benefited some cars, especially the McLarens. But the wind is supposed to change again for the race, so that is not good news for Sainz and Norris.

- Together with Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon, they are starting with the softs and should suffer in the first few laps. It's known that the end of the starting on the Q2 tyres rule has gone through voting a few times in the past few months, but the big teams have always blocked a change. So it was surprising to hear from Gasly that “they are changing it for next year”. That would definitely be a step towards bringing more equality to the sport.

 

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