After the opening runs in Q3, it was Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez who held the slender advantage before Lewis Hamilton eclipsed his time on his final lap. 

Verstappen was briefly knocked down to third but left it late to claim his ninth pole of the season as he eclipsed his teammate and beat Hamilton by 0.209s in a thrilling conclusion to qualifying as drizzle started to fall in Austin. 

“It was a little bit up and down, I would say,” said Verstappen, who set the pace in the first two sessions of qualifying. 

“Just getting to the limit of the car felt a little bit more difficult for me this whole weekend so far, to try and get that last bit out of it. So even in qualifying I had to work up to it. 

“On the mediums actually I felt really good, I think in Q2 that was a good lap and it seemed like it suited me a bit more in terms of driving. 

“Then the first one in Q3 again, it wasn’t perfect. I just couldn’t get the same out of it, in terms of feeling compared to Q2. 

“So then I had to dig deep in Q3 run two and then it even started spitting a little bit on your visor in the last sector, so it wasn’t ideal. 

“But to be on pole of course is great, especially in a weekend so far when it was a bit more difficult to find that last bit.” 

It marked an impressive turnaround by Verstappen and Red Bull, who had trialled its rival Mercedes by almost a full second in Friday’s opening practice session. 

But it was Verstappen who had the final say when it mattered most to take the first non-Mercedes pole at the Circuit of the Americas in the V6 hybrid era. 

“I wasn’t very happy yesterday and of course I wasn’t entirely happy with today but we definitely went into the right direction, so that helped,” he explained. 

“After FP1 I was a bit like ‘oh, okay, it’s quite a big gap’, but then slowly we just improved a bit and today we seemed to jump ahead. Of course that’s a great effort from the whole team. 

“After Turkey I think we weren’t entirely happy with the performance there but of course that’s quite a different track with the tarmac and also feeling as well. 

“At the end of the day are the only thing that are touching the ground are the tyres and they have a lot of different behaviours all year. So if you can find a bit there it can maybe make a bit of difference, also at this track.”