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Pole in Austin for Leclerc – Verstappen is only sixth

Pole in Austin for Leclerc – Verstappen is only sixth

Ferrari star Charles Leclerc took a surprise pole position in the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday (9pm, live on ServusTV).

In addition to Leclerc, McLaren driver Lando Norris will race from second place on the starting grid. World champion Max Verstappen was forced to settle for sixth place after a driving error in qualifying. The Red Bull driver beat Leclerc’s best time by five thousandths, but because he exceeded the track limit, the time was disqualified.

Leclerc, who has already started from pole in Azerbaijan and Belgium, was 13 hundredths faster than Norris on his fastest lap. He was followed by Austin record winner Lewis Hamilton (5 wins) in a Mercedes and Carlos Sainz in a second Ferrari in third and fourth. George Russell (Mercedes) also put in a dominant season lead.

Front row is a good omen

After his early World Cup win in Qatar, Verstappen was actually aiming for his 50th win in Texas. Implementation has now become a daunting task. In all eleven grands prix at Austin to date, the winner has come from the front row of the grid. “We have to bring the statistics down to the point of absurdity,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said in an interview with ServusTV. He was confident of catching up. “Sunday it should get warmer and tire wear will take a toll. That has always been a strength for us.”

Race in the witching hour

Verstappen, the winner in Austin in 2021 and 2022, was previously quickest again in the single practice session, but he did not dominate as he has done so often this season. “The road is partly filled artificially. “The bumps have become stronger and they seem to have hurt us the most,” Marko explained. “We couldn’t drive at the height we initially planned.” Before the main race at the Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 holds the fifth race Of the six races this season on Sunday evening (from 12 a.m./ServusTV).

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Sergio Pérez avoided going out in the second quarter with a two-hundredth and then finished ninth. The Mexican must defend his 30-point gap over chaser Hamilton to secure his place in the Red Bull cockpit. Perez had previously hoped he could turn the situation around in Austin and his home race in Mexico next week, but in the crucial qualifying segment he was actually “in the way” of Verstappen, as Marko admitted.

“It will be a tough race.”

Styria reported a communication error. In the second sprint, Verstappen himself made a mistake when he braked and then later when he took an illegal shortcut in turn 19 into what should have been first place. “The cars in front of him are all strong opposition. Marko predicted it would be a tough race.

In the Constructors’ Championship, McLaren can aim for fourth place because Aston Martin is stuck in Q1 with both drivers. Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll defend 11 points for resurgent McLaren. The struggle for second place has also intensified recently. Mercedes, which came to Texas with the latest update of the year (bottom), currently has a 28-point lead over Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo (AlphaTauri), who missed five races due to a broken metatarsal, finished 15th in his return.