Texas: Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes grabbed pole position in the qualifying tournament of the US Grand Prix.
Hamilton on Saturday clocked a fastest lap time of 1 minute 33.108 seconds to edge Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 0.239 seconds for his 72nd career pole, reports Xinhua news agency.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
In the drivers’ standings, Hamilton leads on 306 points, 59 more than second-placed Vettel. Hamilton will seal the title in Sunday’s race if he can win and Vettel fails to finish in the top five.
“The team has done a great job, the track was very difficult with the wind picking up,” Hamilton said.
“But I love this track and it is such a fantastic track to drive. It is always hot in the car, it is just the right temperature in qualifying. It is going to be a great race, a tough one, but I’m the best prepared I can be.”
The Briton also said that he’s not expecting to win the yearending title in Austin on Sunday, adding that he expects the battle for the 2017 drivers’ crown to go down to the wire.
“It’s a bit like a game of chess,” the Briton said. “Obviously right now it’s checkmate but there’s still a long, long way to go,” said Hamilton.
“There’s still a hundred points available. Sebastian and his team are going to be working as hard as they can, as are we. Who knows? It’s going to go to the wire I still think.
“In the next four races, I think Ferrari is going to give it a great shot and I’m going to do my utmost to try and defend.
“I want to win these races, that’s what I’m working towards. In winning races, points come and championships are won so that’s what I’m here to do.
Vettel, the four-time F1 champion, will be desperate to push for the win with just four races to go this season.
“I was happy in the end with the car,” Vettel said. “We lacked the rhythm in the first sector going into the second, but came good when it mattered.”
“It would be good to win the other races as well as this one, but we’ll take each day as it comes.”