Max Verstappen tops incredibly tight United States GP Sprint Shootout

The top drivers were covered by less than a tenth of a second in the final part of the Shootout.

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Max Verstappen topped the Sprint Shootout at the United States GP, leading a top three separated by just a tenth, while Charles Leclerc confirmed his pace around the Circuit of the Americas by qualifying second.

Leclerc was 0.55 seconds behind Verstappen, with Lewis Hamilton trailing the Dutchman by just seven-tenths and praising Mercedes for a much-improved car compared to Friday running.

Lando Norris was fourth, before a drop on the timing sheets to fifth-placed Oscar Piastri, more than a quarter of a second behind his teammate.

Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez both failed to get on par with their teammates and will start the Sprint sixth and seventh, ahead of George Russell who was hamstrung by lacking a new set of soft tyres for SQ3.

It was effectively one-shot qualifying in the final session, and Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten aiming to pick up points in the Sprint later on.

Nine of the ten drivers from Q3 made the final session again, with Esteban Ocon missing out in favour of Albon.

But Daniel Ricciardo was perhaps the biggest standout, qualifying 11th ahead of Fernando Alonso, Ocon, Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu.

Confusion on track

There weren’t any dramatic track limits deletions as in qualifying for the grand prix, but Russell will almost certainly receive a three-place grid penalty for impeding Leclerc at the end of SQ1, who was just two milliseconds behind Verstappen in the first session.

“And Penalty for Mr Russell, thank you”

Leclerc team radio in SQ1

Leclerc was only four 0.004 seconds behind Verstappen in Q1 and then initially trailed him by just a thousandth more in Q3 before the Dutchman’s time was deleted to hand pole position to Ferrari.

Meanwhile Hamilton feared wing damage after he was blocked by Yuki Tsunoda at almost the exact same spot, while the AlphaTauri driver responded with one of his famously explitive-laden outbursts over team radio.

Most of that frustration was borne by Tsunoda failing to set a final lap in the session, meaning he was eliminated alongside Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and the Haas pair.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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