Lewis Hamilton says it was his own personal performance that resulted in him only qualifying fifth at the United States Grand Prix, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas took pole position.
Bottas has to win Sunday’s race to have any hope of keeping the title fight alive heading to the penultimate round in Brazil and secured pole in Austin while Hamilton struggled in Q3. A scruffy first lap was only good enough for fifth on the grid and then Hamilton aborted his second run, admitting he just didn’t put his two attempts together cleanly.
“The first lap started off really well and then I lost time on the exit of Turn 11, then Turn 13, then Turn 14 and it just kept going… I lost I think, I was up I think seven or eighth tenths on my previous lap and then it came down to five and then it went up to six and then it came down to five, so I lost a bunch of time throughout the lap. The next one I clipped the curb into Turn 8 and the lap was done after that.
“Honestly I’m not trying to think about (the title) now I’m just trying to digest what just happened and then I’ll move forwards into tomorrow.”
While he enjoys significant support in the United States, Hamilton says he will not put any extra pressure on himself to try and secure the championship in style at Circuit of the Americas.
“I don’t look at this race as a particularly important race, it’s as important as any other race. So it doesn’t stand out individually as an important race. There’s still two more after this. Naturally I approach it exactly the same, I’m not looking to pull out miracles tomorrow. Things happen for a reason. Today is a lesson learned and I’ll try to see if I can turn a negative into a positive tomorrow that’s for sure.”
A strange incident in Q2 saw Hamilton overtake Max Verstappen in the final sector while preparing to start a timed lap, and then do the same to Daniil Kvyat as Verstappen attempted to fight back, almost resulting in contact. The stewards were happy to let the incident go, and Hamilton feels he did nothing wrong despite criticism from the Dutch driver.
“It was just a nothing thing,” Hamilton said. “I was just trying to keep temperature in my tires, everyone was driving slow so I just kept going. There’s no rules or regulations that say you have to stay in single file, so I kept going. Then he started to try and race me, which was fun.”