Formula One: Bottas on pole at US Grand Prix, Hamilton starts in fifth

Valtteri Bottas on the track during qualifying for the US grand prix.
Valtteri Bottas on the track during qualifying for the US grand prix.PHOTO: AFP

AUSTIN (AFP) - Valtteri Bottas kept alive his hopes of delaying Lewis Hamilton's sixth drivers' world championship celebrations by claiming pole position with a record lap on Saturday (Nov 2) in qualifying for Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

The Finn, who has to win the race and hope his Mercedes team-mate finishes outside the top eight to keep the championship alive, clocked a best lap in one minute and 32.029 seconds to outpace second-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 0.012 seconds.

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari and Hamilton, who was fifth.

It was the champion-elect's equal worst qualifying of his career on American soil, but he was only three-tenths adrift of his team-mate.

For Bottas, it was a first pole in the United States, his fifth this season and the 11th of his career, his best lap on his first run in Q3 remaining fast enough to put him on the prime starting spot.

Hamilton is now without a pole since the German Grand Prix in July.

"I'm really happy about that and it was a nice lap - and to get those kind of laps on a track like this is a good feeling," said Bottas.

"On my last lap, I was losing grip overall so I am glad nobody improved in the end on the second runs."

Alex Albon was sixth in the second Red Bull ahead of the two McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris with Daniel Ricciardo ninth for Renault and Pierre Gasly 10th for Toro Rosso.