Lewis Hamilton explains struggles in qualifying as Max Verstappen on top ahead of US GP

Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button

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Lewis Hamilton admits he was “struggling” in Austin after qualifying second on the grid ahead of the United States Grand Prix, with the seven-time world champion trailing Max Verstappen by six points in the driver standings. Verstappen pipped the seven-time world champion to pole by two tenths around the Circuit of the Americas.

In a thrilling qualifying session, with droplets of rain emerging with seconds left on the clock in the final part of qualifying, Verstappen set a 1:32.910, crossing the line after Hamilton to secure pole position on Sunday.

Hamilton had set the fastest second sector on his final lap, but it wasn’t enough on Saturday to beat the championship leader, with Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez starting third.

Speaking directly after the session, Hamilton said: “I gave it everything today. It’s been a bit of a struggle through qualifying.

“I think from FP1 onwards we kind of fell back a little bit, and those guys [Red Bull] were incredibly quick during qualifying.

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“SO I was happy with my last lap. Of course, there are always areas that we can improve but I think that was pretty much everything we had.”

“So we’ll just worked as hard as we can tomorrow, it’s good positioning for tomorrow so hopefully the good race down into Turn 1.

“Mindset is to win the race and to give these guys the best races, I want to acknowledge the crowd we got here, we’ve got a great crowd this weekend.

“Every time we come to us and we always have this amazing crowd unfortunately really good weather so we’re grateful for it.”

Verstappen crossed the line elated with his team after beating their main title rival in Austin, with Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas starting ninth on the grid after being hit with a five-place grid penalty due to another engine change.

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