Lewis Hamilton hopes his United States Grand Prix doesn’t end at Turn 1 along with Max Verstappen’s, as the pair start alongside each other on Sunday.
Verstappen took pole position ahead of Hamilton, ensuring the two title rivals will start side by side for the first time since the Dutch Grand Prix at the start of September. While that start was clean, the following race in Monza saw the pair collide and both retire, building anticipation for their starting positions at Circuit of The Americas.
“I hope we make it through Turn 1 and have a good race,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think it’s all decided at Turn 1.”
Verstappen says he won’t treat the start any differently to previous races, saying the pair have shown they can also race cleanly in the past.
“(I’ll approach it) like any other race we’ve had so far this season,” Verstappen said. “I think we’ve had a lot of good battles and races already this season, so I think we are all just looking forward to another one.
“We always try, as professionals. I don’t see why we have to keep bringing this up. It’s not like we are the only ones who have touched in the sport. These things happen unfortunately. We are on the front row again and I think everyone is expecting a great race and that’s what we also expect as drivers — we just want to have a really good race.”
The qualifying result is somewhat surprising given how strong Mercedes was in Turkey and its record at COTA in the past, and Hamilton admits he’s at a loss as to why Red Bull was able to pull ahead as the weekend has gone on.
“I don’t really know,” Hamilton said. “It started off good, it felt pretty good through FP1, then bit by bit, they got a little bit faster. I don’t know if we got slower but it’s been a real struggle with the car, compared to when we’re normally here. Part of it is probably overheating the tires, which is affecting I’m sure everyone, but yeah it’s been a challenge.
“Going into qualifying, the first session wasn’t that great. Q1 wasn’t spectacular, but started to improve particularly on the medium tire. The last two runs were pretty good. I think (Red Bull) have just been pretty quick all weekend. We were able to match them or be ahead in FP1 but since then they’ve really pulled a lot.
“You can tell the car is quick, because both of them are up there and putting in some seriously good laps. But we’re in a good position to fight them tomorrow and I hope we can.”