Lewis Hamilton hailed his pole lap at the United States Grand Prix as "perfection" as he prepares to start his bid to take out a fifth world title from the perfect spot at the Circuit of the Americas. Sebastian Vettel was just six hundredths off the Mercedes to go second-fastest, but will start fifth due to a grid penalty.
A thrilling Saturday battle was played out in Austin, Texas, with Ferrari suddenly regaining the pace that had seemingly deserted them in Singapore, Russia and Japan.
Both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were within a tenth of Hamilton's one minute 32.237 seconds, but neither could better the Mercedes' lap-record effort at COTA.
Raikkonen will start the race alongside Hamilton with quicker tyres on as Ferrari try to disrupt any title parade and the Briton revelled in getting the better of the red cars on Saturday.
Pole! That one was very important, it was close out there. We move forward to tomorrow where we’ll give it everything that we have ???????? @MercedesAMGF1 #Pole #USGP #TeamLH pic.twitter.com/89AN7GHBAy — Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 20, 2018
Hamilton said: "I knew it was going to take perfection and neat laps to take them.
"The first lap was good, but being that I was less than one tenth ahead I knew the next lap these guys would improve also so there was no room for error.
"Considering there's been some Q3s in the past races where I have had to bail out the second one as it was not good enough, I was very strict with myself today, to pull through the second lap.
"The approach for us has been very sturdy, we've not been getting ahead of ourselves.
"I'm so happy. It was a different feeling today coming in. I don't know why.
"I don't know if I slept longer or what but I was in a different headspace going into qualifying which is weird, but it was a good one."