LEWIS HAMILTON was pipped to pole for the US Grand Prix as title rival Max Verstappen took the front slot on the grid.
Hamilton recovered after a slow start and looked to have taken pole until the Dutchman snatched it from his grasp at the death.
It was the Red Bull man’s eight pole in the last 11 races as he looks to increase his advantage in the title race over Hamilton, which currently stands at six points.
Hamilton, who apologised to his team having missed out on pole by 0.209 seconds, has promised to fight back in today’s race.
He said: “I gave it everything I had. It was a struggle out there but I was happy with the last lap.
“I will now give it everything tomorrow and the mindset is that I want to win the race and give these guys a fight.”
Hamilton, who starts second on the grid behind Verstappen, will have Red Bull’s Sergio Prez breathing down his neck.
And Verstappen is hoping that with Valtteri Bottas starting ninth due to an engine penalty, that he can back on Perez’s support.
He added: “It was quite exciting out there. In the end it was spitting and I was not too sure if I’d hold on to the lap time.
“I guess the start will be what people like to see tomorrow and I hope to have a good start and we work as a team to get the best result possible.”
Charles Leclerc will start in fourth and Calros Sainz will line up in fifth in their Ferraris.
F1’s return to the United States – after last year’s race was scrapped because of the pandemic – has been greeted with spectacular enthusiasm.
A bumper crowd of 120,000 watched qualifying, while 140,000 are expected for Sunday’s race.
Miami will be added to the calendar next season with a third race on American soil – understood to be in Las Vegas – expected for 2023.
A plethora of big names, including Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey, 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and Rory McIlroy will bring star appeal to the race.