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Hamilton makes more F1 qualifying history at COTA, breaks front-row record

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Lewis Hamilton’s charge to pole position for the United States Grand Prix on Saturday may have been crucial in his bid for a fourth Formula 1 world championship in 2017, but it also saw him make yet more history in the sport’s qualifying record books.

Hamilton edged out title rival Sebastian Vettel by two-tenths of a second in Q3 to claim his 72nd F1 pole, extending his lead in the all-time record books.

Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 F1 poles at the Italian Grand Prix in September, and shows few signs of slowing down in a push that could see him reach triple-figures before his career is over.

However, another F1 qualifying record fell Hamilton’s way on Saturday in Austin, with the Briton taking his 117th front-row start in F1, moving clear of Schumacher’s tally of 116.

Hamilton has broken Schumacher’s record in 85 fewer races, with the German’s final front-row start coming at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix, also with Mercedes.

Most front-row starts in Formula 1

1. Lewis Hamilton 117
2. Michael Schumacher 116
3. Ayrton Senna 87
4. Alain Prost 86
5. Sebastian Vettel 82
6. Nico Rosberg 60
7. Nigel Mansell 56
8= Juan Manuel Fangio 48
8= Jim Clark 48
10. Damon Hill 47

“I feel fantastic. I feel very fresh and happy and naturally always wish that qualifying would go longer because it’s the most fun session of the weekend,” Hamilton said after the session.

“In general, very happy with all of qualifying. The last was not spectacular but up until then generally very, very strong.

“The team have done an exceptional job all weekend in filtering all of the data that we’ve got to really put the car in the right place and enable me, again, have the opportunity to exploit that.”

Hamilton will go in search of his sixth United States Grand Prix victory at COTA on Sunday and could be crowned world champion if results go his way.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”