Worst qualifying of the season for Mercedes in Austin

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Qualifying for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix (live on NBC from 1pm ET) proved to be difficult for Mercedes as the German team suffered its worst result of the season on a Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton failed to pose much of a challenge to the all-conquering Red Bulls at the front, finishing over one second behind poleman Sebastian Vettel. However, he was satisfied with fifth place, all things considered.

“That was a really tricky session this afternoon so I have to be pleased with fifth place although, of course, I’d rather have been fighting for a position on the first two rows,” Hamilton said after qualifying. “The car was quick out there and I had a good balance but we just couldn’t get the tires to work. I need to have a good start in the race and, if we can achieve that, then there is still a lot to play for.”

For Nico Rosberg though, qualifying was highly disappointing as he could only finish in fourteenth place meaning that he was eliminated in Q2 for the first time since the German Grand Prix.

“I had real problems getting my tires into the right working window today and it’s so disappointing to have not gone through to Q3,” the German driver said. “It was all about finding the right compromise in the conditions which saw very hard tires on a very soft track surface, and we saw a lot of surprises today as a result.

“Tomorrow should be warmer which will improve the situation for us but starting so far back is not ideal. We’ve worked a lot on our race pace so the car should be strong tomorrow and I’ll be pushing really hard to move forward, overtake some guys and score good points.”

Conditions did change between final practice and qualifying, with the wind picking up and the temperature rising before dropping again later on in the session. Therefore, both drivers will be hoping that their race pace is good enough to see them salvage a double-points haul that could prove pivotal in the fight for second place in the constructors’ championship.