Lewis Hamilton is targeting victory on Sunday at the United States Grand Prix, after qualifying in a superb third place.
Despite having claimed 104 pole positions in his Formula 1 career, qualifying has tended to be Hamilton’s weakness since the new aerodynamic regulations were introduced.
On Friday evening at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) though, he was very much back to his best.
Hamilton progressed to Q3 with ease and had two new sets of Soft tyres at his disposal, a luxury only a few drivers had.
A mistake on his first flying lap in Q3 left him behind Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen; however, his final hot lap was better.
It was enough to jump Verstappen but not enough to beat Leclerc, who also improved on his initial time.
Unfortunately for the seven-time World Champion, Lando Norris set a brilliant final hot lap to claim second on the grid, leaving Hamilton to start from the front of the second row.
The main benefit from this is that Hamilton will start from the clean side of the grid, unlike Norris who’s on the dirty side.
With the 38-year-old having qualified so well, fighting for the win on Sunday is a real possibility, especially as Mercedes are often stronger when it comes to race pace.
That aside, Hamilton is the most successful driver at COTA, where he’s tasted victory five times.
He’s finished on the podium at the least every season since its introduction in 2012, with the only exception being 2013.
Hamilton absolutely loves the circuit and the fans, giving him belief that his first win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix could be on the cards.
“This is right up there with Silverstone,” Hamilton said in his post-qualifying interview in parc ferme. “It really is a legendary layout that I think every driver finds really tricky.
“I’ll give it my best shot for sure and with this crowd I think anything is possible, so we’ll give it a go.”
Hamilton does still have sprint Saturday to navigate ahead of Sunday’s main event, although his strong pace on Friday should give him hope of competing for the leading places.
With Sergio Perez also not having the best of pace so far this weekend, Hamilton has a real chance to severely reduce the Mexican’s advantage in second in the Drivers’ Championship.