Red Bull pace concerns Bottas
Mercedes ace Valtteri Bottas admitted that Red Bull had been "stronger than we expected" in qualifying for the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
Bottas was speaking after seeing Max Verstappen claim pole position, with the current standings leader 8/11 to win the race on Sunday and 6/5 to go on and be crowned world champion for the first time.
Verstappen has the edge
Verstappen needed a superb final lap to deny title rival Lewis Hamilton of pole, with the Englishman having to settle for front-row spot in second.
The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez will start in third, with Bottas fourth fastest, but having to start from ninth due to a five-place penalty for changing his engine.
Red Bull had a bit of an upper hand pace-wise, maybe a bit stronger than we expected.Valtteri Bottas
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Bottas, who will leave Mercedes at the end of the season, admitted: "Definitely not the result I was looking for. The first run in Q3 was quite okay, the last sector was not great.
"Tried to have a nice clean lap in the second run but even more locking and understeer in the last sector so lost too much time.
"Red Bull had a bit of an upper hand pace-wise, maybe a bit stronger than we expected."
Hamilton gave his all
Meanwhile, Hamilton - who trails Verstappen by six points heading into the action on Sunday - added: "I gave it everything. It was a bit of a struggle though qualifying.
"From first practice onwards, we fell back a little bit and those (Red Bull) guys were incredibly quick in qualifying.
"I was happy with my last lap. That was pretty much as much as we had."