Event: USA F1 Grand Prix
Track: Circuit of the Americas

Warm-up lap starts at: 14:00 Local | 21:00 CET | 20:00 UK | 12:00 LA | 20:00 Tokio

F1 Starting Grid 2021 USA Grand Prix

Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen did everything right yesterday with the Red Bull RB16B to score his 12th F1 career pole position. The Dutchman will have his F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes right behind him at the start to battle out one of the most exciting championships in a decade.

Verstappen's teammate Sergo Perez will be able to helpout this time being 3rd on the grid and only qualified 0.024s slower than Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas, the teammate of Hamilton will start from P9, after receiving a 5 places grid penalty for getting a new ICE (internal combastion engine) for the 6th time this season. Teams are allowed only 3 engines without getting a penalty this season.

Something might be wrong with the Mercedes ICE, because both other Mercedes power unit user, Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and George Russell in the Williams, also replaced their engine. Vettel and Russell even have to start from the back of the grid, because of that.

F1 Starting Grid 2021 USA GP

Pos No Driver Team Lap Time Pole gap Tyres
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.910 🟡M
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.119 +0.209s 🟡M
3 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:33.134 +0.224s 🟡M
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.606 +0.696s 🟡M
5 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:33.792 +0.882s 🔴S
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:33.808 +0.898s 🟡M
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:33.887 +0.977s 🟡M
8 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:34.118 +1.208s 🟡M
9 77 *Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.475 +0.565s 🟡M
10 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:34.918 +2.008s 🔴S
11 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:35.377 +2.467s Free
12 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:35.794 +2.884s Free
13 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:35.983 +3.073s Free
14 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:35.995 +3.085s Free
15 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:36.311 +3.401s Free
16 47 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:36.499 +3.589s Free
17 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:36.796 +3.886s Free
18 5 *Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:35.500 +2.590s Free
19 14 *Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:44.549 +11.639s Free
20 63 *George Russell Williams 0:00.000 - Free


  • Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes (no.77) 5 place grid penalty, additional power unit element has been used
  • Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin (no.5) Required to start from the back of the starting grid, additional power unit elements have been used.
  • George Russell, Williams (no.63) Required to start from the back of the starting grid, additional power unit elements have been used.
  • Fernando Alonso, Alpine (no.14) Required to start from the back of the starting grid, additional power unit elements have been used.

Possible 2021 US F1 GP Race Strategies

With the high temperatures and high abrasion at COTA, a two-stopper looks optimal tomorrow, especially as the warm weather is expected to remain for the race.

The exact strategy that each driver selects will also obviously depend on the tyres that they have left in their individual allocations, but the fastest way on paper to tackle the 56-lap race involves one stint on the P Zero Red soft or P Zero Yellow medium and two on the P Zero White hard. These two options appear to be very close.

Managing the wear and degradation on the soft tyre is going to be crucial, so those wanting to try a one-stop strategy will only be able to do this using medium and hard, but this appears not to be easy to achieve.
As can be expected at this stage of the season, there are a few drivers starting out of position due to engine change penalties: they might be tempted to fit the hard tyre at the start and run a long first stint to gain track position. However, COTA is a circuit with several overtaking opportunities and a reasonably small pit lane time loss, so the advantage of a one-stop strategy could be slightly less than usual.

F1 Starting Grid 2021 USA Grand Prix

Three things to focus on during the 2021 US GP

  1. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claimed pole position on the soft tyre but he will start the race tomorrow on the medium tyre, with which he set his fastest time in Q2. All the drivers used only the soft in Q1, saving the mediums for later.
  2. Including Hamilton, a total of eight drivers got through Q2 on the medium tyre, meaning that this will be the compound on which they start the race tomorrow. Only Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda set their best Q2 times on the soft, starting from fifth (considering a five-position grid penalty for Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas) and 10th on the grid respectively.
  3. Temperatures remained high today, with qualifying (which started at 4pm local time, two hours later than the race start at 2pm) beginning in 32 degrees centigrade ambient and 36 degrees on track. During the qualifying hour there were some gusts of wind, affecting aerodynamic balance, with gathering rain clouds and slight drizzle in the closing seconds. Possible showers could arrive during the night but the weather is expected to be similar or slightly warmer tomorrow, with the race beginning earlier in the afternoon.

F1 Starting Grid 2021 USA Grand Prix

Mario Isola - Head of F1 & Car Racing: "The medium tyre was favoured by the majority of the top 10 on the grid, as starting on this compound allows more flexibility in terms of strategy. Managing the softs to avoid overheating ­– especially at the rear – is crucial in these warm conditions, and this makes the medium and the hard the key choices for the race. A two-stop strategy is the more likely, with the high speeds and abrasive surfaces here taking a lot out of the tyres. At the same time the relatively low pit stop time loss and number of overtaking opportunities mitigate the advantages of a one-stopper. There are a number of different two-stoppers that are quite closely matched, depending on the race circumstances, so this looks set to be an intense strategic battle."

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5 F1 Fan comments on “F1 Starting Grid 2021 USA Grand Prix

  1. Sonofham

    Another team order for Bottas by ordering an engine component change resulting in a 5 grid penalty to help Hamilton *sick*

    Hamilton can't even win a race on his own with his teammate behind or infront of him in the race unless team orders come into effect!


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