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Title-chasing Lewis Hamilton to start fifth in US as Valtteri Bottas takes pole

Valtteri Bottas secured pole position.

Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of securing the world championship in style suffered a setback in Austin after he qualified only fifth for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas, who has to win here to stand any chance of taking the title fight to Brazil in a fortnight’s time, secured pole position ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen will line up in third, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc fourth on the grid.

Hamilton needs to finish only eighth to be certain of the title that will move him one above Juan Manuel Fangio and within striking range of Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven.

But the 34-year-old British driver will face a tall order to see out the title with his 11th victory of another world championship-winning campaign.

Hamilton, the sport’s fastest man ever over one lap, has only four poles to his name this year, and he was unable to improve that tally here.

He was running down in fifth place ahead of the final runs, but failed to go any quicker and was forced to abort his last lap.

There were no such concerns for Bottas as he saw off Vettel by just 0.012 seconds to take his fifth pole of 2019.

“I am really happy,” said Bottas, who is 74 points behind Hamilton with only 78 available. “It was a nice lap at the beginning of Q3. It is a good feeling.”

Hamilton is notoriously difficult to beat in Austin, having won on five of his last seven visits to America, but here he finished three tenths down on his Mercedes team-mate.

It marked a scruffy session for the five-time world champion, who had earlier irked Verstappen.

Hamilton and Verstappen have been engaged in a war of words since last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, and the duo almost collided here in Q2.

Hamilton moved to his left to overtake the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat at Turn 19, with Verstappen then taking to the grass to avoid the Briton’s Mercedes.

The Dutchman vented his anger at Hamilton in a strongly-worded radio message.

“It is his f****** problem, this, what is happening,” said Verstappen. The stewards noted the accident, but took no further action.

Explaining the incident, Verstappen said: “We were all lining up to do our lap, and I had Daniil in front of me.

“We were slowing down to make space and Lewis drove by like nobody was there, and didn’t care. I was like ‘if you don’t care, neither do I’. Everyone was respecting each other and that is why it was such a close call.”

Hamilton said: “It was nothing. There are no rules that say you have to stay in single file. I kept going and he was trying to race me.”

On his bid to seal title number six, he added: “I am not looking to pull out miracles tomorrow. But I will try to turn a negative into a positive that’s for sure.”

“I didn’t pull the laps out today. The car had the capability to be on the front row. It is my fault but I will try and rectify it tomorrow.”

British teenager Lando Norris was the surprise name at the top of the time chart in Q1. The 19-year-old eventually settling for eighth on the grid, one spot behind Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren.

Alex Albon will line up in sixth place for Red Bull. Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo is ninth on the grid.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina22131247
United StatesUnited States19201352
JapanJapan175830
AustraliaAustralia1331430
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151238
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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