Nico Rosberg heads into Sunday’s United States GP with a slight advantage over Lewis Hamilton having taken pole position, his ninth of the season.
With just three races remaining in the race for the World title there was plenty at stake as the Mercedes team-mates took the track for qualifying.
Despite Hamilton leading the way in all three practice sessions – and comfortably quicker than Rosberg in FP3 – it was the German who came to the fore on Saturday afternoon.
Clocking a 1:36.282 on his first run, 0.161s up on Hamilton, Rosberg held the advantage while the pressure was firmly on Hamilton’s shoulders.
Heading out for a final run, Rosberg was the first of the duo to cross the line, upping his pace to a 1:36.067, with the attention then turning to Hamilton. The Brit, though, was unable to do it and fell short by 0.376s.
Valtteri Bottas was third quickest for Williams, 0.839s down, while Felipe Massa ensured the team locked out the second row of the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.
Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil, who made his first visit to the top ten this season with Sauber, completed the top ten.
Just 18 cars contested Q1 as neither Caterham nor Marussia are in Texas after both teams went into administration last month.
As such qualifying was tweaked with only four drivers dropping out in Q1 and a further four in Q2.
Sebastian Vettel was one of those to be eliminated in the first segment as the Red Bull driver, who was on pole position in the previous two editions of the US GP, did not push very hard given that he will starting the race from the pit lane.
He finished 17th of the 18 runners and was joined on the sidelines by Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean, who was slowest of all.
Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat dropped out in Q2.
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.067
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.443 +0.376
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.906 +0.839
04 Felipe Massa Williams 1:37.205 +1.138
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:37.244 +1.177
06 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.610 +1.543
07 Jenson Button McLaren 1:37.655 +1.588
08 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:37.706 +1.639
09 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.804 +1.737
10 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:38.810 +2.743
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.467
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.554
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:38.598
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:38.699
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:39.250
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:39.555
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:39.621
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:39.679
Pics: Qualifying Day In Austin