In front of the final segment qualified in Mexico, everything was talked about Max Verstappen would be Formula One’s youngest ever pole-sitter after the Dutch had set a burning pace all weekend around Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. But in the event, his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who claimed P1, secured Red Bull’s first ever-front lockout in the hybrid after 2014 with a scintillating final effort that seemed to come from nowhere.
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History was not done, but it was difficult for anyone to look disappointed, after an exciting pole position shootout that saw six drivers who really turned to pole position. “Thank you legends”, Ricciardo was briefly message to his team after securing the third pole of his career, and the first on a track that was not Monaco.
Finally, Verstappen lost on the youngest boy’s jacket by just 0.026s, on his way out of Lewis Hamilton’s third place rivals and Sebastian Vettel in fourth, as Red Bull capitalized at the searing pace they have shown in Mexico so far to make their main line and their alone for the first time since the 201
3 United States Grand Prix.
The other Mercedes and Ferrari from Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen were fifth and sixth, while Renault also backed the impressive speed they showed on Friday, Nico Hulkenberg takes the best of the rest “in the P7 before team mate Carlos Sainz, while Saubers by Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson will pair up on the fifth line of the grid after claiming ninth and tenth.
Q1 – BOTTAS REMAINS TIME TO MERCED S ON TOP
The drivers drove out on an Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez -track as for the sensitive hypersoft rubber that all runners put their best turns in the first segment were lucky dry and cool.
With the track dramatically developed during the first quarter, Mercedes finally found the top of the timetables and hit Red Bull off Bottas took Hamilton in just 0.093s, while Verstappen was P3, 0.176 seconds, Ricciardo P4 and Sebastian Vettel fifth. For joy a For the Mexican audience, Sergio Perez was the best of the rest in sixth, in front of his own strength India Esteban Ocon in P7 and the second Ferrari by Raikkonen in P8.
Despite the impressive P10, Toro Rosso Brendon Hartley was not a lucky racing driver and went to the lag radio to accuse team mate Pierre Gasly to support him, as tensions in tension seemed to be escalating. Meanwhile, after entering an impressive sixth in Free Practice 3, Sauber Charles Leclerc found himself on the coupon of the drop-out zone in P15. The reason? A lazy look through Turn 11 and a magnificent rescue from Monegasque. Ay caramba indeed …
The autumn lost both cars for the second consecutive year in Mexico, Romain Grosjean P16 while Kevin Magnussen was P18. Between them was McLaren by Stoffel Vandoorne, qualified by Fernando Alonso for the 23rd consecutive race, while the two Williams of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin were P19 and P20 – although Stroll will benefit once when he is shot by Grosjeans three-strike over from Austin, while both will move forward after Gaslys 15-stage case to change power units and his gearbox.
Q2 – FASTEST AS WELL AS TOP RUNNERS GO TO ULTRASOFTS
The most used adjective used to describe the pink hypersoft tires so far this weekend, chose all three top teams Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari to try to get on through Q2 on slower but more durable purple ultrasound.
They also succeeded, which is quite negative to any of the six drivers’ advantage, but means that they will all be able to lock in a more optimized strategy when they start the race on these tires on Sunday afternoon. Max Verstappen led the road with a 1m 15.640s, just 0.004s before Hamilton, Vettel another 0.071s further back.
With that kind of tactic that was not an option to the midfield, it seemed as if there was a split between drivers trying to go to Q3 honor and those aiming at P11, knocking them out of Q2 but giving them the best possible position while having a free tire option for tomorrow.
The man who succeeded was Esteban Ocon, in front of McLaren by Fernando Alonso in P12, the second Force India by Sergio Perez – in his worst ever home-running qualification – in the P13. The two Toro Rossos of Hartley and the still-to-be-punished Gasly were the last two runners in P14 and P15, Gasly did not bother running while Hartley made a mistake on his way into the Foro Sol stadium section in his final round, which means he could not capitalize on his impressive Q1 rate.
The Renault were the two fastest “best of the rest” runners, Hulkenberg before Sainz, the Spanish made it to Q3 for the first time in five races, while the two Saubers of Leclerc and Ericsson rounded the top 10.
Q3 – RICCIARDO STRIKES BACK IN QUALIFYING TO DENY STACK
He had been out-paced by his teammate all weekend in Mexico. But when it came to a break in the third quarter, Ricciardo got the job, Verstappen qualified for the second time in two races on a day when the Dutch – who was fastest after the first Q3 tracks, with Ricciardo only fourth – had probably looked like boys the “youngest ever pole-sitter” title that Vettel claimed for Toro Rosso a decade ago.
It was a sweet result for Australia who has endured a miserable second half of the season that has blighted of mechanical failures – his latest who came to the United States Grand Prix a week ago. But while the blue cars with the yellow nose will have the front row covered in the beginning of Sunday’s competition, all eyes are likely to be on the line immediately behind, as the title challenges Hamilton and Vettel in line with each other. Everyone decides their best times on their opening courses, and each has their Finnish stable mate ready to back them up (or not, as is the case …) directly behind them on the grid. And with Mexico, which has witnessed its fair share of the first round in recent years, it can lead to quite a breakthrough fiesta.
Renault knows Mexico represents its best chance in the last three races to get a strong finish as you try to ward off Haas for fourth place in the championship championship. And the Anglo-French team’s qualification could not have gone much better, because their driver locked out the fourth row of the grid on a day when neither Haas could pull out of Q1.
A decent qualification for Sauber, who continued to use its ever-improved C37 to good effect, took ninth and tenth.
So no massive records broken today – apart from the scrap record, that was what fell with a huge 1,729s. But a real treat for the fans, an increase for Ricciardo’s morale and a scintillating race scenario that is well established for tomorrow.