Vettel snatches pole away from Verstappen at Mexico

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Mexico, Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguezmx

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in qualifying at Mexico and hence secured pole position for Sunday's race. The German Ferrari driver put in an impressive lap at the very end of the session to take pole away from Verstappen who ended up second fastest. Lewis Hamilton will start from third.

Romain Grosjean was the first to head out on track, predictably on the ultrasoft Pirelli tyres. Lots of drivers followed quickly, and less than a minute later, both Ferraris joined the party as well, even though they chose to use new supersofts.

Once Mercedes completed their first qualifying laps however, the pace was set, with Hamilton topping Bottas. They stayed at the top of the timesheet during Q1 as they opted for the ultrasofts on their runs. Verstappen and Vettel were closest and less than 2 tenths behind, despite using the supersofts.

Fernando Alonso was 5th fastest, also just 2 tenths down on Hamilton. The Spaniard happily noted "Yeah, feels great. The car feels great as well". Perez, Raikkonen and Ricciardo were up next in the ranking in Q1.

Vandoorne and Stroll only just managed to get into Q2 thanks to very late improvements. It came at the cost of both Saubers, both Haas cars and Pierre Gasly. The latter didn't complete a single lap as Toro Rosso were not ready yet after that STR12 suffered another mechanical issue early on in FP3.

Q2 initially appeared to go in the same direction as both Mercedes shot atop the timesheet early on in the session. Vettel though snuck in between them with Raikkonen and Ricciardo going 4th and 5th fastest.

After those times, the session was somewhat interrupted with double waved yellows as he parked his car past Turn 6 due to his engine failing.

Verstappen, who was on a flying lap before that moment, aborted his lap and was first to start another flyer, this time without yellow sections. The Dutchman was very much on the pace and went fastest, half a second quicker than Hamilton.

The closing stages still saw most drivers out on track, even though positions for the top 6 looked firmly set. Vettel did improve somewhat to move up into second, but other than that not much changed. In fact, 20 seconds from the end, positions 11 to 15 were already set. Both Williams went to the pits early, Hartley parked his Toro Rosso earlier on and neither McLaren recorded a timed lap due to the hefty grid penalties they both faced anyway.

Q3 became an interesting affair as Verstappen aborted his first flying lap. He decided to continue slowly and go onto a flyer on the same set of tyres. That slow movement surprised Bottas when he arrived at the stadium. Avoiding action and a subsequent miss of braking point forced Bottas to return to the pits, as he felt the lap wasn't going to bring anything useful anyway. The incident was set to be investigated by the stewards after qualifying.

Hamilton completed his first attempt just behind Verstappen and went fastest until Vettel improved that by another tenth. Verstappen however shaved off another 3 tenths as he completed his flying lap. Ricciardo, who similarly did a slow first timed lap before his real attempt ended up 4th fastest, half a second down on Hamilton and more than 8 tenths down on his pace setting team mate.

Bottas's lap proved a near match for Hamiton, therefore slotting into fourth place. Hamilton and Verstappen failed to improve, but Vettel still found another few tenths to take pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix. It means that if Hamilton wants to seal his World Championship title here tomorrow, he's got some work on his hands.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:17.6651:16.8701:16.48820
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:17.6301:16.5241:16.57419
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:17.5181:17.0351:16.93421
477Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:17.5781:17.1611:16.95817
57Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:18.1481:17.5341:17.23820
631Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:18.3361:17.8271:17.43719
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:18.2081:17.6311:17.44715
827Nico HulkenbergRenault1:18.3221:17.7921:17.46617
955Carlos SainzRenault1:18.4051:17.7531:17.79417
1011Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:18.0201:17.8681:17.80719
1119Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:18.5701:18.099-10
1218Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:18.9021:19.159-11
1328Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:18.683DNF-12
1414Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:17.710DNS-9
152Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:18.578DNS-13
169Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:19.176--9
1794Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:19.333--9
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:19.443--10
198Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:19.473--11

* Q1 107% Time - 1:22.944 Note - Gasly failed to set a time within the Q1 107% requirement, races at stewards' discretion.