Verstappen takes Mexico pole position as Bottas crashes

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Mexico, Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguezmx

Max Verstappen secured pole position for Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix by going fastest in qualifying at Mexico City. He beat pole favourites Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel while Mercedes's Valtteri Bottas crashed out in the closing seconds of the session.

The first part of qualifying didn't really bring any surprises as all, with those struggling for pace throughout the weekend quickly in the danger zone, and later on quite easily eliminated, despite some late efforts.

Robert Kubica, for instance, was slowest, and nearly 1.5s slower than his teammate George Russel at Williams. The Haas drivers were quicker, but repeated grass-cutting events confirmed they were struggling with their cars, resulting in 17th and 18th, underlining the troubled state in which Haas finds itself recently.

The second session saw many drivers take the medium tyres to set their initial laps. In fact, all 6 cars from the top teams chose those, along with Toro Rosso and McLaren's Carlos Sainz.

Once again, it was Vettel who emerged fastest, improving on Verstappen earlier best by 0.222s and Leclerc by 0.305s. Bottas, who completely ruined his first lap went for a second one to go fourth quickest, topping Hamilton and Albon.

Sainz eventually secured a spot in the top 10 with a lap on softs, as well as Norris and both Toro Rosso drivers.

At the very front, Vettel, Verstappen and Leclerc did do trial runs on softs but backed out of their laps in the final sector. Both Mercedes drivers chose for another run on mediums, in which both improved their earlier times.

Home hero Sergio Perez was out in 11th, along with both Renaults and Alfa Romeos.

When power settings were turned up to the max, and all drivers used new softs, it was suddenly Verstappen who went fastest, beating Leclerc and Vettel thanks to going fastest in the second and third sectors. Hamilton, Albon and Bottas were 4th to 6th after those first all-out flying laps, but 6th placed Bottas was still just 0.428s slower than the pace setter.

Sainz was 7th fastest, and a massive 1.8s down on Verstappen.

The second runs saw both Mercedes go faster in the second sector, but it all ended prematurely when Bottas was a bit enthousiastic to accelerate out of the last corner. He hit the wall with his front left wheel, tearing it off and damaging a whole lot more to the left hand side of the Mercedes W10. With Bottas sidelined, Hamilton, who was just 5s behind him on track, lifted, and therefore didn't improve.

In fact, only Verstappen improved on his final run, securing a slightly unexpected pole position for Red Bull Racing.

What followed was a lot of consternation about Verstappen's behaviour as it was found that the Dutchman did not slow down sufficiently while passing a yellow flag for Bottas's crash. The stewards penalised him with a 3-place grid demotion, requiring him to start from 4th, rather than pole.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:15.9491:16.1361:14.75815
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:16.3641:16.2191:15.02417
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:16.6961:15.9141:15.17017
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:16.4241:15.7211:15.26220
523Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:16.1751:16.5741:15.33618
677Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:17.0621:15.8521:15.33818
755Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:17.0441:16.2671:16.01419
84Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:17.0921:16.4471:16.32220
926Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:17.0411:16.6571:16.46922
1010Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:17.0651:16.6791:16.58622
1111Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:17.4651:16.687-14
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1:17.6081:16.885-14
133Daniel RicciardoRenault1:17.2701:16.933-14
147Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:17.2251:16.967-14
1599Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:17.7941:17.269-14
1618Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:18.065--8
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:18.436--9
188Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:18.599--9
1963George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:18.823--10
2088Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes1:20.179--9