A Red Bull Racing driver secured pole position but it was not home hero Sergio Perez, despite huge support from the crowd. Instead Verstappen secured pole, being Russell and Hamilton by three tenths of a second. Sergio Perez will start the race from 4th.
Loudly applauded by the Mexican spectators, action in qualifying quickly went underway as the Haas drivers took to the track almost as soon as the light went green. Schumacher set the first lap in 1:32.819 while his teammate Magnussen appeared to have gone for an additional warmup lap given the 12s deficit to his teammate.
Both were easily improved upon by the Williams drivers until Schumacher crossed the line after a second flying lap, this time completing a lap in 1:21.024 and again faster than Magnussen, even though this time just 0.019s. Albon showed moments later that also for them the second lap on softs was the faster one.
Meanwhile many other drivers joined the action. Verstappen soon got on the radio reporting lots of sliding, and just like in FP3 he struggled to maintain grip at the rear through Turn 3. The Dutchman went on to ace the next lap and go fastest in 1:19.222.
Leclerc ended up second at approximately 3 tenths and interestingly, so did Valtteri Bottas with just a single flying lap. With 3 minutes left Hamilton was fourth, followed by Perez, Russell, Ocon, Alonso and Magnussen.
Schumacher briefly shot up to 6th but quickly had this time deleted for exceeding track limits. This sent him back down to 17th, in danger of being eliminated along with the Aston Martins and the Williams. The German however improved to 15th a few moments from the end until Zhou did the same and dropped Schumacher to 16th and out of qualifying.
Then, while nobody was watching and focused on the elimination, Hamilton went back out and recorded the fastest lap, 0.053s faster than Verstappen.
Building on that positive note the Mercedes were among the first to go out on track at the start of Q2. Hamilton kicked it off with a quite fast out lap and was the first to get a timed lap in. His 1:18.552 ended up 0.013s faster than Russell while Verstappen stranded third, nearly 4 tenths slower than Hamilton.
Half a minute later Bottas popped up and went faster than Verstappen, slotting into third and continuing his surprising performance thus far. From 5th on the times were so close that Ocon in 5th was only 0.25s faster than Ricciardo in 10th.
In fact, with 5 minutes left and after everybody had recorded a time Perez was only 12th, risking to be kicked out along with Magnussen, Zhou and the AlphaTauri pairing.
Perez quickly went back out before the more likely suspects for elimination went out on track and with that effort he moved up into a secure third. Many more drivers improved and it was busy on track in the final minutes but Hamilton remained fastest but just 0.008s ahead of Sainz, 0.013s ahead of Russell and 0.014s ahead of Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo narrowly missed Q3 by 0.053s on Alonso while the other McLaren of Lando Norris made it through in 9th, little more than a second up on the Spaniard.
The final part of qualifying saw 9 drivers go out early on while Alonso watched proceedings from the pitlane.
Sergio Perez was the first to cross the finish line and recorded a lap in 1:18.153. It was a solid time but both Mercedes and Verstappen went faster, leaving Perez third behind Verstappen and Russell after Hamilton's time was deleted for track limits at Turn 3.
Sainz, Bottas and Leclerc slotted in behind Perez with Alonso moved into 7th at a moment when the track was somewhat quiet in what turned out to be his only timed lap in Q3. Still it proved enough to beat Ocon.
In front, Verstappen made another improved and beat the Mercedes duo to pole by three tenths. Quite a margin after the millisecond gaps that were seen at the end of Q2. Whether that pole position is so interesting here at Mexico with such a long run to the first corner is another question.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:19.222||1:18.566||1:17.775||16|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:19.706||1:18.615||1:18.128||18|
|6||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:19.523||1:18.762||1:18.401||18|
|8||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:19.857||1:19.119||1:18.721||19|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:20.006||1:19.272||1:18.939||15|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:19.945||1:19.081||1:19.010||18|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:20.279||1:19.325||14|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:20.283||1:19.476||12|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:19.907||1:19.589||13|
|14||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:20.256||1:19.672||15|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:20.293||1:19.833||17|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:20.419||11|
|17||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:20.419||10|
|18||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:20.520||10|
|19||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:20.859||10|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:21.167||10|
Magnussen penalised 5 grid places for use of additional power unit elements.