Those boring qualifying sessions we had to endure last season were a distant memory on Saturday. Qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix went down to the last lap of all with Sebastian Vettel pipping Max Verstappen for pole with Lewis Hamilton in third.
Max Verstappen finished fastest in final practice just 0.075 seconds ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton. The British driver didn’t have the easiest of sessions, often struggling for pace in his Mercedes before finally putting together a speedy lap.
Max Verstappen didn’t have a smooth time either. Both of his fastest laps during the session included mistakes at the hairpin in the final stadium section and he’ll need to cut those out in Sunday’s race.
Third fastest was Sebastian Vettel who was only 0.042 seconds behind Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas finished fourth with Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and Kimi Raikkonen sixth. Only 0.404 seconds covered the top six cars.
Not having such a good time was Pierre Gasly in his Toro Rosso. Three practice sessions have seen his car complete just eleven laps and he only lasted one in the final practice session.
He left it late, but Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole in his Ferrari. He’ll be joined on the front row by Max Verstappen with Lewis Hamilton back in third.
It looked as if Verstappen had clinched pole after dominating qualifying. However, he didn’t get a clear run in his final run and Vettel put in one final lap to beat his rival by 0.086secs. For a change, Vettel wasn’t moaning over the radio, this time all he could say was “What a lap.” He has plenty to celebrate as it’s the 50th pole in his career and he plans to go out on the attack on Sunday as he tries to keep his world title hopes alive.
After the problems he had in the USA, Max Verstappen again had a few problems with the race stewards. They investigated him over possibly impeding Bottas in the final part of qualifying but this time the stewards ruled in his favour. He didn’t seem to be impressed with the investigation, saying “Which incident? I was on the inside and he was doing his line and so there is no incident.” He wasn’t in the best of moods having failed to get pole saying he was “super-annoyed.”
Estaban Ocon was sixth with Daniel Ricciardo down in seventh. The Australian was also in a bad mood after recording a time over a second behind his team-mate and said he was “super frustrated and confused” as his car suffered a lack of grip.
It was another strange session for McLaren but we’re all getting used to that. Q1 saw Fernando Alonso record the fifth fastest time but neither he or Stoffel Vandoorne came out for Q2. Both have huge grid-penalties on Sunday so saved their cars for the race. They will have company at the back of the grid. The problems that Pierre Gasly had in final practice meant an engine change and he didn’t even take part in qualifying. His team-mate Brendon Hartley finished 13th but his Toro Rosso also has engine problems, so a penalty is likely.
Lewis Hamilton was 0.446secs off pole and said after qualifying that this final lap could have been a few tenths faster, but he wasn’t going to match the times of the top two. He’s still full of confidence though and is expecting a battle tomorrow when a fifth-place finish will clinch his fourth world title.
The track isn’t perfect for Mercedes but it’s looking good for that fifth-place finish for Hamilton barring mechanical failures. I’ll be back with another blog soon, till then enjoy your racing.