Mexican Grand Prix – Qualifying
It’s been a hectic race weekend and even though we had a different person on pole for Qualifying, we now have Charles Leclerc in the lead.
This is due to Max Verstappen receiving a three-place grid penalty for not slowing down under the yellow flags.
Of course, this will add entertainment to the race ahead and something we’re all looking forward to.
Drivers will be pushing and battling with each other as much as possible – something we see more of during the latter part of the season as many, don’t have too much to lose.
In terms of the Drivers Championship, it’s between the two Mercedes drivers – one of which (Bottas) suffered a big accident at the end of Q3 yesterday.
With the team working on his car overnight – he’ll be back out to race today but how much of a threat will he be to his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton?
Lets see what all the drivers had to say following Qualifying!
Verstappen was sensational in grabbing his second career pole at a track he tends to go so well at however, things made a turn for the worst when he was handed a three-place grid penalty.
Due to not stopping for the yellow flags which were waved when Valtteri Bottas went into the wall.
Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:14.758
“It’s been a very good weekend so far and we have improved in every session. I enjoy driving here but of course everything needs to be working well together to get a good performance which it was today. I’m very happy to get pole and with the recent form of Ferrari I didn’t expect it to be honest but the car was working really well.”
“I have to say a big thank you to the Team because the last three races have been a little more tricky for us but everyone kept pushing hard and never gave up on trying to understand what we could do better. This weekend we really showed that the hard work paid off and we have a very good car. It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race and Ferrari will be very quick tomorrow so tyre life will be important but we have a really good race car so it should be a close fight.”
Alex Albon, 5th, 1:15.336
“Qualifying P5 was not great but not bad either. Considering the crash in FP2 yesterday, I’m quite happy and I think it was a good comeback. We didn’t have many laps in FP3 so I only really had FP1 to learn the track which meant it was going to be difficult coming into qualifying.”
“I’m obviously happy for the Team and Max to get pole but I left a bit on the table on my side. Max proved the car is better than P5 but I’m there fighting with the guys, I would have just liked to be a bit closer, but let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I think it should be a good one and there’s a long run into Turn 1 so anything can happen.”
“Max’s race pace looked very good yesterday and the car is quick so I’ll do some homework tonight and study the data. We saw yesterday that the tyre degradation is really high so let’s see how tomorrow unfolds. I think a lot of tyre management will be needed and hopefully we can make up some positions.”
Ferrari topped the timing sheets in final practice courtesy of Leclerc and looked favourites for pole.
Both drivers made it through Q2 on the medium tyre and looked quick in Q3, but couldn’t match Verstappen through the corners.
Vettel lifted off in his final flying lap due to Valtteri Bottas’s crash but will start on the front-row, while Leclerc was promoted to pole position – after Max Verstappen’s three-place grid penalty.
That made it a record 65th front-row lockout for The Scuderia!
Sebastian Vettel, 3rd, 1:15.170
“I am not entirely happy with today, because I could have had a better result if it had not been for the yellow flags for Bottas’ accident. On the first run I was probably a bit too cautious in sector 2 after a very good first sector, then I lost my rhythm a bit and was too aggressive in the final part of the lap and had a big snap in the last corner.”
“I felt quite confident that I could find more time on my second run, but then the yellow flags came out. That can happen some times. The key tomorrow will be to have a car that works well, to look after the tyres and to choose the right strategy. The top three teams all start on the same tyre, but it will be a very close race.”
Charles Leclerc, 2nd, 1:15.024
“We knew that our competitors would be strong this weekend. After FP3, we realized that we might have a shot at pole but when they put it all together in qualifying today they were just too quick. Even if I did a lap that I was quite happy with on my first run in Q3, I was still a tenth behind Max so I tried to go out with a different setup for the last lap.”
“Unfortunately, I ended up having some oversteer and lost time, especially in the last sector.
It is a bit of an odd situation starting from pole now after finishing qualifying in second, but our approach will stay the same. It will be very important to retain the lead after the start.”
“The one who is first after turn 3 will have a huge plus because cooling is a big factor for everyone here, putting the following car at a disadvantage. The straight to turn 1 is very long, so I will have to try to capitalize on our straight line speed there. I will give it my all and hope to have an exciting race tomorrow.”
The big question today was could Mercedes find the pace to stay with the Ferraris and Red Bulls when it mattered?
With Bottas crashing on his final run – he ended his qualifying session and luckily walked away unhurt.
Lewis Hamilton moved up to P3 following Max Verstappen’s penalty with Leclerc starting the race on pole.
Lewis Hamilton, 4th, 1:15.262
“We knew coming to Mexico that this track would be difficult for us. I gave it everything today and I think I managed to extract the maximum from the car, but it simply wasn’t enough for pole. I think third place was maybe possible, but not more.”
“P4 (now P3) still puts us in a good fighting position for Sunday and I hope I get a good start. This race is always a hard one for us and I don’t anticipate it to be easy tomorrow. Maybe we’ll do the rain dance tonight for a wet track which could spice things up a little bit. But it’s going to be a real hard challenge, the Red Bulls were fastest in the long runs, so it will be very hard to keep up with them.”
“There won’t be a huge amount of strategic variation, but it will be interesting to see whose tyres last long – that’ll be the name of the game. We’ll try to hold on to the top players, the Red Bulls and Ferraris, and I’m looking forward to that fight.”
Valtteri Bottas, 6th, 1:15.338
“That was obviously not an ideal end to a day that was otherwise going okay. The car felt better today, we made some progress with the set-up. I was happier with the stability of the car today and could push it harder. Qualifying was pretty straightforward, we set the fastest time in Q2 on the Mediums as we planned and the performance on those tyres seemed good.”
“I knew that I had to risk it in the last run of Q3 to gain positions, so I tried to squeeze everything out of the car. The lap was good until the last corner where I went a bit wide on the exit on the dusty part of the track and that’s where I lost it and hit the wall. I’m all okay, but I’ve unfortunately given the boys in the garage some extra work to do tonight.”
“Hopefully we can avoid taking any penalties for tomorrow. It’s annoying because looking at the times, I think I had a chance at qualifying third. But it’s a new day tomorrow and it’ll be a very different story where tyre management will be crucial. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, but we will for sure give it everything.”
Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:16.014
“It’s been a good day for us. The fact that I gave it a go on the Medium tyre in Q2 is a sign that we are on the right path and it just shows the confidence that we have in the car.”
“Without the traffic in sector 3, I would have been close to the cut, but risking Q3 with a second run on the Medium was a bit unnecessary given the pace I knew I had on the Soft.
“Anyway, another final good lap means I start behind the top teams tomorrow and that gives us a good fighting position.”
“We will have to manage the tyres carefully but I’m very happy with today’s result. I’m proud of the whole team and of how we keep on pushing. Hopefully tomorrow we can finish it off.”
Lando Norris, 8th, 1:16.322
“I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I struggled this weekend in terms of just not having a great feeling in the car. Finished up P8 and I don’t think it could have been much better than that with Carlos in P7.
“The team here in Mexico and the guys back at the factory have done a great job. Now we focus on tomorrow. My aim is for a good start and to have a clean race and try to grab some points.”
Nico Hulkenberg, 12th, 1:16.885
“Given the circumstances, we’ll take twelfth on the grid. It was difficult to prepare for qualifying without the morning run, so it was a bit of a cold start for us.”
“The mechanics did a great job to prepare the car in time so credit to them for their effort. I think we have a race on our hands tomorrow, especially as we have a free choice of tyres and some flexibility on strategy.”
“It might work in our favour as our race pace has looked good recently.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 13th, 1:16.933
“It’s frustrating not to have finished higher up, but I just couldn’t execute it today.”
“Firstly, the team did an awesome job to get ourselves out of a difficult situation. It wasn’t easy out there, but we made a good start in Q1, which was relatively smooth, but Q2 was just a bit messy.”
“We’ll try and bounce back tomorrow. I’m sure to be feeling fired up.”
Kimi Raikkonen, 14th, 1:16.967
“P14 is not what we wanted but that’s how it is. The margin to finishing in a higher position wasn’t big: it’s disappointing as the car has been pretty ok all weekend and we looked more competitive in the earlier sessions.”
“We’ll have to see how it goes tomorrow: we have the chance to start with a different tyre to some of the cars in front of us, so hopefully we can make it work in our favour.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th, 1:17.269
“It was a difficult qualifying for us. I did a mistake in the final sector and that cost me a few tenths, but I don’t think it would have changed much in the end. Tomorrow will not be an easy race, but we have to look at the opportunities we can get.”
“Degradation will be high, especially for those starting on softs, so choosing our own starting compound is the one positive of our qualifying position. Finding the right strategy and managing the tyres will be important if we are to make up some ground.”