Vettel scores 50th pole position in Mexico

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 50th pole position in the sport with  a dramatic qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, knocking Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen off top spot at the end.

Verstappen was quickest on the first runs in Q3 with a one minute, 16.574 seconds, but lapped three-tenths slower on his final attempt.

This allowed Ferrari driver Vettel to snatch pole with a lap of one minute, 16.488 seconds, having been just over a quarter-of-a-second slower on the first runs.

Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for Mercedes after a moment in the Turn 12 right-hander which cost him time in the final sector, meaning the championship leader had to rely on his first-run time.

This put him ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who posted a lap good enough for fourth having had to abandon his first run without setting a time.

This was because of a lockup at Turn 13 after passing the slow Verstappen.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon, with Daniel Ricciardo failing to improve on his final lap and ending up seventh.

The Renault duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr were eighth and ninth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Williams team-mates Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the only drivers among the five eliminated in Q2 to post a lap time.

Massa ended up P11, missing out on a place in Q3 thanks to lapping 0.231 seconds slower than Perez.

Stroll was over a second behind his team-mate in P12, with much of the time lost with a scruffy run through the stadium section late in the lap.

Brendon Hartley, on his second Formula 1 appearance for Toro Rosso, reached Q2 for the first time but ended up P13 thanks to stopping with a loss of power exiting Turn 3 on his first flying lap.

With Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne carrying grid penalties of 35 and 20 position respectively, McLaren opted not to mount a serious assault on Q2 with both drivers completing a token run without attempting a flying lap – leaving them P14 and P15.

Sauber duo Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 and P17 respectively.

Both did three runs in Q1, but Wehrlein was bumped into the dropzone by Vandoorne late on, moments before Ericsson jumped ahead of him.

Wehrlein did not improve on his final lap but still ended up ahead of Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who also both squeezed three runs into Q1.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly did not run in qualifying on his return to Formula 1 action after engine problems struck in final practice.

The 21-year-old already carries at least a 15-place grid penalty thanks to power unit component changes during practice, and completed only 12 laps on his first appearance at Mexico City.

So a fantastic result for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. The last time the Scuderia was on the front row at Mexico was Clay Regazzoni in 1970… Fingers crossed this qualifying result will be the start of Vettel’s championship fight back.

Qualifying positions, Mexican Grand Prix:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m16.488s
2    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m16.574s
3    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m16.934s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m16.958s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m17.238s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India/Mercedes    1m17.437s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m17.447s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m17.466s
9    Carlos Sainz    Renault    1m17.794s
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m17.807s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m18.099s
12    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m19.159s
13    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    –
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.176s
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m19.333s
16    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m19.443s
17    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m19.473s
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    –
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    –
20    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    –

7 thoughts to “Vettel scores 50th pole position in Mexico”

  1. Fernando Alonso believes McLaren had the best chassis of the Formula 1 field during qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard finished Q1 in fifth position after setting the quickest time in the middle sector, before deciding against posting a laptime in Q2 to save tyres.

    Alonso is to start from the back of the grid after receiving a 20-place grid penalty for an engine change.

    The McLaren driver hailed the Mexico weekend as the best for his team so far, but made it clear all the progress was coming from the chassis and not from the Honda engine.

    “The engine is the same,” he said. “In fact, today we have the previous engine. Yesterday we used the new engine but saved it for Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

    “So all the improvements are thanks to the aero and a bit to the suspension parts we’ve brought over the past races. As of today, or at least today, we have the best car.”

    Alonso, who outpaced teammate Stoffel Vandoorne by eight tenths of a second in Q1, still reckons it will be very hard to score points in the race given his starting position and the long straight of the Mexican circuit.

    “The car was handling incredible,” he added. “In the corners it has very good grip and it allows you to drive instinctively and easily. A spectacular weekend up until now.

    “It’s been a while since we set a pink sector. It’s probably the best weekend of the whole season.

    “Unfortunately with the engine penalty we start last, so tomorrow will be almost impossible to score points because on the straight we won’t be able to overtake, but we are preparing 2018 as best as possible.

    “Today, for the first time in three years, we can be pretty sure that we had the best car on track.”


  2. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is convinced that Max Verstappen “wrecked” his lap during quaifying. has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas believes Max Verstappen “wrecked” his first flying lap in Q3 for the Mexican Grand Prix, as the Dutchman faces a stewards’ investigation for the incident.

    Verstappen, who was narrowly beaten to pole position by Sebastian Vettel at the end of the session, backed out of his first attempt in Q3, meaning he was caught by Bottas entering the final stadium section of the lap.

    The Red Bull driver stayed to the left of the track exiting the Turn 12 right-hander that takes the cars into the stadium, but Bottas came very close to making contact with Verstappen as he swept from that side of the track to the right-hand side for the following corner.

    Bottas locked up at the left-hand hairpin that followed, and he abandoned the lap, meaning he only had one attempt to decide his grid position with his second run.

    “I could see before the last sector that he was quite slow,” Bottas told TV crews after qualifying fourth.

    “He was just going slowly at the exit of Turn 12 and compromised my line a little bit for 13, and I had a lock-up there, so it definitely ruined my lap.”

    The Finn added that he had to take slightly more care on his second run to make sure he got a clean lap in, “because I only had one lap before that and that was wrecked”.

    When asked if he felt Verstappen deserved a penalty for impeding him, Bottas said: “I don’t know. It’s not up to me.

    “I don’t know what the rulebook exactly says. What I know is it ruined my lap and I only had one attempt in Q3 instead of two.”

    However, when pushed on the subject again by more TV reporters, he said: “I think so.”

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff declined to say if Verstappen should be punished, but he told Sky Sports the incident “certainly” destroyed Bottas’s lap.

  3. Mexican Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen looked set to become F1’s youngest-ever polesitter in Mexico on Saturday – until the man who still holds that record, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, denied him at the last by just 0.086s around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was third, from Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.

    Verstappen is, however, under another stewards’ investigation, this one for possibly impeding Bottas early in Q3.

    On the third row of the provisional grid for Sunday’s race will be Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Force India’s Esteban Ocon, followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz. In the second Force India, local hero Sergio Perez completed the top ten.

    Hamilton and Bottas headed the times on Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyres in Q1 with 1m 1.518s and 1m 17.578s respectively, but Verstappen and Vettel were close with 1m 17.650s and 1m 17.665s with supersofts.

    Further back, a late improvement by McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne pushed Pascal Wehrlein out of Q2, and his Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson also beat his time, leaving them 16th and 17th on 1m 19.196s and 1m 19.333s. Then came the two Haas cars, with Kevin Magnussen on 1m 19.443s from Romain Grosjean on 1m 19.473s. Pierre Gasly never even ran, as his Toro Rosso’s engine was still being replaced after its problem in FP1.

    Q2 would show the true pecking order, as everyone opted for ultrasofts. Red Bull and Ferrari showed their true colours as Verstappen lapped in 1m 16.524s and Vettel in 1m 16.870s, leaving Hamilton rather breathless on 1m 17.035s.

    Neither Williams made it through to Q3, with Felipe Massa stopping the clocks in 1m 18.099s for 11th and Lance Stroll 12th on 1m 19.159s. It transpired they had no opposition from Toro Rosso, as Brendon Hartley’s engine stopped on his out lap, and neither of the McLarens ran as Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso have heavy grid penalties – 35 and 20 places respectively – for engine changes.

    So Q3 looked certain to be a battle between Verstappen and Vettel, with Mercedes likely to take the second row at best… Interestingly, however, the Red Bull driver had been unhappy about the way in which his front tyres took so long to warm up, so was agitating for a revised strategy if the team were planning single-lap runs in Q3.

    Verstappen set the pace on the first runs in Q3, with 1m 16.524s to Vettel’s 1m 16.833s and Hamilton’s 1m 16.934, but the Dutchman caused a stir by initially going so slowly in the stadium after appearing to abort his first try that Bottas said his lap was ruined as passing the Red Bull caused him to go too deep into Turn 1 and lock up; he thus aborted that lap as well and headed for the pits, so he had no time when others had finished their runs.

    Verstappen failed to improve on two further tries, but Vettel did, snatching the pole away at the last moment with 1m 16.488s.

    Hamilton’s second lap was scruffy, but Bottas jumped up to fourth 1m 16.598s, leaving Raikkonen fifth on 1m 17.238s, Ocon a tremendous sixth on 1m 17.437s and Ricciardo a disappointing seventh with 1m 17.447s. Hulkenberg out-qualified new Renault team mate Sainz, with 1m 17.466s to 1m 17.794s, as crowd favourite Perez completed the top 10 with 1m 17.807s.

    Thus with penalties applied, the provisional grid will line up: Vettel, Verstappen; Hamilton, Bottas; Raikkonen, Ocon; Ricciardo, Hulkenberg; Sainz, Perez; Massa, Stroll; Hartley, Ericsson; Wehrlein, Magnussen; Grosjean, Alonso; Vandoorne, Gasly.

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was left feeling “super annoyed” to miss out on his maiden Formula 1 pole position. has the details.

    Red Bull driver Max Verstappen admits he was “super annoyed” to miss out on his first Formula 1 pole position as he narrowly lost out to Sebastian Vettel in Mexican Grand Prix qualifying.

    Verstappen had comfortably topped Q2 and was a quarter of a second clear after his first representative effort in the final qualifying segment.

    But he couldn’t improve on his second run and was denied by Vettel in the dying seconds of the session, the German going 0.086s quicker.

    “I am super annoyed,” Verstappen conceded after qualifying. “You always try to go for pole position and Q2 was looking really good, in Q3 I couldn’t switch the tyres on and couldn’t go faster.

    “This track is really slippery. For me, the front tyres were not working, a bit of understeer – in this track you need to turn quickly in the low-speed corners.

    “Second is still a good place but after Q2 I had hoped for more.”

    Had he held on to first place, Verstappen would’ve become F1’s youngest-ever pole-sitter, snatching the record from none other than Vettel.

    The Dutchman said: “I gave it all – today [that] wasn’t enough. I really wanted that pole position, but at least we have a good start position.”

    Verstappen’s front row start remains provisional, however, as he is under investigation for having potentially impeded Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas on his first run in Q3.

    Bottas was on his first flying lap in Q3 when he came up on the Dutchman’s slowing Red Bull RB13 on approach to the Turn 13 left-hander, the Finn successfully avoiding Verstappen but locking up on corner entry as a consequence.

    In the aftermath, Bottas hit out at Verstappen for “ruining” his lap, but the Red Bull driver insisted he hadn’t done anything wrong.

    Asked about the Bottas incident, he replied: “Which incident? I was on the inside, he was doing his line, and he locked up – so there is no incident.”

    In response to there being an investigation, Verstappen – who was highly critical of the FIA stewards last weekend after a penalty denied him a United States Grand Prix podium – added: “There can be [an investigation]. But for me there was no incident.”

  5. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo says he feels mystified over his sudden loss of pace after qualifying down in seventh position for the Mexican Grand Prix.

    While his teammate Max Verstappen came within 0.086s of pole position, Ricciardo was almost a second off his pace – and even beaten to a top-six spot by Force India’s Esteban Ocon. He failed to match his own FP3 time by a tenth, and was only 0.019s faster than Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in Q3.

    “I topped practice yesterday, and having the same settings this morning, we were pretty much on P1 pace,” said Ricciardo. “We haven’t touched the car from yesterday to today, up to qualifying, and from the start of the session it was just… nowhere.

    “We tried doing two warm-up laps, one warm-up lap. But it seemed like whatever grip I had when I left the box, I had for the session.

    “We played around a bit with front wing, but the car was numb to anything in qualifying. In the end we couldn’t do anything, I was pretty helpless. We need to understand why. We’re seventh when we’ve been fighting towards the front all weekend.

    “If we get back to the car we had, I think we can still race up to the podium tomorrow. But qualifying was… what’s a word without swearing? We were very confused, annoyed, helpless.”

    When pushed on the cause of the problem, he replied: “It seems like something fundamental and I don’t know now what that is. The feeling was like you don’t have tyre blankets, going out and sliding everywhere, can’t generate the grip you require.

    “Sometimes you get one set of tyres you can’t turn on, so you might lose a bit of time, but every run was the same story, so super, super frustrated, confused. I’m sure we’ll find something, but it doesn’t make the session any easier to go through. We couldn’t really do anything.

    “This morning the track was really cold, and we were still able to hit it on the first lap. So this afternoon [as it was warmer] it should have been a breeze to warm the tyres up and to get them going.

    “That’s where it’s more confusing right now; that doesn’t really explain the problems we had – if anything that should have helped the warm-up.

    “The adrenaline is slowly coming down now. I wasn’t… for sure angry, but just helpless, helpless in that qualifying.”


  6. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admitted he nearly lost control of the car on pole lap. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel has revealed that he nearly blew it on his sensational pole position lap for the Mexican Grand Prix when he briefly lost control of his car.

    The German knew he needed to pull something special out of the bag on his final Q3 effort as Max Verstappen had produced a brilliant first lap in the top 10 shootout.

    But after a purple first sector, Vettel says he had a moment at the tricky second-gear Turn 6 right-hander, which forced him to drop down to first in his bid to recover.

    Luckily for him, he lost very little time and was able to get going again, finishing his lap to steal pole position from Verstappen by just 0.086 seconds.

    Speaking about the effort needed to beat Max Verstappen, Vettel said: “He was very quick in Q2, I don’t know where he pulled that from – we had to stretch all of us.

    “It is difficult out here. The altitude has an effect on the asphalt and its ageing and it makes it slippery – and then he goes four tenths quicker than anybody else. So I thought how do I do that?

    “I thought if I had a clean first sector it would be good, but then I had a moment in Turn 6. I nearly lost the car, and had to go down to first gear, but I managed to get it through there without any time loss.

    “Then I was able to push until the end. After the line I knew it would be close, but I didn’t know what the others were doing. When I heard it was enough it was like an explosion in the car. I had one yesterday with the extinguisher – but today was a real one!”

    Vettel knows that despite his 50th pole position in F1, rival Lewis Hamilton only needs to finish fifth to secure himself the drivers’ world championship.

    Speaking about the approach and how he would feel winning the race where he lost the title, Vettel said: “We don’t need to debate what is the bigger cup. We do our race and there is not much point in looking at what others are doing. The position we are in, we need to maximise our pace.”

  7. The race stewards have cleared Max Verstappen of any punishment involving the possibility of impending Valtteri Bottas during Q3. Meaning the Red Bull driver will start in his original grid position of second. has the details.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has escaped punishment for his run-in with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for Formula 1’s Mexican Grand Prix.

    Bottas came up on a slowing Verstappen on approach to the Turn 13 left-hander on his first flying lap in the final qualifying segment, and locked up on corner entry after avoiding the Red Bull.

    He abandoned the lap and subsequently suggested Verstappen should be penalised for “ruining” his effort.

    However, after the stewards investigated the incident and heard from the Dutchman himself, they decided against taking any further action.

    Their statement read: “The Stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence and radio calls to car 33, and heard from Max Verstappen, the driver of car 33, Valtteri Bottas, the driver of car 77 and the team representatives.

    “The driver of car 33 was clearly aware from the team radio and using his mirrors that car 77 was approaching on a hot lap.

    “He moved from the racing line on the exit of turn 12 to avoid impeding car 77.

    “The driver of car 33 did move slowly from the racing line which could have affected car 77, but the Stewards do not consider this as impeding.”

    Verstappen will thus retain second place on the Mexican GP grid, having narrowly lost pole to Sebastian Vettel in the dying seconds of qualifying, while Bottas himself will start fourth.

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