Vettel takes Mexican GP pole as Hamilton inches towards title

Sport360 staff 09:14 29/10/2017
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Pole position: Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton thinks the 220mph charge down to the opening corner of the Mexican Grand Prix holds the key to him winning his fourth world championship in glorious style.

Hamilton will start only third after he was beaten to pole position following a rousing display by rival Sebastian Vettel, who edged out the ever-impressive Max Verstappen.

Hamilton, who leads Vettel by 66 points with just three rounds remaining, needs to finish just fifth to become Britain’s first quadruple world champion.

But the 32-year-old Englishman wants to seal his place in history by taking to the top step of the podium in front of a 135,000-strong capacity crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

The 800-metre dash to the first turn is the longest on the calendar, and Hamilton, who was nearly half-a-second adrift of Vettel in qualifying, has said it represents his best chance of victory.

“I tried to deny Sebastian but it was not to be,” Hamilton said. “It was a difficult session and it has been a difficult weekend.

“Out of all the good qualifying sessions I have had this year it was not at the top of those.

“Overtaking here is very difficult but there is a long way down to turn one so we should have some fun.

The race is going to be very tough, but I hope I remain close if I am not where I want to be after turn one.

“Winning the title is obviously the goal and to do it on Mexican soil would be pretty neat.”

Hamilton has been in blistering form since the summer break, winning five of the six grands prix staged, including a dominant victory in Austin last weekend.

But the British driver has failed to trouble the top of the time sheets this weekend and he has his work cut out to seal his fourth crown in the manner he so desires.

Vettel delivered a dizzying time at a track which is more than 2,300 metres above sea level, to edge out Verstappen by just eight hundredths of a second and claim the 50th pole of his career.

“There is not much point looking at what others are doing and at what Lewis is doing,” Vettel added.

“We need to maximise everything we can and then it depends on Lewis.”

Verstappen, controversially stripped of his podium finish in Austin after he was penalised for an illegal last-lap overtake on Kimi Raikkonen, was in danger of further punishment here for apparently impeding Valtteri Bottas during qualifying. However, no further action was taken by stewards.

Hamilton needs nine points to join Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Vettel as a winner of four or more titles, and to surpass Sir Jackie Stewart – here this weekend – as the only other British driver to have won three.

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