Max Verstappen claimed only his second pole of the 2019 season – and his career – when he beat the two Ferrari’s to the front of the grid at the Mexico Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Dutchman was extremely quick through the second sector and clocked a time of 1:14.758. Charles Leclerc was second fastest, 0.266 seconds slower than Verstappen while Sebastian Vettel was just behind, 0.412 seconds adrift of the pole-sitter.
Qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez came to a crashing halt though when Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes ended up in the wall during the final run.
The Flying Finn got over the kerb and lost control in the final sector, catching the end of the Tecpro barrier, ending the session prematurely.
Bottas’ first run was enough to secure sixth place while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start on the second row in fourth followed by Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris impressed with seventh and eighth grid positions locked down as did Torro Rosso pair Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly who rounded off the top 10.
Home favourite Sergio Perez missed out on making it into Q3 by eight milliseconds but Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll again failed to get out of Q1.
It was a disappointing day for Haas with both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean unable to advance past Q1.
Verstappen set a new track record, beating the time clocked by former Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by 0.001 seconds.
The Dutchman has won the previous two races at this track and will be keen on making it a hat-trick on Sunday.
The Mexico GP has now served up a new pole-sitter for a sixth consecutive year.
There was some controversy at the end though as his fastest time was set while passing yellow flags on account of Bottas’ crash.
Reportedly, the physical flags were waving to Verstappen’s left in the final sector but may not have appeared on the digital board yet.
For going fasted under yellow flags, the 22-year-old risked being stripped of pole position.
FERRARI’S POLE STREAK
After taking pole in every race since the summer break, Ferrari were favourites to start from the front again. Chasing their sixth consecutive pole position though, they were pipped to the line by Verstappen in his Red Bull.
The Prancing Horse certainly has the advantage where straight line speed is concerned and were unbeatable in sector one that features two long straights.
However, the scarlet red cars did struggle in sector two for balance with adjustments on the final run even seeing Leclerc going off track and therefore unable to improve his time.
STORY AT MERCEDES
Mercedes were always expected to struggle in Mexico. The lack of airflow over the car due to the high altitude affects the Silver Arrows while they also tend to struggle with cooling issues at this circuit.
Hamilton still managed to fight his car on the track and better Albon’s time. The Englishman will be looking to secure the Drivers’ Championship on Sunday but even with Bottas’ crash, that appears unlikely.
The five-time world champion will need his team-mate to finish outside the points to have a chance of sealing the title this weekend.
That ending to Quali... 😮😮😮 @LewisHamilton takes P4 in Mexico City - @ValtteriBottas takes P6 but ends Q3 in the barriers! 😩— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 26, 2019
The boys gave it EVERYTHING out there!! #MexicoGP #F1esta pic.twitter.com/fCP85NX7qv
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