Verstappen, who complained of insufficient grip after qualifying, leads the championship standings five races before the end of the season, twelve points ahead of Hamilton. The race will take place on Sunday (8:00 p.m. CET). “Third place is not great, but there will still be a big fight,” said Verstappen.
The Mercedes duo seemed a bit astonished themselves that after falling clearly behind in practice they had suddenly taken the front row of the grid. “Valtteri did a great job and I’m so proud of him,” said Hamilton. “We worked so hard. We didn’t think we’d have the pace this weekend, ”said the defending champion.
Actually, at an altitude of more than 2,200 meters above sea level, the Mercedes engine was considered to be weaker than the Red Bulls’ Honda engine, whose larger turbo delivers more oxygen to the combustion engine. But Bottas enthused: “It felt great to drive the car.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff now even has all the tactical advantages on his side. “Our car has gotten faster and faster. The first row is a good step. Maybe we can hold that, ”said Wolff.
Red Bull disappointment
For Red Bull, on the other hand, qualifying turned out to be a disappointment. On Friday, Verstappen had set the clear best time in practice, on Saturday morning he and Perez had also left the Mercedes duo far behind. When it counted, however, the favorites went wrong. Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko recognized a “very good bluff” from Mercedes. “We also didn’t manage to get the tires into the correct temperature window,” he said.
“It looks like we’ve lost our balance,” said Verstappen again. To make matters worse, a brake on the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) disrupted Perez and Verstappen’s time chase on the last lap.
Regarding the incident in the last qualifying section, Marko said: “Tsunoda got both of our cars out, otherwise we would have come closer.” But the superiority that was there first is now obviously gone, Marko confessed. “It will definitely be a difficult race, Mercedes can now determine the racing strategy. But we will be a little better in racing trim. “
Violent accident by Stroll
For Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), qualifying was over after a few minutes after an accident in Q1. Stroll was uninjured, the qualification was interrupted for about half an hour. The Canadian should have started the race from the very back anyway. Like Tsunoda, McLaren driver Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon (Alpine), he was punished with being relocated to the end of the start grid for replacing several drive components beyond the permitted contingent.
After the Grand Prix in Mexico, the 18th of a total of 22 World Championship races, two more races will follow in just two weeks. First it goes to Brazil (live on ORF1), then on to the premiere in Qatar. The season will end with the races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi (live on ORF1).
Mexican Grand Prix
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Formula 1: Bottas takes pole position in Mexico