Mexican Grand Prix 2018: Daniel Ricciardo claimed pole position for the 2018 Formula One Mexican Grand Prix at the expense of Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen after qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Saturday.
Ricciardo denied 21-year-old Verstappen the chance to become the youngest driver on pole in F1 history, but Red Bull still secured a front-row lockout for Sunday’s race.
Lewis Hamilton finished third-fastest and still only requires a finish of seventh or higher to wrap up the title ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Verstappen made it three out of three when he was fastest in the third and final practice session to begin the day. Champion in waiting Hamilton and rival Vettel rounded out the top three:
Hamilton and Mercedes opted for the ultrasoft tyres in Q1, with Red Bull and Ferrari trusting the hypersofts. The latter two teams put those tyres to good use early on:
Despite Vettel and Verstappen’s best efforts, it was Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who set the pace in Q1 ahead of the defending champion:
Veteran Fernando Alonso saw his time wiped out after the 37-year-old McLaren man exceeded the track limits. There was also misfortune for Haas F1 duo Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who were among those to miss out at the end of Q1.
Both title rivals eventually saw themselves outdone by Verstappen, who finally made his practice form count as he shaded the session:
The home crowd was left disappointed as Force India driver Sergio Perez was one of the names who didn’t make the cut. He was joined by team-mate Esteban Ocon, Alonso and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
Force India were left to rue the decision to drive on supersofts, despite the obvious benefits of the hypers.
Determined to chase down history, Verstappen crossed the line on provisional pole after setting an impressive time on his first run with around six minutes left:
The final runs saw Ricciardo seize pole from the grasp of his fellow Red Bull driver by a mere two hundredths of a second. Verstappen tried to fight back, but he couldn’t better Ricciardo’s time.
A Red Bull front-row lockout was some form of consolation for Verstappen, who still finished ahead of Hamilton. The latter paced Vettel in P3 and still looks a lock to secure the title on Sunday.
Hamilton remains confident and is content with his efforts to match Red Bull on a circuit where the team has traditionally been strong:
Mercedes seem likely to take another title, but rising star Verstappen will nonetheless be ruing his failure to secure a place in the history books.