Max Verstappen was the fastest in the three free practice sessions, but not in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Mexico City. The Dutch world champion was surprisingly defeated by two Ferraris. Charles Leclerc (who also took pole in Austin last week) and Carlos Sainz were faster, Verstappen will start from third place tomorrow.
Although that remained to be seen, because after the last qualifying session the jury considered an incident in Q1, when Verstappen left the pit lane very slowly, causing a traffic jam. A three-place grid penalty could have been the punishment. After viewing the images, the competition management ruled that no penalty needed to be given.
Verstappen took the lead in Q3 with 1.17.263, when Leclerc suddenly set the fastest time with 1.17.166. Sainz (1.17.233) also fell below Verstappen’s time. In an all-or-nothing attempt in the final phase, Verstappen was no longer able to dive under the fast Ferraris.
In Mexico qualifying is very important, because overtaking on the tight circuit is very difficult. The race is often won by the driver who is the first through the first corner on Sunday.
“This is a difficult track in qualifying, because you have little grip here. Then a mistake is easily made,” Verstappen said. “Then you slide away and destroy your tires. Setting a perfect lap is really difficult here. I was not able to do that, but it is something that is part of this circuit.”
However, the three-time world champion is still hopeful of victory. “There are still a lot of rounds to be completed, the points will be distributed tomorrow,” he said coolly.
“Unfortunately we had some problems in the last sector and things didn’t go as I would have liked. Of course you prefer to start in first place. But now I have a good slipstream to the first corner.”
Just as surprising as the pole for Ferrari was the fourth fastest time for Daniel Ricciardo. The AlphaTauri driver, who has only just recovered from a broken hand, will be next to Verstappen on the second row of the grid tomorrow.
Sergio Pérez was once again unable to convince in front of his own audience. Verstappen’s Mexican teammate clocked the fifth fastest time.
Qualifying was a failure for Lando Norris. Because he first had to cancel a fast lap and later had to brake due to a yellow flag, the McLaren driver did not get further than nineteenth place.
The post first appeared on nos.nl