For the second weekend in a row, Charles Leclerc takes Pole Position, this time in Mexico! The Monegasque, together with Carlos Sainz in P2, put Ferrari at the front for the Grand Prix despite a difficult free practice. Max Verstappen is still undoubtedly the favourite ahead of tomorrow’s race, starting from third.
It was a great lap from Daniel Ricciardo, who (having taken Pole here in 2018) demonstrated his speed in Mexico City. He earned a brilliant second-row grid slot.
Mercedes were quite far behind, only sixth with Lewis Hamilton and eighth with George Russell. Oscar Piastri finished in P7, while Alfa Romeo returns to Q3. Norris disappoints, excluded in Q1.
There was always an expectation that qualifying would be closely matched in Mexico. A combination of strong top speed, performance in low-speed corners and ability to ride the curves are all crucial. Any weaknesses will inevitably be exposed. Most of the drivers rightly chose to use soft tyres for their first runs. Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari gambled with the medium tyres.
In the first run, Max Verstappen went into first place with relative ease. Daniel Ricciardo found himself in an encouraging P2 immediately, benefiting from the slipstream of his teammate. In third place was Charles Leclerc on mediums, only three-tenths behind the Dutchman – a reasonable gap considering tyre choice.
Bottas quickly found his sweet in qualifying. Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri have been strong all weekend, benefiting from air conditions that mitigate their inherent drag. Both teams perform well in the low-speed corners.
Late in the session, Fernando Alonso lost his Aston Martin exiting turn 3, causing a yellow flag and costing several drivers. Nobody improved their times, with Lando Norris the most notable casualty, exiting in Q1. The others eliminated were: Ocon, Magnussen, Stroll, Norris and Sargeant.
The first attempts in Q2 saw an unusual 1-2-3 Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo sensationally sandwiched between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Bottas confirmed his competitiveness by going 5th. Ferrari went on sets of used soft tyres, impacting their initial performance. Meanwhile, Alex Albon complained about a drop in performance in his Williams FW45 – a frustrating decline after Free Practice.
Despite this, Albon was initially able to get into the top 10 – until his lap was deleted for exceeding track limits. Zhou was the beneficiary, making it into the final part of qualifying. Also eliminated with Albon were Gasly, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Tsunoda (who will start from the back due to a power unit change).