Max Verstappen took the second pole position of his career in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 0.266s, with Sebastian Vettel third in the second Ferrari. However, ahead of Verstappen on track in the final run of the session Valtteri Bottas crashed heavily, though the Finn was unhurt in the incident.
In the opening segment of the session Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon led the way with Albon initially to the fore with a lap of 1:16.175 that left him almost tenths of a second ahead of Leclerc. Verstappen thern crossed the line 0.249 clear of his team-mate.
Behind third placed Leclerc were Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas and in the final runs all elected to stay in their garages, leaving the track clear for the battle to stay in the session.
In the end, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was eliminated in 16thplace, with the Canadian followed out of the session by the Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
Further ahead Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz put in good final flying laps to jump to sixth and seventh respectively and that dropped Bottas to eighth place ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Lando Norris. Also through to the second session were Alfa’s Kimi Räikkönen in P11 followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez, the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Q2 began with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes opting to send their drivers out on medium compound Pirellis and after the first runs it was Vettel who led the way with a lap of 1:15.914, while Verstappen held second thanks to a lap of 1:16.136. Leclerc was third ahead Bottas and Hamilton.
In the final runs the Mercedes pair again went out on medium tyres and the Red Bulls and the Ferraris circulated on soft tyres, though they later backed out of the runs to ensure qualification on medium compound tyres. Hamilton and Bottas kept going, however, and Hamilton jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:15.721, a tenth ahead of his team-mate. Vettel was third and verstappen progressed to Q3 in P4 ahead of Leclerc, Sainz and Norris. Albon made it through in P8 ahead of the Toro Rossos of Kvyat and Gasly.
Eliminated at the end of Q2 were local hero Pérez in 11thplace, followed by the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo and the Alfa Romeos of Räikkönen and Giovinazzi.
Verstappen then proved unstoppable in the final Q3 top-10 shootout. After going quickest in the first runs with a lap of 1:14.910 that left him 0.124s clear of Leclerc the Dutchman ramped up the pace in final runs to set a pole position time of 1:14.758. There was confusion in the final moments, however, as Bottas crashed in the final corner on his final run bringing out the yellow flags. The impact was heavy but he was soon out of the car and safe.
With Verstappen on pole and Leclerc on the front row, third place went to Vettel, with Hamilton fourth. Albon scored his best qualifying result to date with fifth and Bottas qualified sixth, though the heavy damage to his car calls into question where he might start. Sainz qualified seventh ahead of team-mate Norris and the final top 10 places were filled by Toro Rosso’s Kvyat and Gasly.
2019 FIA Formula One Mexican Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:14.758 7 207.260
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:15.024 0.266 7 206.525
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.170 0.412 7 206.124
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.262 0.504 6 205.872
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing 1:15.336 0.578 6 205.670
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.338 0.580 5 205.665
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:16.014 1.256 6 203.836
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1:16.322 1.564 6 203.013
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:16.469 1.711 6 202.623
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:16.586 1.828 6 202.313
11 Sergio Pérez Racing Point 1:16.687 0.966 6 202.047
12 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:16.885 1.164 6 201.526
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:16.933 1.212 6 201.401
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:16.967 1.246 6 201.312
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:17.269 1.548 6 200.525
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:18.065 2.116 8 198.480
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:18.436 2.487 9 197.541
18 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:18.599 2.650 9 197.132
19 George Russell Williams 1:18.823 2.874 10 196.572
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1:20.179 4.230 9 193.247