Ricciardo steals Mexican F1 GP pole to deny Verstappen's record attempt
Despite looking out of the qualifying contest, Daniel Ricciardo stealthily took a last gasp pole position from team mate Max Verstappen to deny the...
Despite looking out of the qualifying contest, Daniel Ricciardo stealthily took a last gasp pole position from team mate Max Verstappen to deny the Dutchman a record-breaking first Formula One pole position.
With Verstappen leading every practice session and entering qualifying as the favourite for pole, he was denied the chance to take the record for the youngest ever pole position winner by a stellar lap from his Renault-bound team-mate.
Ricciardo’s reaction on team radio showed his euphoria after a tough recent run.
In the final laps of qualifying, Ricciardo took pole position by just 0.026 of a second at what could be Verstappen's last chance of beating Sebastian Vettel's ten-year-old record of being the youngest pole position winner.
"It was crap," said Verstappen when asked to describe his final qualifying run.
"Again, same problems as FP2. Engine braking not how I wanted, locking the rear wheels of the car. We tried to make the best of it, I thought it was going to be enough with the problems we've had but, it's still good to be second."
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will line up in third place and have to fend off Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel on the run to turn one, whilst Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top six.
Renault carried on their strong showing at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez by locking out the fourth row, with Nico Hulkenberg leading Carlos Sainz.
Qualifying session one
The anticipated rain didn't turn up for Q1, so all drivers were able to complete 'normal' qualifying sessions, with all drivers setting laps on the fastest hypersoft tyres except for Mercedes, who initially went out on ultrasofts before moving to the hypersofts.
Valtteri Bottas had no trouble in making it in time for the start of qualifying following a hydraulics problem in free practice three. His Mercedes required a power unit swap, but this was for a unit already in his allocation, so he remains penalty-free for this race.
With Red Bull more-than-happy to keep the session dry, they went fastest with both Verstappen and Ricciardo setting 1:15 laps for the first time this weekend.
Mercedes, equipped with the hypersofts, then went less than two tenths faster than Verstappen with a couple of minutes to go.
Towards the back, the two Williams propped up the timing sheets with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin in nineteenth and twentieth, whilst the two Haas drivers struggled as Romain Grosjean (16th) - who has a three-place grid penalty for his Austin collision with Charles Leclerc - and Kevin Magnussen (18th) were eliminated along with McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne.
Qualifying session two
As expected, the top six drivers all took to the track on the ultrasoft tyres, which will be the preferred race tyre, whilst Force India went out on the supersoft tyres, perhaps in a bid to avoid progressing into Q3 and have free tyre choice for tomorrow's race.
Verstappen set the fastest time, marginally ahead of Hamilton and Vettel. All of the top six went out again on the hypersoft tyres, but opted not to complete their laps.
Force India, however, went for the ultrasoft tyres but, whilst they could not progress into Q3, have the optimal P11 position with Esteban Ocon. Team-mate Sergio Perez finished in thirteenth, just behind McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
Both Renaults and Sauber made it through to Q3, with the latter having a double-Q3 appearance for the second time this season.
Qualifying session three
With Mercedes and Ferrari now fully unleashing their power units, Vettel was the first man to set a time in the 1:14s, but it was still not enough to challenge Verstappen, who was last across the line in the first runs and took provisional pole by setting a 1:14.785, going two tenths clear.
However, despite Verstappen being the firm favourite for pole, seemingly out of nowhere Ricciardo set mega second and third sectors to claw back three tenths and pip his team-mate by 0.026 of a second and take his first non-Monaco pole position and deny his team-mate the chance of making history.
Improvements for Hamilton put the Briton in third ahead of championship rival Vettel, although both were less than one-quarter of a second off pole.
Bottas and Raikkonen will occupy the third row, whilst Hulkenberg will lead Sainz in an all-Renault fourth row, with the Saubers of Leclerc and Ericsson completing the top ten.
MEXICAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m14.759s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m14.785s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.894s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m14.970s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m15.160s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m15.330s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m15.827s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m16.084s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m16.189s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m16.513s
11 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m16.844s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m16.871s
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m17.167s
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m17.184s
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda No time
16 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m16.911s
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m16.966s
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m17.599s
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m17.689s
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m17.886s
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport ImagesWhat are your predictions for this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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