Vettel Stays Alive; Wins Pole in Mexico
MEXICO CITY, Mexico--R.I.S.-- Needing some good results to stay alive in the formula one world championship, Sebastian Vettel proved Saturday afternoon that he can still fight with series leader Lewis Hamilton by taking the pole for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix with a track record time of 1:16:488 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Max Verstappen who had the fastest time in the second session was second, followed by Hamilton in third.
“It was quite an event, and I was really, really happy.” Stated Vettel afterwards. “It was very difficult, very slippery and it was very difficult to get everything in one lap. I had a brake problem, but I managed to get that right at the start. I had to keep it clean, but that was good enough. Yesterday was not a good day for us, but overnight they improved (the engineers from Ferrari) and I am very, very happy and we will see what will happen in the race tomorrow.”
Vettel snatched away the pole right at the last second of the final session, following what looked like an opportunity for Verstappen to become the youngest pole winner in history at 20 years of age. But the Dutchman slowed down his final qualifying lap in the final session, complaining of not getting enough grip in his tires. Hamilton was never in the fight, although he began the opening session with the quickest time, but soon afterwards was reporting of a bad balance in the car. With Hamilton taking third and his Mercedes teammate Valterri Bottas in fourth, it is the first time in quite a while that the AMG Mercedes drivers, who just won their fourth world constructors title last week in Texas, will start the race outside the front row.
While Vettel finally got a pole, the American Haas F1 Team had a terrible day, with both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean taking 18th and 19th positions respectively, which was worse than both Sauber’s Markus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, who normally start the race with old Ferrari engines from the back row. Only Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly will begin the race from the back, due to an engine change. In fact, the Frenchman did not even have an engine ready for qualifying and did not participate.
Kimi Raikkonen had a very quiet day in his Ferrari, finishing in fifth, while Esteban Ocon took sixth in the Force India. Daniel Ricciardo finished a disappointing seventh, and both Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. took eighth and ninth, respectively. Home hero Sergio Perez finished in tenth.
Vettel to keep the championship alive for the next race, must win or finish second. But this does not bother Vettel himself, who knows what he must do.
“We have to pacify take every position, whether it is the race or qualifying.” Vettel said. “Today was very important and we will see. But there is not much in control as I would like it to be, but we will attack and see what we can do. Ferrari deserves a good result and we will see what we can do tomorrow.”
MEXICAN GRAND PRIX
At the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico
Final Qualifying Results
1Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari --- 1:16:488
2Max Verstappen(NED) Red Bull Racing
3Lewis Hamilton(GBR) AMG Mercedes
4Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
5Kimi Raikkonen( FIN) Ferrari
6Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
7Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
8Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
9Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
10Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
11Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
12Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing
13Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
14Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren-Honda
15Stoffel Vandoorne(BEL) McLaren-Honda
16Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
17Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber
18Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
19Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
20 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.