Mexican Grand Prix: 7 things you need to know after a shock result in qualifying
The championship may be almost a formality at this stage, but that didn’t stop us from having an absolutely thrilling qualifying session in Mexico on Saturday.
Here’s how they finished, and everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s race:
1. Dark horse Dan takes pole
Max Verstappen was lightening quick right throughout this qualifying session as for once, the Red Bulls looked to have the measure of Mercedes and Ferrari in quali trim.
And as we went into the final moments of the session the young Dutchman was sitting on the top of the pile, with neither Lewis Hamilton nor Sebastian Vettel able to topple him.
But in the dying seconds, Daniel Ricciardo stunned the whole paddock with a lap right out of the top drawer to seal pole position.
After seven retirements so far this year, and a pretty shocking qualifying record against his team-mate, it was a superb result for the Aussie, who is now into his final three races with Red Bull before his Renault switch next year.
It’s his third ever pole – and the first time he has taken top spot at any track other than Monaco.
2. Max misses out
He had a face like thunder after getting out of the car, as he must have thought he finally had his first ever pole in the bag.
Had he nabbed it, he would have made history as the first Dutchman to ever take pole, and he would have become the youngest ever pole sitter, beating former Red Bull ace Vettel by just 28 days.
He now only has one more race to take the record – Brazil, in two week’s time.
“The whole qualifying was crap,” he said as he pondered his disappointment. The fact that it was Red Bull’s first front row lock out since the US Grand Prix in 2013 seemed to be of little consolation.
3. Lewis is sitting pretty
Mercedes could not match the Red Bulls for outright pace in qualifying trim, but Lewis Hamilton seemed more than happy with third on the grid.
Remember, he only has to finish seventh or above, and he will be the 2018 World Champion, whatever Sebastian Vettel does in the race.
4. Ferrari drop back
Vettel needs to win the race to keep his tiny championship hopes alive, but it won’t be easy from fourth on the grid, as Ferrari slipped back on pace in the high altitude of Mexico City.
Slower still was last week’s winner Kimi Raikkonen who, in sixth, has re-taken his traditional place as the slowest qualifier of the Big Six.
5. Haas struggle
The Haas team has had a good season in 2018, fighting with Renault for the ‘best of the rest’ tag among the constructors. But in Mexico their pace seemed to disappear and both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean went out in Q1, with the Williams and the McLarens for company.
It gets worse for Grosjean, who gets a three place grid penalty for his adventures with Charles Leclerc in last week’s US Grand Prix.
6. Penalty for Gasly
Pierre Gasly will start from the very back of the grid, after picking up a 15 and a five place grid penalty for changing engine parts and his gearbox.
His team-mate Brendon Hartley starts 14th, but time is running out for the Kiwi to prove to the stern Red Bull chiefs that he’s got what it takes for another season in the Toro Rosso car.
7. Tune in for a explosive start on Sunday
Two Red Bulls on the front row (both with super-punchy drivers at the wheel), Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel behind them, in what will likely be faster race cars.
The start of this race could be explosive. Do not miss it.
And make sure you join us in the Home of F1 chat channel to watch along. It’s lights out at 7.10PM UK time. See you there...