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F1 Mexican GP: Verstappen beats Mercedes duo to pole, Leclerc seventh

Max Verstappen beat Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to pole for Formula 1’s 2022 Mexican race, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc down in fifth and seventh.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Home hero Sergio Perez took fourth, while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was a surprise star of qualifying to split the Ferrari drivers and secure sixth on the grid for Sunday’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

After Hamilton topped Q1 and Q2, he lost his opening time in Q3 for cutting Turn 3, with Verstappen leading at the head of the times after those first runs in the final segment – his 1m17.947s breaking into the 1m17s bracket for the first time all session.

Perez, like he had in the first runs, led the pack around for the final fliers and he improved with his last go, but not by enough to topple his team-mate nor Russell, who trailed by 0.132 seconds after the opening attempts.

Following Perez, the two Ferrari drivers could not recover from slow opening sectors on their last laps, with Sainz unable to improve his personal best from the first runs and the Spaniard ending up fourth.

Leclerc did improve but not by enough to trouble the top positions, which left the focus on the Mercedes drivers after Verstappen then flashed through to improve the best time to a 1m17.775s.

That became the pole lap when Hamilton finally registered a Q3 time that was 0.309s behind Verstappen’s new best and still not quicker than Russell, who lost his final time for sliding off track beyond the Turn 12 exit kerbs entering the stadium, but had done enough already to secure second.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While the focus was on the frontrunners, Bottas slipped in a 1m18.401s having been in the top six in both Q1 and Q2 in a strong showing for Alfa.

Behind Leclerc came Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso, who completed just a single run in Q3 during the lull between the two efforts completed by all the rest, with Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10 in the other Alpine.

Daniel Ricciardo was the highest-placed faller in Q2 – the Australian the only driver not to set a personal best on their final flier, missing out behind Alonso in the middle segment by just 0.053s.

Behind Ricciardo came Zhou Guanyu, then the AlphaTauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly – both frustrated by their lack of grip and the latter particularly annoyed to end up out after completing a clean final run.

The final driver eliminated in Q2 was Kevin Magnussen, who will drop five places on the grid for Sunday’s race for Haas having to fit a sixth internal combustion engine of the year to his car after it ground to a halt during FP1 with Pietro Fittipaldi aboard.

In Q1, Zhou’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Mick Schumacher – the Haas driver losing his penultimate lap that would have easily been fast enough to get through for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2.

Although Schumacher, who ended up just behind his grid-penalty-addled team-mate at the end of Q1, set a personal best on his final flier, it was 0.8s slower than his deleted previous time and left him vulnerable as the final laps in the opening segment were completed.

Sebastian Vettel ended 17th but behind Schumacher because the younger German driver set his identical 1m20.491s first, with Lance Stroll just behind in the other Aston Martin.

The Williams pair of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear of the field, with the former the only driver knocked out in Q1 not to set a personal best on his final lap – thanks to an off-track moment at Turn 8, having had to catch a rear axle slide in the preceding corner.

Qualifying result:

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'17.775  
2 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 1'18.079 0.304
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'18.084 0.309
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'18.128 0.353
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1'18.351 0.576
6 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1'18.401 0.626
7 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'18.555 0.780
8 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'18.721 0.946
9 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'18.939 1.164
10 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'19.010 1.235
11 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1'19.325 1.550
12 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1'19.476 1.701
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'19.589 1.814
14 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'19.672 1.897
15 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 1'20.419 2.644
16 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'20.419 2.644
17 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 1'20.859 3.084
18 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 1'21.167 3.392
19 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 1'19.833 2.058
20 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1'20.520 2.745

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