Home F1 2018 Ricciardo leads Verstappen to surprise Mexico pole
Ricciardo leads Verstappen to surprise Mexico pole

Ricciardo leads Verstappen to surprise Mexico pole

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Daniel Ricciardo surprised Mexico with pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, after his team-mate Max Verstappen dominated the entire first-half of the weekend. 

Daniel Ricciardo’s fastest time was a 1.14.759s, which gave him a 0.026s advantage over his Formula One team-mate, despite him setting the provisional pole time.

Story of the session 

Qualifying got underway at Mexico City with a track temperature of 25 degrees Celsius – significantly lower than Friday practice, where Red Bull held a dominant advantage over Mercedes and Ferrari. Meanwhile, there was also a threat of rain at the start of the session – a 40% chance of rain as the light went green in the pit-lane.

Gasly in the Toro Rosso was first to take to circuit, however the Frenchman was due a hefty grid penalty, hence would not be pushing hard in qualifying.

The Mercedes’ of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton went different from the rest of the field and took on the ultra-soft tyres at the start, whilst the rest of the field took on the faster, but less durable, hyper-soft tyres.

Gasly set a 1.17.876s as the first lap-time of the session, however that lap was quickly beaten by Bottas, who took to circuit with his car repaired. The Mercedes driver set a 1.17.160s, however was quickly beaten by 0.6s by Raikkonen. That was soon undermined with a 1.16.089s by Sebastian Vettel, which was the new lap record, as the drivers were approaching the 1 minute-16s barrier.

The Red Bull’s took to circuit much later than rivals Ferrari and Mercedes. Ricciardo was the first man to smash the sub 1 minute 16s barrier, and went fastest with a 1.15.866s, but that time was beaten by team-mate Verstappen with a 1.15.756s, which set him 0.110s clear of his Formula 1 team-mate.

The Mercedes cars went again on hyper-soft tyres, as Bottas set the fastest time with a 1.15.580s as Lewis Hamilton only managed second and was almost a tenth adrift of his team-mate.

As Q1 came to an end, Grosjean, Vandoorne, Magnussen, Stroll and Sirotkin all faced elimination.

As Q2 kicked off, Mercedes went for ultra-soft tyres following their experiment in Q1, given the lack of grip displayed by the fastest tyres, with many pundits in the paddock labeling it as “chewing gum tyres”.

As the laps came in from the first runs, Hamilton went fastest with a 1.15.644s, and headed Vettel by 0.071s, however despite engines being turned up, Verstappen went to the top of the time-sheets by 0.004s with a 1.15.640s. All times were completed on the ultra-soft tyre.

As the drivers headed for second Q2 runs, many front-runners including Mercedes and Ferrari went out on hyper-soft tyres, however it was expected that they would all abort their laps and use it solely for Q3 practice.

As Q2 came to an end, Ocon, Alonso, Perez, Hartley and Gasly all faced elimination.

As Q3 got underway, the two Ferrari’s were first to take to circuit – with Kimi Raikkonen leading Vettel away, followed by the two Mercedes cars, and Red Bull spent more time in the garage before taking to circuit.

As the drivers completed their first runs, Max Verstappen easily went onto provisional pole with a 1.14.785s, heading Sebastian Vettel by almost two tenths, with Hamilton third just behind Vettel. Meanwhile, Ricciardo could only go fourth fastest.

As the final runs came in, Ricciardo surprised Mexico with pipping Verstappen at the last minute with a 1.14.759s and was 0.026s ahead of his team-mate. Meanwhile, Hamilton pipped Vettel at the last minute for third place.