Mexican Quali: Hamilton Secures pole as Ferrari fall short again

Lewis Hamilton has kept momentum on his side of the Mercedes garage with a pole position lap that beat Nico Rosberg by just over two-tenths.

The British driver’s opening lap in Q3 was enough to secure pole, with Verstappen and Ricciardo getting their Red Bulls into 2nd and 3rd, with Rosberg over half-a-second down on Hamilton in 4th. But the German driver collected composure for his final run and just managed to deny Verstappen a front-row start.

After the session, Hamilton said,

“It’s always a tough battle. Trying to pull out the perfect laps when it counts is always a difficult thing. The track has got a lot better, there is more grip than last year and it feels more like a race track.”

Another Mercedes front-row lockout with a Red Bull second-row, followed by Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India in 5th – another incredible quali session for the Hulk. The big question, will he survive the first lap and convert his high starting position into a valuable points haul for the 4th place squabble with Williams?

Raikkonen lines up 6th after beating his teammate by five-thousandths of a second. Vettel complained during Q2 about needing a wee over team radio – Thematic, given that it was another piss-poor performance from Ferrari. Great pace in Free Practice shaped them up to be contenders, but an inability to find performance on the Supersoft tyres where other teams made gains ultimately condemns them to another fight for 5th and 6th tomorrow. They’re always great off the start, but we’ve fallen for believing in them too many times already this season…

Williams left it late in Q2, with Bottas and Massa getting themselves into the top-ten at the checkered flag. Bottas starts 8th with Massa behind in 9th. There’s no reason to believe that they can’t challenge Ferrari tomorrow and gain points to counter what looks to be a strong race ahead for Hulkenberg.

Rounding out the top ten was Carlos Sainz, who shouldn’t have been in Q3 on paper. But he enjoys outdriving his car so much that he beat the McLaren’s and local favourite Sergio Perez into the shootout. He will struggle to keep his place tomorrow, especially given the pace of the Force India. Then again, it’s Carlos Sainz so he’ll probably finish 6th.

Elsewhere, McLaren will be disappointed without an appearance in Q3, but get free choice of tyres for the start. Alonso starts in 11th with Button 13th, the Honda powered cars sandwich an out-of-position Sergio Perez in 12th. The Mexican will surely be one to watch going forward tomorrow.

Magnussen had an ordinary session with 14th and Marcus Ericsson had a stronger session than usual with 15th. The Scandinavian pair will have the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein for company at the start. He had a fantastic session and starts 16th.

The biggest upset of the day were Haas, neither car able to scrape out of Q1 with their day summed up by a Gutierrez spin on his final flyer that also cost his teammate time. Gutierrez starts 17th with Grosjean all the way down in 21st. A big ask for the French driver to fight for points on raceday.

Qualifying affirmed that both Mercedes drivers have done what they need to do. It’s difficult to see an outcome beyond a Mercedes win, but the Red Bulls, which start the race on the Supersofts will be of interest to Hamilton. If the Brit can get another good start and the Bulls overtake Rosberg, the Championship could become more open.

Sergio Perez will also be one to watch. If Hulkenberg’s lap wasn’t spectacular from a personal perspective, there should be heaps of pace in Checo’s Force India too. He’s a smooth criminal on his tyres, so could claw his way well into the points tomorrow.