Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz LOCK OUT the front row for the Mexican Grand Prix as Ferrari overcomes Q1 and Q2 struggles to shock the grid
- After poor performance in earlier sessions, Ferrari shockingly locked out Row 1
- Behind them, there may be issues for Verstappen and the two Mercedes’ drivers
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Charles Leclerc took a shock pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, claiming a Ferrari lock-out with Carlos Sainz.
A surprised Leclerc said: ‘Two weekends in a row where we did not expect pole. We thought we were lacking quite a bit after FP3.
‘But for some reason once we put everything together it went well and on the new tyres we gained a lot.
‘I’m already focusing on tomorrow’s race because we have had many pole positions but we need to convert it victory, and it’s going to be very difficult.
‘We will just focus on ourselves. We had a pretty good pace all weekend. I’m not sure if it’s enough to challenge for the win but we will try everything in our hands to get it.’
Charles Leclerc earned pole at the Mexican Grand Prix, his second consecutive pole position
Teammate Carlos Sainz (L) finished P2 – completing a shock front-row lockout for Ferrari
Max Verstappen was only third best, though he awaits the stewards’ verdict on whether he blocked the pit exit earlier. The triple world champion could be stripped of his second-row position if found guilty.
Mercedes’ George Russell, eight best, and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, 13th fastest, were also both called to answer the same charge, relating to Q1 when drivers held back in search of a clear patch of road.
Lewis Hamilton, who qualified sixth, was also ordered before the stewards for allegedly failing to slow under yellow flags.
Whatever the outcome of that hearing, the Mercedes man was not the same force here as he was in Austin, Texas, last week, when he finished second to Verstappen, only to be disqualified for a technical infringement.
Verstappen had been dominant throughout the afternoon on a hot day in Mexico City, until Q3. He hit the kerb hard at Turn 8 on his first flying lap of the pole shoot-out and that slowed him down, allowing the Ferrari pair to lead the standings with just one final flying tilt remaining.
Could the Dutchman improve on his time? Yes, but he was still 0.097 of a second off pole. It allowed Leclerc his second successive pole.
Reacting to his summons, Verstappen said: ‘I was opening a gap. Everybody was. I am surprised it is being looked at. I don’t think I did anything wrong or weird. I was not impeding.
‘Creating a gap at the pit lane is the only safe place to do it. You don’t want to start a lap with a gap of only of three to four seconds to the car in front.’
(L to R) Max Verstappen, George Russell, and Lewis Hamilton could all see a drop in their position after meetings with the stewards for various on-track rule infringements
Sergio Perez struggled in his home grand prix, finishing P5 and with a lot of ground to cover
Sergio Perez, in the second Red Bull, was a disappointing fifth in front of a partnership crowd totaling 390,000 over the weekend. Tickets sold out a year ago.
Lando Norris was a surprise casualty in Q1. The Briton flunked his first two fast laps – sliding wide at Turn 10 at one stage – and paid the price when a yellow flag, brought about by Alonso spinning, ended his hopes of progress.
Going out on the slower medium tyres initially did not help him. The McLaren man switched to softs later on but the error was made by then.
It was a disappointment for Norris after a rich vein of form that has seen him appear on the podium in four consecutive races. He will start 19th, with only Williams’ Logan Sargeant below him after having two lap times deleted for exceeding track limits.
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