Mercedes claimed a front-row lockout for 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix as Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen entered Qualifying day as favourite after topping Friday Practice but was pipped in FP3 by Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez as the Austrian constructor looked set for a front-row lockout.
Mercedes however delivered a huge shock in Q3 as Bottas snatched pole position from Hamilton for a Silver Arrows front-row lockout ahead of both Red Bull drivers, whilst AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly qualified fifth following a crazy Qualifying session.
Now, here is a full roundup of Saturday’s action at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
A quiet start to Qualifying saw only Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll and George Russell venture out in the opening 11 minutes, with Tsunoda setting the early benchmark lap time of 1m 19.744 until he was pipped by Kimi Raikkonen then Lando Norris.
Lewis Hamilton proceeded to go top in the 25th minute with 1m 18.770 but Bottas displaced him after posting 1m 18.661, although Sergio Perez found time to go top by 0.036 seconds although he was then displaced by Charles Leclerc who went faster by 0.412s but later spun at Turn Three.
Verstappen meanwhile spent the opening half hour in the pits but once he hit the track, he instantly set the pace with 1m 17.537 before finding 0.320s on his next flier to go even faster ahead of the final Qualifying simulations.
Ultimately come the checkered flag, Sergio Perez emerged fastest heading into Qualifying with 1m 17.024 to the cheers of his home crowd ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton and Bottas as Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five.
|1||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1m 17.024|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.193|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.651|
|4||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.684|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.005|
|6||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 1.013|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.097|
|8||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.178|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.189|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.288|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.328|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.507|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.532|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.590|
|15||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.823|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.975|
|17||George Russel||Williams||+ 2.187|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 2.214|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.289|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 3.455|
Nicholas Latifi was the first driver out onto the track but pitted again as Mick Schumacher set the first benchmark time of 1m 21.524, which was quickly bettered by Kimi Raikkonen by 2.416s with 1m 19.108.
Antonio Giovinazzi soon afterwards went quickest but was displaced by Sainz then Leclerc with the Monegasque finding himself sat top after the opening seven minutes, as the red flag was waved after Lance Stroll spun and crashed on the exit of Peraltada to end his session early.
Q1 resumed 26 minutes later with the AlphaTauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly leading numerous drivers straight back out on track, as Sainz initially lost power before his Ferrari managed to reset itself in neutral gear trundling down towards Turn One.
Once everyone except both Alpine drivers set an initial lap time, Verstappen was quickest with 1m 16.788 ahead of Bottas who improved on his second flier to get within 0.171s of the championship leader.
With three minutes left, the elimination zone contained; Latifi, Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin and George Russell alongside Stroll, who was definitely eliminated after his early shunt in the session.
Once the checkered flag came out, only Russell escaped the elimination zone in 14th at Fernando Alonso’s expense as Latifi was eliminated in 17th ahead of the Haas duo of Schumacher and Mazepin as Stroll qualified last after posting a time prior to his crash.
Stroll will be starting from the back of the grid anyway though after taking a new power unit this weekend.
Up front, Bottas finished Q1 on top with 1m 16.727 which was just 0.021s quicker than Leclerc who was second quickest.
Home favourite, Perez was first out on tyres as everyone but Esteban Ocon and Tsunoda opted to do their opening Q2 stints on the medium tyres, in case they have to start the race on those specific tyres, with Ocon plus Tsunoda instead opting for the soft tyres.
Verstappen though was quickest after the initial first round of fliers with 1m 16.483 which was just 0.016s quicker than Hamilton whilst Tsunoda put himself third on the soft tyre behind the top two who were both on mediums.
Upon completion of the opening stints, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Ocon, Russell and Vettel occupied the five elimination spots between 11-15th positions respectively.
Once the checkered flag fell, none of the bottom five escaped elimination but Vettel rebounded to qualify 11th ahead of Raikkonen, Russell, Giovinazzi and Ocon, although Russell will start near the back of the grid after taking a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change after FP2 yesterday.
Hamilton meanwhile finished quickest on 1m 16.474 just 0.009s ahead of his title rival, Verstappen.
Norris was first out on track as he provided McLaren teammate, Daniel Ricciardo which led AlphaTauri, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to do the exact same with their drivers for the opening Q3 stints as everyone but Tsunoda reverted back to soft tyres after running the mediums in Q2.
At conclusion of the first fliers, Mercedes sat one-two with Bottas on provisional pole with 1m 15.875 and 0.145s ahead of Hamilton, as Verstappen, Perez and Gasly rounded out the top five halfway through the session.
For the final runs, AlphaTauri decided to stick both of their drivers near the McLaren duo for the slipstream effect whilst Red Bull did likewise behind Ferrari, as Mercedes released their drivers further behind the pack with a gap to their rivals.
Only Sainz and Ricciardo though found improvement on their final fliers to sixth and seventh though as Bottas clung on for pole ahead of Hamilton in a front-row lockout for Mercedes, whilst Perez had a wide moment through Turns 10 and 11 just moments after Tsunoda made an error at same corner.
Verstappen and Perez locked out the second row for Red Bull ahead of Gasly, Sainz, Ricciardo. Tsunoda and Norris.
Tsunoda and Norris though will start 17th and 18th on the grid. after taking new power units this weekend, meaning that Vettel will instead start 9th for Aston Martin despite his Q2 exit.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 15.875|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.145|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.350|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.467|
|5||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.581|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.886|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 0.888|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.962|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda*||AlphaTauri||+ 1.283|
|10||Lando Norris*||McLaren||+ 20.955|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1m 17.746|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.212|
|13||George Russell**||Williams||+ 0.426|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.544|
|15||Esteban Ocon*||Alpine||+ 0.659|
|16||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||1m 18.452|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.304|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.406|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 0.851|
|20||Lance Stroll*||Aston Martin||+ 2.421|