Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.
Leclerc overcame a difficult FP3 and scrappy Qualifying to snatch a shock pole position ahead of teammate, Carlos Sainz in a tense finish, with Max Verstappen third as just 0.097 seconds split the top three.
Now here is a roundup of FP3 and Qualifying for 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was first out on track three minutes into the session after an initial lull and set the benchmark time of 1m 20.740 on the hard tyre but his time was bettered by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in the eighth minute on soft tyres.
Leclerc’s 1m 19.283 however was displaced in the 12th minute by Lewis Hamilton who went 0.069 seconds quicker, only for the Brit to be displaced by his Mercedes teammate, George Russell who posted 1m 18.644 a minute later to go fastest.
Russell’s time wasn’t beaten in the remainder of the opening half hour as he headed Verstappen, who displaced him just past the half-hour mark with 1m 18.429, with many drivers having ran the soft or medium tyre except Bottas and Guanyu Zhou whose fastest laps were on the hard tyre.
Attention eventually switched to qualifying simulations on the soft tyre as Williams’ Alex Albon went fastest in the 43rd minute with 1m 17.957, which many drivers including Russell, Lando Norris and Hamilton couldn’t beat.
Only Verstappen managed to beter Albon’s time by 0.070s as he topped the session with 1m 17.887 ahead of the Thai-British driver, with Sergio Perez third ahead of Russell and Oscar Piastri.
Leclerc and Sainz found themselves 13th and 15th fastest after they encountered traffic on their first qualifying simulations, of which Sainz was forced into a spin through Turns 7, 8 and 9.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 17.887|
|2||Alex Albon||Williams||+ 0.070|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.139|
|4||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 0.361|
|5||Oscar Piastri||McLaren||+ 0.505|
|6||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.550|
|7||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.563|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.593|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri||+ 0.612|
|10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.635|
|11||Logan Sargeant||Williams||+ 0.831|
|12||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.030|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.083|
|14||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.207|
|15||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.406|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||+ 1.433|
|17||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||+ 1.584|
|18||Pierre Gasly||Alpine||+ 1.622|
|19||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.686|
|20||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.952|
Magnussen was first out on track and set a benchmark time of 1m 19.730 on soft tyres but soon got usurped by several drivers, as Verstappen topped the opening Q1 runs with 1m 18.099 whilst Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren drivers boldly set their first lap times on medium tyres.
That gamble didn’t work for McLaren as Piastri and Norris found themselves 18th and 19th respectively ahead of Sargeant whose time was deleted for track limits, whilst Stroll and Albon were 16th and 17th quickest amongst those in the drop zone once everyone set a lap.
McLaren opted to send their drivers out early for their final Q1 runs which saw Piastri leap up to second, whilst Norris found himself 19th after he set 1m 21.554 in his first proper flier – having aborted his medium tyre run.
Alonso spun at Turn 3 in the final minute which further denied Norris a chance to set a representative lap time, thus sealing his fate as he suffered a Q1 exit for the third time this season but in 19th position after Sargeant’s lap time was again deleted.
Stroll qualified 18th behind Magnussen and Ocon who qualified 17th and 16th respectively as Piastri and Albon escaped Q1 elimination, by virtue of setting their lap times before Alonso’s spin caused the yellow flags.
Verstappen and Russell meanwhile found themselves under investigation post session for deliberately holding up a queue of cars in the pit lane as they came out for their final runs, whilst Russell was also investigated for failing to meet maximum delta times alongside Norris and Zhou.
Sargeant and Tsunoda were put under investigation for overtaking under yellow flags whilst Sargeant and Hamilton were investigated for speeding under yellow flags.
Everyone but Sargeant eventually avoided a penalty as the American was handed a ten-place grid spot for overtaking under yellow flags, which demoted him to 19th on the grid behind Tsunoda who had already been confirmed to start at the back.
Perez was first out on track and set a benchmark 1m 18.124 but Verstappen went quickest by 0.499s as he set 1m 17.625 to top the timesheet on his first flying lap.
Tsunoda opted to not run in the first part of Q2 due to starting from the back of the grid after he took a sixth power unit in this season, and found himself 15th at the halfway mark behind; Alonso, Gasly, Hulkenberg and Albon who sat in 14, 13, 12 and 11th position respectively.
As the checkered flag fell amidst more pit-lane impeding antics, only Albon survived as Zhou was eliminated in 11th position whilst Gasly leapfrogged Hulkenberg for 12th as Alonso only qualified 14th quickest ahead of Tsunoda who didn’t set a lap time.
Stewards however deleted Albon’s lap time during the gap between Q2 and Q3 which gave Zhou a reprieve as Albon slipped to 14th, with Gasly, Hulkenberg and Alonso promoted to 11th, 12th and 13th in the order.
Hamilton meanwhile posted 1m 17.571 to go fastest at the end of Q2 ahead of Verstappen who didn’t venture back out for a second run.
Perez again was first out on track and set the initial provisional pole time of 1m 17.788 but was immediately displaced as Verstappen posted 1m 17.286 to go top by 0.502s from the home hero, only for Sainz to unexpectedly beat the Dutchman’s lap time by 0.053s.
Leclerc however sprung a bigger shock than Sainz as he produced 1m 17.166 to put himself on provisional pole, ahead of; Sainz, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Russell, Hamilton, Perez, Piastri and Bottas as Zhou stayed in the pits and instead ran in the gap.
Once Zhou eventually set his first flying lap of 1m 18.050, the 24 year-old found himself ninth in the order ahead of his Alfa Romeo teammate, Bottas.
At the checkered flag, none of the top four improved position as Leclerc snatched pole in a Ferrari front-row lockout ahead of Sainz, with Verstappen third as the top three were split by 0.097s.
Ricciardo, Perez, Hamilton, Piastri, Russell, Bottas and Zhou rounded out the top ten.
|1||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1m 17.166|
|2||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.067|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.097|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri||+ 0.216|
|5||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.257|
|6||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.288|
|7||Oscar Piastri||McLaren||+ 0.457|
|8||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 0.508|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.866|
|10||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.884|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Alpine||1m 18.521|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||+ 0.003|
|13||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||+ 0.217|
|14||Alex Albon||Williams||+ 0.626|
|15*||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||No Time|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||1m 19.080|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 0.083|
|18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 0.147|
|19||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 2.474|
|20||Logan Sargeant||Williams||No Time|
*Tsunoda will start from 20th on the grid due to exceeding his power unit allowance.