Max Verstappen Grabs Mexico Pole In Frantic Qualifying

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 28, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images ) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202210290093 // Usage for editorial use only //
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 28, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images ) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202210290093 // Usage for editorial use only //

World Champion Max Verstappen took his 19th career pole position in Mexico City, beating Mercedes’ George Russell by three-tenths of a second, at Round 20 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 season.

Mercedes enjoyed one of their most competitive Saturday’s as Lewis Hamilton secured third position for Sunday’s race.

After scoring a sixth pole position of 2022, 25-year-old Verstappen said: “It was a good qualifying, the car got into a better rhythm.

“It’s a long run to Turn 1 so we need a good start but we have a quick car and that’s the most important thing. It’s amazing to drive here.”

“To be on pole here is amazing. It was a tricky start to qualifying as the track was a bit warmer than FP3, I didn’t expect to be on pole here. Around this track it’s hard to nail a lap and we’ve been struggling to find a good balance in the car. After practice we made quite a few adjustments and we got into a better rhythm. Looking ahead to tomorrow, it’s a long run into to turn one so we need a good start, I think we have a quick car and that’s what is most important. It’s incredible to see the passion of all the fans here, it will be good to have Checo up there with me tomorrow, I hope we can have a fun race with a lot of action.”

Ferrari had a disappointing session, finishing fifth and seventh, both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc more than half a second slower than Verstappen.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team mate, Sergio Perez, will line up fourth ahead of his home race.

Lando Norris qualified his McLaren ahead of both Alpine’s but Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, who took pole in 2021, was the big surprise of the session, placing his Alfa Romeo sixth on the grid.

Max Verstappen edges close battle

Verstappen produced a fantastic lap in Mexico, and he had to, in order to take pole position.

Mercedes backed up their FP3 pace, which had seen Russell top the standings ahead of Hamilton, the British pair pushing the Dutchman all the way.

Seven-time World Champion Hamilton topped both Q1 and Q2, with the top five drivers in Q2 covered by less than a tenth of a second.

That group included the Mercedes and Red Bull pairs, as well as Austin pole winner Carlos Sainz, although Charles Leclerc did abort a lap in which the Monegasque had set the fastest middle sector time.

However, when it was time to deliver, Verstappen pulled out two outstanding laps to initially set the pace and then, on his final run, improve further with two fastest sectors.

Despite that lap, with the Mercedes drivers behind on the track, the Dutchman had to wait to confirm the pole was his.

Hamilton, just 0.014s down at the second split, went third fastest, after seeing his first lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

Russell was going quicker still, but a messy final sector saw the 24-year-old’s lap ruined.

With Mercedes performing well at this track layout and aided by the thinner air, Verstappen still has work to do if he is to take his 14th win of the year and set a new F1 record.

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 05: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 05, 2021 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202109051556 // Usage for editorial use only //

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