Ricciardo denies Verstappen pole position at Mexican Grand Prix
Mexican Grand Prix - Qualifying

Ricciardo denies Verstappen pole position at Mexican Grand Prix

28/10/2018

Daniel Ricciardo denied Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen what would have been record-breaking pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix by 0.026s.

Verstappen had looked set to become the youngest man to claim that accolade after the initial runs in Q3, sitting 0.2 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari. But everything changed on the final run, with Ricciardo -- who had been fourth -- hooking up a sublime lap to go quickest on a 1:14.759. That time was just 0.02 seconds faster than Verstappen's.

The result means Vettel remains the youngest man to score pole, which he did aged 21 years, 72 days at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. At 45 days younger than that mark, Mexico seemed to be Verstappen's best opportunity to replace Vettel's name in the history books.

It marks a remarkable turnaround for Ricciardo, who has been out of sorts and out of luck in recent rounds and has not been on pole or on the podium since his victory at the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May. That race was also the last time the Australian out-qualified Verstappen on a Saturday when neither Red Bull had an impending grid penalty.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton qualified third and will start alongside main title rival Sebastian Vettel on the second row. Hamilton needs to finish seventh or higher at any one of the remaining three races to secure the championship, while Vettel must win to have any chance of the fight continuing into the Brazilian Grand Prix. The pair were involved in a controversial collision at the start of last year's race, meaning the long run down to Turn 1 will be a fascinating battle.

Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth, 0.4 seconds off the pace, but was fortunate to have contested the session after Mercedes was forced to change his engine in the short time between FP3 and Q1. As it was already in his "pool" of used engines from the U.S. Grand Prix, he will not serve a grid penalty on Sunday. Bottas will line up on an all-Finnish third row of the grid, with Austin winner Kimi Raikkonen 0.571 seconds adrift of Ricciardo's time at the end.

Renault pair Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz continued their team's strong pace from the weekend by taking the fourth row of the grid. The high-altitude Mexico City circuit negates much of the power deficit Renault's engine has been hampered by all year, explaining why Red Bull was able to contend in the fight for pole position. Sauber's Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the order in Q3.

Those who advanced to the top-10 shootout did so quite comfortably, with Esteban Ocon finishing 0.2 seconds adrift of the time needed to advance in Q2. The Force Indias have been close in practice all weekend but will be split on the grid by McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who edged out Sergio Perez by just 0.03 seconds. Toro Rosso pair Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly finished 14th and 15th, respectively. Hartley, a man under increasing pressure to perform in order to secure a 2019 extension with the team, will be left wondering what might have been after misjudging his braking point and running deep on the entry to the stadium section during his final attempt in the middle session.

Q1 was a mix of usual suspects and surprise casualties. Seventeenth-placed Stoffel Vandoorne continued his poor run of qualifying, while Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin ensured that Williams will start from the back row of the grid. Joining them in the Q1 elimination zone were the two Haas cars, unexpectedly. Romain Grosjean was just edged out by Monaco native Charles Leclerc, while Kevin Magnussen -- who completed just one lap in Saturday morning's practice session -- could manage only 18th.

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