A superb qualifying lap from Valtteri Bottas gave the Mercedes driver pole position for the 2021 F1 Mexico Grand Prix, just ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton as the German team locked out the front row of the grid.
Bottas surprised everyone with an imperious lap on his first run with a time of 1:15.875, over a tenth ahead of Hamilton, as he finished ahead of F1 title rival Max Verstappen.
“It was an awesome lap, the first run in Q3,” Bottas said after qualifying. “I couldn’t quite match the same last sector in the second one but honestly that first run in Q3 was one of my best laps. Higher temperatures this afternoon than this morning came our way I think.”
The slipstream along the main straight was crucial and with Verstappen getting a tow from Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez on the final run as they looked to usurp the Mercedes team, the Mexican went off the track and Verstappen was unable to get better than third as he locked up in the final stages of his flying lap.
Verstappen had dominated the weekend up to that point, thus Mercedes taking the front row is a bit of a shock, with the Dutchman now behind Hamilton on the grid for the Mexican GP, as we go into the first of five races over six weeks.
Further down the grid
Elsewhere, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly once again turned in a magnificent performance as he was just over a tenth behind the Red Bull of Perez and ahead of both Ferrari cars and the McLarens.
Carlos Sainz qualified in sixth place, beating his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc who could only come in eighth, with Daniel Ricciardo in his McLaren between the pair of Scuderia drivers. Yuki Tsunoda was ninth in the second AlphaTauri, while Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.
Esteban Ocon in the second Alpine ended up 15th as his final flying lap was compromised when Antonio Giovinazzi hit the wall causing a yellow flag. As a result, the two Alfa Romeo’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi sandwiched George Russell’s Williams, while Sebastian Vettel was just outside the top 10, bringing his Aston Martin home in 11th.
Trouble in Q1
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll hit the wall coming out the last corner in Q1 which resulted in a red flag. But after the session was restarted, Fernando Alonso in the Alpine was the surprise elimination as he could only place his car in 16th.
Elsewhere, Haas driver Nikita Mazepin took to team radio to complain about teammate Mick Schumacher being too slow, though both Haas men were knocked out in Q1. The Williams of Nicholas Latifi finished 17th and never made it through to Q2 unlike his teammate Russell.