Lewis Hamilton led an all-Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team front row ahead of Nico Rosberg for the Mexican Grand Prix after a strange qualifying session on Saturday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The British racer was unable to improve his time of 1:18.704 on his second run as drivers struggled to get their Supersoft tyres to warm up enough, but Rosberg did manage to improve, getting to within 0.254 seconds of Hamilton as the chequered flag fell.
Both Mercedes drivers also managed to make it through to Q3 on the Soft tyres, while behind them, only Scuderia Ferrari managed the same feat, although their performance in the final session was not as impressive as the leading duo.
Max Verstappen will lead an all-Red Bull Racing second row, losing out to Rosberg in the closing stages, ultimately finishing 0.096 seconds behind, but 0.079 seconds ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Nico Hülkenberg secured an excellent fifth position on the grid for the Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team, and ended just 0.626 seconds off the pole time, but he managed to qualify ahead of both Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari went into the session with high hopes of securing a first pole position of the season, but in Q3, the performance for both cars was just not there, and Raikkonen missed out on setting a final quick lap when his SF16H suffered an engine issue that will now need to be investigated.
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth respectively for the Williams Martini Racing team, with both initially trying to make it through to Q3 on the Soft tyre before switching to the Supersoft, which also was a tactic used by Hülkenberg ahead of them.
The final place inside the top ten went to Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr, who once again showed good speed in his STR11, although he had no new sets of Supersoft tyre to use in the top ten shootout, meaning he could not improve on tenth.
Fernando Alonso was the first of those eliminated in the second session, with the Spaniard missing out by 0.113 seconds to Sainz, while the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team race was 0.005 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Force India, who struggled to match his team-mate and made a mistake on his final lap when he locked up into the first corner.
Jenson Button was almost four-tenths behind team-mate Alonso in thirteenth ahead of the sole Renault Sport Formula 1 Team racer participating in the session of Kevin Magnussen, while Marcus Ericsson once again performed well for the Sauber F1 Team, getting into Q2 along with Manor Racing MRT’s Pascal Wehrlein.
With both Ericsson and Wehrlein using the best of their tyres to get through to the session, they could not improve on their Q1 time and were forced to settle for the eighth row of the grid.
It was a disappointing session for the Haas F1 Team, with both drivers being eliminated in the opening segment, and a late session spin for Esteban Gutierrez costing Romain Grosjean an opportunity to improve his lap time. The two were running almost line astern, but when Gutierrez spun around, Grosjean was forced to take avoiding action and aborted his lap.
Gutierrez will start seventeenth ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, who endured a tough session when he complained of engine issues and saw his session come to an end without the opportunity for a second run.
Felipe Nasr was unable to follow team-mate Ericsson into Q2, finishing more than six-tenths of a second behind the Swede, while Esteban Ocon was also unable to match his own team-mate, the second Manor driver half a second behind Wehrlein, which left him down in twentieth ahead of Grosjean.
Jolyon Palmer did not participate in the session, with the second Renault driver following a crack being found in his chassis following FP3, and will start from the pit lane on Sunday.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Qualifying Result
|POS||NO.||DRIVER||NAT||TEAM||Q1 TIME||Q2 TIME||Q3 TIME||LAPS|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:19.874||1:18.972||1:19.054||14|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:19.713||1:19.553||1:19.133||15|
|5||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.599||1:19.769||1:19.330||22|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:20.457||1:20.169||1:20.378||24|
|12||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.308||1:20.287||14|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:21.454||4|
|22||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault||No Time||0|