Aston Martin Red Bull Racing missed out on pole position for the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix after Max Verstappen failed to slow down during yellow flags following Valtteri Bottas’ crash in the closing minutes of qualifying.
Verstappen was already on provisional pole position at this point but as a result of setting a faster time in the affected sector and later admitting in the press conference that he didn’t lift off despite knowing there was a crash was handed a three-place grid penalty and a fine after the session.
“It’s been a very good weekend so far and we have improved in every session,” said Verstappen. “I enjoy driving here but of course everything needs to be working well together to get a good performance which it was today. I’m very happy to get pole and with the recent form of Ferrari I didn’t expect it to be honest but the car was working really well.
“I have to say a big thank you to the Team because the last three races have been a little more tricky for us but everyone kept pushing hard and never gave up on trying to understand what we could do better. This weekend we really showed that the hard work paid off and we have a very good car.“
Looking ahead to the race Verstappen is looking forward to a battle with the two Ferrari’s ahead of him.
“It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race and Ferrari will be very quick so tyre life will be important but we have a really good race car so it should be a close fight,” he added.
Teammate Alexander Albon put in a solid performance to qualify in fifth place despite lacking track experience after missing out on most of the second practice session due to a crash.
“Qualifying fifth place was not great but not bad either,” said Albon following the session. “Considering the crash in free practice 2 yesterday, I’m quite happy and I think it was a good comeback.
“We didn’t have many laps in free practice 3 so I only really had free practice 1 to learn the track which meant it was going to be difficult coming into qualifying. I’m obviously happy for the Team and Max to get pole but I left a bit on the table on my side.“
The Thai-British driver knows there is more pace to come from the car after seeing his teammate set the fastest lap time.
“Max proved the car is better than
“Max’s race pace looked very good yesterday and the car is quick so I’ll do some homework tonight and study the data. We saw yesterday that the tyre degradation is really high so let’s see how tomorrow unfolds. I think a lot of tyre management will be needed and
Team Principal Christian Horner praised Verstappen’s performance, “Max put in a phenomenal performance throughout qualifying,” said Horner. “He was quickest in Q1, second quickest in Q2 and quickest in Q3 to achieve his second pole position of the season.
“It is a great shame that Max has lost pole position and will now start from fourth place on the grid following a penalty for being found to not slow sufficiently following Bottas’ incident.“
Switching focus to Albon, Horner admitted that he was impressed with his recovery after his crash in free practice 2.
“For Alex, after losing it in free practice 2 yesterday and reducing his track time on his first visit here it was a great recovery from him to qualify fifth and very close to Lewis ahead.
“We have some strong grid positions for tomorrow’s Grand Prix and track position is important here because it’s very difficult to overtake and follow another car at this circuit. Now let’s see what tomorrow brings.“