F1 2015 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton starts on front row
PUBLISHED: 10:12 01 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:12 01 November 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after a close run qualifying session.
The three-time F1 champion from Hertfordshire qualified second fastest at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City on Saturday evening UK time.
It was a dream Mexican debut for the Silver Arrows team with a 13th front row lockout of the season.
Nico Rosberg claimed his fifth pole of the year, his fourth in a row and 20th in F1 to date to pip Hamilton to first place in Mexico.
The Mercedes drivers were separated by just 0.014s in third practice, and then 0.188s in Q3 as Rosberg took pole with a flying lap of 1m 19.480s.
Sebastian Vettel was third in the provisional qualifying results for Ferrari with a lap of 1m 19.850s.
Then came the Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo, followed by Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in sixth and seventh places respectively.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, Mexican Sergio Perez and Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg completed the Q3 top 10.
Hamilton completed one run in Q1 (Prime), two in Q2 (Option/Option) and two again in Q3 (Option/Option).
Despite missing out on the 50th pole of his F1 racing career, Hamilton said after qualifying: “It was great out there today.
“I really enjoyed driving and we have an amazing crowd here too. They’re constantly cheering, which is great to see.
“The track got grippier so it was more fun to drive and it was quite a relaxing qualifying session in general, with no real stress.
“At some races pole really makes a difference. But at this one it I don’t really mind being second because it’s a long, long way down to Turn 1 and I plan on getting a good start.”
Did you know?
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez will have the second fastest average speed of the year, after Monza.
As for his chances of claiming his 44th career victory, Hamilton added: “The track is evolving and improving bit by bit.
“We don’t know what kind of strategy it’s going to be or how long the tyres will last –we’ll find out tomorrow! I’m looking forward to a good battle as it was very close today.”
After losing out in the United States Grand Prix in Texas last weekend, Rosberg declared himself “quite pleased” with the result after Mexican GP qualifying.
The German Mercedes driver said: “I’m quite pleased with the first half of the weekend. I have to thank my engineers because we nailed the setup and I felt great in the car.
Mexico facts & stats: The race
* Start time: 1300 (local) / 1900 (GMT)
* Race distance: 71 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps)
* 2014 winner: N/A
* 2014 pole position: N/A
* 2014 fastest lap: N/A
* Safety Car likelihood: Unknown because there is no historical data from the re-profiled track. However, there’s plenty of run-off and that usually reduces the chances of a Safety Car
* Don’t put the kettle on: On laps 20 or 46. The asphalt is new, smooth and oily and there are some fears that this combination could result in some tyre blistering. Pirelli expects most cars to complete the race on a two-stop strategy, which would mean stopping on or around these laps
* Weather forecast: Warm. Temperatures in the mid-20s are expected, but the amount of smog covering the city will have an impact on heat and air quality
“I did a pretty cool lap in Q3, which I wasn’t able to improve on the second run.
“But tomorrow [Sunday] is the day and it will be a great battle for the win between the top five – especially as we didn’t have much time to practice long runs.
“Sebastian and the two Red Bulls look strong but I’m very confident that our car is the best prepared for the circumstances.”
He also praised Mexican GP organisers. Rosberg said: “The stadiums are really phenomenal.
Mexico facts & stats: The track
* First race: 1963
* Circuit length: 4.304km / 2.675 miles
* Run to Turn One: 800m / 0.497 miles
* Longest straight: 1.314km / 0.816 miles, on the approach to Turn One
* Top speed: 328km/h / 204mph on the approach to Turn One
* DRS zones: Two – on the approach to Turn One and again on the approach to Turn Four
* Key corner: Turn 17, the newly-named Nigel Mansell Corner. It leads onto the pit straight and will influence overtaking through the DRS zones and tyre wear
* Pitlane length: 650 metres / 0.404 miles
* Major changes for 2015: The track has been re-profiled since the last Mexican GP in 1992
“I had some time to enjoy it on my in lap after Q3 and it was absolutely unbelievable. I very much look forward to race day.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, is looking forward to an exciting race, the first in Mexico since 1992 when Nigel Mansell won for Williams.
After Saturday’s qualifying session, Hamilton’s team boss said: “Wow, you couldn’t write a better script for tomorrow’s race.
“Nico put all the emotions from Austin to good use this afternoon – he’s been strong all weekend, competitive from the first run and used it to take his fourth pole position in a row. He did a perfect job.
Mexico facts & stats: The car
* Fuel consumption: 1.49kg per lap, which is on the low side
* Full throttle: 43 per cent
* Brake wear: Medium. The biggest braking point is at the end of the pit straight, where the braking forces will exceed 5g
* Gear changes: 44 per lap / 3,124 per race
“It was a tight battle with Lewis, who looked very quick through the session, and P2 is a good starting slot for him with the long run to the first corner.
“We know he will be determined to continue his winning streak. This has proven to be a tricky, slippery circuit to master and we’re in for an exciting race, especially if the predictions of light rain come true.
“It will certainly be fun watching the boys on the run to the first corner... and how they make their way through it.”
Paddy Lowe, the Mercedes team’s executive director (technical), said it was “a fantastic battle” between Rosberg and Hamilton for pole.
“It’s great to get the front row here in Mexico to set up a very exciting race,” said Lowe.
“With tyre warm-up a real challenge at this circuit, the key to success was finding the run profile that gave you the optimum lap time from the Option tyre.
“What’s more, the circuit temperature was falling through the session, and we saw the grip levels shift during Q3, with nobody improving on their second run.
“The trick on our car was to run two consecutive hard laps, with the faster time actually coming on the second of the two.
“That formula worked for both drivers, with Nico coming out just on top.”
While the Mercedes garage celebrated a front row lockout, it was another difficult day for McLaren-Honda with the team’s drivers at the back of the grid.
Fernando Alonso qualified 16th, but component changes to the ICE and gearbox saddled him with a 15-place grid penalty, relegating him to 19th place on the grid.
Alonso said: “We went into qualifying knowing that our penalties would relegate us to the last row of the grid. So there wasn’t much to gain from qualifying.
“It was more about finding out how the car felt; using up tyres and engine mileage for no reason made little sense.”
As for the race, Alonso added: “We need some rain and chaos. We have plenty of fresh sets of tyres – both dries and wets – so let’s see what we can do. Hopefully, we can recover some places in the race.”
Jenson Button also experienced another challenging day.
After Friday’s high-voltage sensor failure, his car suffered a misfire during third practice, the root cause of which could not be immediately ascertained.
As a result, the engineers were not able to ready his car in time for Q1.
He will therefore start today’s race using his existing ICE from first practice, but pre-weekend power unit penalties – 70 places – dictate that he will start from 20th place on the grid.
Button said after qualifying: “We had a misfire on my engine this morning, and we had to change it to make sure everything was okay for tomorrow, which meant I couldn’t qualify.
“Whatever happened in qualifying, I was always going to start last because of my penalties. Still, the racer in me wanted to get out there and do the best I could.
“I’ve done hardly any laps this weekend, and, without any high-fuel running under my belt, the race is going to be difficult for me.”
Looking to today’s first grand prix in Mexico for 23 years, Button added: “It’s always fun racing on a new circuit, and it’ll be exciting too, because you never know what might happen.”
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