F1 2016 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton grabs pole position

PUBLISHED: 20:04 29 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:05 31 October 2016

Lewis Hamilton driving in 2016 Mexican Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz/Daimler AG]

Lewis Hamilton driving in 2016 Mexican Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz/Daimler AG]

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in qualifying for the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.

The 31-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire claimed his 59th career F1 pole position with a stunning performance at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City this evening (Saturday).

Silver Arrows star Hamilton slammed in an unbelievable lap of 1m 18.704s with his first hot lap in the top 10 shootout.

After a tense qualifying session Hamilton said: ”It’s always tough trying to pull out perfect laps when it matters.”

He added: “I’m going to try to do the same thing I did last Sunday. The car feels great and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Title rival Nico Rosberg was fourth after the first runs with a 1m 19.263s, with the two Red Bulls separating the Mercedes drivers.

But Rosberg improved with this final run of 1m 18.958s to complete a 12th Silver Arrows front row lockout of the season in second place with a superb recovery lap.

Rosberg said: “Lewis’ lap was brilliant, not so much mine. I put it together in the end though to get on the front row.”

The Red Bulls locked out the second row of the grid with Max Verstappen third in the provisional qualifying results ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Verstappen clocked 1m 19.054s.

Nico Hulkenberg took fifth for Force India in the Q3 classification with Kimi Raikkoen sixth ahead of Ferrari colleague Sebastian Vettel.

The Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz completed the top 10 in qualifying.

After his 10th pole of the 2016 season so far, Hamilton said: “It’s been a really solid weekend so far. Q3 was actually not great for me.

“Even though I got pole, it wasn’t a great lap. I had a pretty serious delta throughout the session before that but then lost quite a lot of time on my first Q3 lap and then more again on my second lap.

“I just didn’t put three sectors together in either of them. If I’d put them all together, I think there was probably another three or four tenths in there.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s grand prix, Hamilton added: “In terms of the race, it’s a long, long run down to Turn One so the start will be important.

“But our long run pace has looked really strong and we’re on the better tyre, so the signs are good.

“Red Bull might have a slight advantage off the line on the SuperSoft – but it looks like that tyre will grain quite badly.

“As always, our strategist has done a fantastic job there. Looking after the soft tyre, avoiding lockups and flat spots will give us a challenge.

“But the car has been great this weekend, so I hope that continues through tomorrow.”

Hamilton added: “This is a race I haven’t won yet and I’d love to tick it off the list in front of this amazing crowd, who have been really spectacular all weekend.”

After snatching second place in qualifying, Rosberg said: “This weekend it took a bit longer to find my rhythm.

“At the end of qualifying I was quite happy with how I felt in the car and managed to pull out a good lap – but Lewis was just a bit quicker.

“I’m not happy to have missed out on the pole position. But, on the other hand, starting from second place here is not that bad.

“There are a lot of opportunities, as the straight down to Turn One on the first lap is very long.

“We’ve seen a few times this year that pole is not so important. It will be a challenging race and we need to have an eye on the Red Bull.”

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff described his drivers’ laps as “special”.

“We might have both cars on the front row today but that was a really tough qualifying session – and it took some special laps from Lewis and Nico to put us there,” said Wolff.

“Lewis had the performance in the car all day and was able to deliver it when he needed in spite of the threat from Red Bull and Ferrari.

“This is a tricky circuit for putting together a clean lap but he managed two laps good enough for pole in Q3 and did it by a decent margin.

“As for Nico, he was having a tougher time through practice and the early parts of qualifying, struggling to get the tyres into the right window for his quick lap.

“He found half a second of performance on his first run in Q3, then another three tenths on the final lap to really pull it out of the bag and put himself P2.

Mexican Grand Prix: Event stats

• Start time: 13:00hrs local/19:00hrs GMT.

• Race distance: 71 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps).

• Safety Car likelihood: High. A late-race Safety Car period last year is the only data that we have to go on for the re-profiled layout.

• When to press record: The drivers’ parade. Every lap of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is spectacular, but nothing beats the drivers’ parade for atmosphere. More than 40,000 people fill the stadium section at the end of the lap and they chant each of the driver’s names as they come through.

• Don’t put the kettle on…Last year’s race was won on a two-stop strategy, Nico Rosberg pitting on laps 26 and 46. The first one-stopper home was local hero Sergio Perez, in eighth position, who made his only pitstop on lap 18. Expect two stops to be more marginal this year, due to the presence of the Supersoft compound for the first time.

• Tyre choices: Supersoft/Soft/Medium, as was the case in Austin last weekend.

“It was a great response under some big pressure.”

Wolff added: “Looking at tomorrow, we will start on the Soft tyre with two Red Bulls behind us on the SuperSoft.

“Maybe we will have a small disadvantage off the line, so it will be a very interesting run to the first corner and a big strategic battle after that.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive director, felt it was a “phenomenal” performance by Hamilton.

Lowe said: “We’re very pleased to get the front row here today after what was a very tight session.

“We’ve seen swings in performance between the top three teams across all three practice sessions, with very little to choose between us.

“Much of this has been down to who has managed to get the tyres switched on at the right moment, with the right circuit conditions.

“Lewis produced two phenomenal laps to secure pole position. And while Nico had struggled to match his pace up until that point, he pulled it out of the bag at the very last minute when a front row start seemed as if it might elude him.

“So, overall a tremendous result. Congratulations to both drivers and to the team on a top performance.”

In Q2, Hamilton briefly went quickest with a 1m 19.137s before Max Verstappen ducked under 1min 19s with a time of 1min 18.972s.

Hamilton said: “I got blocked by Vettel.”

Rosberg, meanwhile, struggled for pace and was P5 after his first Q2 flyer, with the top six covered by just a second.

The German went out for another run, although there was no improvement, and he stayed fifth with a time of 1m 19.761s.

Watched by former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and Barcelona legend Carles Puyol, Hamilton was earlier fastest in the first phase of qualifying with a lap of 1m 19.447s ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Stevenage-born three-time world champ said over the team radio: “I messed up the first two laps but it felt good on the third.”

Daniel Ricciardo was third in the Q1 classification, with Sebastian Vettel fourth, Max Verstappen fifth and Rosberg sixth with a time of 1m 19.996s.

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