Lewis Hamilton qualifies third for 2018 Mexican Grand Prix
PUBLISHED: 22:28 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 22:06 28 October 2018
© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One world championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix from the second row.
The 33-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire qualified third in Mexico after a tight fight in qualifying with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo pipped Verstappen to pole position at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Hamilton third fastest for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.
Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix from P3 on the grid, with a top seven finish enough for the Stevenage-born driver to claim his fifth F1 world title.
Hamilton said: “I want to say thank you to everyone at the factory and the team here at the race track, everyone has worked really hard to get the car to where it was today.
“Red Bull were really fast in the middle sector, the Renault engine seems to be working well in the high altitude, and so does their high-downforce package.
“I think they were probably in a league of their own today, so I’m happy to be as close as I am.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Hamilton added: “Our race pace was not bad on Friday, but again Red Bull seemed to have the upper hand.
“We were able to improve quite a bit since yesterday, so I’m hoping that we will be able to fight them and maybe gain some ground at the start.
“Mexico is a great place to be and a great place to race, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Game on!”
Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas qualified P5 behind Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
Both Mercedes drivers will start tomorrow’s race on the UltraSoft tyres.
Bottas said: “The entire team did a really good job last night and today.
“It didn’t look great for us yesterday, but the car felt a lot better today; we were able to recover a lot of our performance.
“I also want to say thank you to our mechanics, they did an amazing job.
“In less than one and a half hours, they managed to take the car apart and change the engine – and the car worked well afterwards.”
The Finnish driver added: “Qualifying was pretty straightforward after the car was fixed, but I didn’t get a perfect lap together in Q3.
“It never felt as good as it did in the previous qualifying runs, but at least we’re a lot closer to the front than we were on Friday.
“The first row was probably out of reach for us today, but at least our times were very close to those of Ferrari.
“There’s a long straight here at the start, so not starting from the front might actually be an advantage if we manage to get a tow from the cars in front of us. The race tomorrow should be good fun.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was satisfied with the qualifying result after Friday’s poor pace.
He said: “A fantastic qualifying session with the top three teams covered by two tenths of a second – and congratulations to Daniel, who has had a tough time in recent races.
“As a team, we can be happy with how we recovered – we were nowhere on Friday but in the ballpark today.
“Starting from the second row with Lewis may not be the worst thing tomorrow with the long straight, certainly he will have opportunities on the way to Turn One.
“From the constructors’ perspective, it’s good to have each of our cars ahead of a Ferrari on the grid; but they are once again so fast on the straights that keeping them behind won’t be easy.
“It’s certainly going to be a very exciting run to the first corner...”
Technical director James Allison added: “This team has set some high standards in recent seasons, so it’s unusual to feel pretty jubilant with P3 and P5 in qualifying.
“But after our troubles yesterday and Valtteri’s issue in FP3, this result represents an excellent recovery.
“Overnight, we did good work on the engine side to post a competitive level of power in the thin air, while the chassis engineering team recovered the slow corner competitiveness that was missing yesterday.
“We’re under no illusions that it will be anything other than a tough race tomorrow, with Red Bull enjoying a very strong weekend and Ferrari neck and neck on outright pace.
“The top three teams are all starting on the preferred UltraSoft tyre and we have every intention of giving it our best shot to win.”