Mexican Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel takes crucial pole in Mexico
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News October 28, 2017 Updated: 8:11 PM
MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took his 50th career pole and what could be a very crucial pole ahead of tomorrow's Mexican Grand Prix.
Thing's have become mission critical for the Ferrari driver as he needs to win tomorrow's race to keep his championship hopes alive, which are now on life support. An obstacle in Vettel’s way could be Max Verstappen who qualified in second. Verstappen has shown no fear to either of the two title contenders and has nothing to lose when the lights go out tomorrow.
"It is always nice to get a pole position but winning the race is more important. I am confident in the race pace of the car and that we can achieve a good result but we still have to show this tomorrow. Starting on the front row with such a long run into Turn 1 means we can hopefully get away well and ahead. We are usually quicker in the race than Qualifying so I am excited for tomorrow," said Verstappen.
However, Verstappen was under a brief investigation for possibly impeding Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas who finished fourth. Ultimately, the stewards took no action on the incident. Lewis Hamilton, who has not had an easy weekend, finished third but some may still see it as an easy weekend for the three time champion as he only needs to finish tomorrow's race fifth or better to take his fourth world title.
"Pole position was the goal today, but it wasn’t meant to be." Hamilton said. "It was a difficult session and I think it was a difficult weekend overall. It is very slippery here; and some of the issues we have with the car are a little bit highlighted by that. I gave it everything I had, but the gap to the front was too big. Our long run pace is definitely better than our qualifying pace, so I’m not worried about that. But you need a big delta to overtake here, so track position is important. It is a long way down to Turn 1, so we should have some fun tomorrow.
Fifth went to Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen followed by Force India's Esteban Ocon. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh as he struggled to hook up a good lap.
Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz took eight and ninth. Sunday's race will be a special one for Sergio Perez, who finished tenth, as he hopes to put on a good show for his home crowd. Perez has dawned a special helmet paying tribute to Mexico City and its people that where hit by the three massive earthquakes that rocked the city last month.
"We have been very competitive all weekend, but we couldn’t achieve the result we wanted at the most important moment. I was quite satisfied in Q1 and our pace showed a lot of promise, but as the conditions changed we weren’t able to respond. We changed our tyre warm-up routine and I lost all my feeling with the car. Getting the tyres in the right window was difficult and I was unhappy with the balance: it’s something we will need to analyse tonight. Tomorrow’s race will be challenging, but our car has very good pace," said Perez.
Outside the top ten were the Williams’ pair of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll who took 11th and 12th.
Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley ran into an engine issue leaving him in 13th. McLaren, who has an unfortunate penalty filled weekend, is hoping to end their final season with Honda on a high note.
“Today was a little bit frustrating! I’m a bit disappointed as I didn’t get to put everything on the line and I think we had a chance to be fairly up the pack; to be ahead of the Williams was definitely on the cards today. Braking into Turn 1 in Q2 I felt like it was spot on and I was pumped up for the lap, when the engine went bang… I don’t know what happened! My confidence has been building all the time, lap after lap, and I was really looking forward to Q2 to really give it a crack. I’m feeling better and better in the car and, if Austin was a tough ask, I’ve come here a lot more prepared… that’s for sure," said Hartley.
Fernando Alonso showed strong pace in Q1 qualifying 14th as did Stoffel Vandoorne finishing in 15th. Both drivers will be sent towards the back of the grid after their penalties are applied. After a reshuffling of the grid, Brendon Hartley moves to 13th and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson will now start from 14th.
Other drivers who will enjoy a move up the grid are Pascal Wehrlein, who will start in 15th followed by the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen in 16th and teammate Romain Grosjean in 17th with Alonso and Vandoorne now starting from 18th and 19th. Pierre Gasly had an unfortunate Saturday as he encountered an engine issue before the start of Q1 and was unable to participate.