2018 Mexico GP Qualifying: Ricciardo pole as Red Bull rampant
  Pole position qualifier Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing celebrates after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico. (Photo credit: Mark Thompson, Getty images)

2018 Mexico GP Qualifying: Ricciardo pole as Red Bull rampant

The Australian clinched pole position in a closely-run Qualifying showdown, after he edged his teammate by less than half a tenth on Saturday.

Matthew Watkinson

Red Bull had been in scintillating form prior to qualifying, setting the pace with a practice hat-trick and they showed no signs of slowing down, registering pole position.

The British based team had been in supreme form this weekend and they asserted their dominance again in Qualifying, securing Daniel Ricciardo his second pole position of the season ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton must finish 7th or higher to be crowned World Champion for the fifth time in his illustrious career. The Brit beat Championship rival Sebastian Vettel to third place and is on course for a memorable race on Sunday.

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Qualifying 1 – Haas’ hit double trouble

Mercedes topped the table in the opening session, setting late times on the fastest hyper-soft tyre as Valtteri Bottas edged Hamilton by less than a tenth, ahead of the two Red Bull’s.

Haas had both cars out of qualifying in the first session for the second year running with both drivers struggling for pace around Mexico.

Romain Grosjean will be demoted three places on the grid after causing an incident last time out and the Frenchman limped to a 16th place finish ahead of Kevin Magnussen who also struggled to 18th.

Stoffel Vandoorne was out-qualified by his teammate Fernando Alonso again in Q1. The Belgian was only a tenth behind Alonso but found himself watching his teammate from the pit lane in the following session after an early exit.

Williams again continued to show a lack of pace with both Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin rounding off the grid.

Q2 – Mexico misery for Perez

22-year-old Verstappen showed his potential clinching the fastest time in the second session.

Toro Rosso driver, Pierre Gasly, will start from the back of the grid after an engine change and the decision was made that the 2019 Red Bull driver would not set a time as the Frenchman placed 15th, one place ahead of Australian teammate Brendon Hartley.

Sergio Perez couldn’t lift the Mexican supporters at his home Grand Prix as he ended the session behind his teammate Estaban Ocon in 13th place, with the latter in 11th.

Alonso missed out on the top ten and will start in 12th place, a better than expected starting position for the Spaniard in his final Formula 1 race around Mexico.

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Q3 – Front row lockout for Red Bull

Red Bull secured their first one-two of the turbo era and Ricciardo managed to set a new track record ahead of his teammate Verstappen who will feel the session was an opportunity missed to clinch his first ever pole position after dominating practice earlier in the weekend.

In the opening round of laps, Verstappen edged Vettel by under two tenths, a stunning lap by the Dutchman putting himself ahead of the rest of the top five who were separated by just a tenth.

Vettel will be hoping for a miracle on Sunday after finishing behind Hamilton, as the German finds the title further slipping out of reach as the Championship approaches its conclusion.

Renault proved ‘best of the rest’ with an impressive 7th for Nico Hulkenburg, and 8th for Carlos Sainz ahead of both Sauber cars.