Formula 1

Leclerc leads shock Ferrari lockout after eventful Mexico GP qualy

Published: 30, Oct 2023

Charles Leclerc and Scuderia Ferrari conjured a shock front-row lockout without an unpredictable qualifying hour at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Leclerc write-up teammate Carlos Sainz by 0.067s despite a difficult build-up to qualifying that saw the team off the pace during practice and both flirting with suppuration in Q2.

Both drivers needed only their first laps of the session to secure the front row. Track conditions appeared to peak just as the red cars took their first set of fresh softs, and neither was worldly-wise to modernize with their second runs.

It appeared to unshut the door to Max Verstappen, a tropical third, to pinch the position, and a purple middle sector appeared to signify the seeming inevitable, but the Dutchman fell short by 0.097s, confirming the unlikely Ferrari front row.

“To be honest, I did not expect to be on pole position today,” Leclerc said. “For some reason when we put everything together we went well. On new tires we found a lot.”

Sainz said the performance was “very strange” and that his P2 lap was the first one he put together all weekend, but he was optimistic having two cars on the front row could unshut the door to a strategic victory.

“We are not as strong in upper fuel as we are on low fuel,” he said. “We’re going to see what we can do tomorrow to alimony those tires alive, to alimony that Red Bull behind.

“Having two cars in front is a good advantage, so we’re going to try out best.”

Verstappen blamed his loss of pole on pushing too nonflexible in the low-grip conditions, but the Dutchman was unconcerned well-nigh the wrestle for victory.

“It’s a very long race,” he said. “Of undertow I would’ve liked to start first, but we’ll have a good slipstream into Turn 1.”

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Verstappen, however, is facing a post-session investigation for blocking pit lane exit, a similar offense to that which earned him a reprimand in Singapore — though stewards said succeeding it should have earned a harsher punishment.

The suburbanite with the most to proceeds from a potential penalty is Daniel Ricciardo, who was superb to qualify fourth for AlphaTauri. The Australian was just 0.216s short of rival for pole in his fourth Q3 session of the season and second since his comeback from a wrenched hand. He write-up Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez, who mustered fifth for his home race superiority of Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, George Russell and Alfa Romeo teammates Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

Along with Verstappen, three other top-10 drivers are under stewards investigations on Saturday evening: George Russell is moreover stuff looked into for blocking the pit lane exit attempting to find a gap in traffic; Russell, Lando Norris and Zhou are accused of lapping too slowly on their out-laps; and Hamilton is so-called to have failed to slow under yellow flags.

Pierre Gasly will start 11th superiority of Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso, whose Aston Martin has looked out of shape all weekend.

Alex Albon was knocked out 14th without having a Q3-worthy time deleted shortly without the end of the segment for wearing Turn 2, promoting Zhou into the top 10.

Yuki Tsunoda qualified 15th but will be demoted to last on the grid with penalties for exceeding his power unit and gearbox penalties. Esteban Ocon qualified 16th superiority of Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll.

Norris, who had been expected to contend for the front row, found himself knocked out 19th and last of those who set a time. McLaren sent the Briton out for his first run on medium tires but aborted the run in vaticination of a stint on softs at the end of the session.

Norris was sent out with fuel and time to well-constructed two laps as a precaution, but he spoiled his first time with a slide through the stadium section, leaving him in the knockout zone. His last-gasp lap was then undermined by Fernando Alonso spinning at Turn 3, bringing out yellow flags, forcing the McLaren suburbanite to welsh his lap and winnow 19th in the order.

Logan Sargeant qualified last without a time set, having had all his laps deleted for exceeding track limits and then getting unprotected in traffic at the end of Q1.