Stats | How valuable is pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix?

06-11-2021 13:30 | Updated: 06-11-2021 13:30
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Stats | How valuable is pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix?

On Saturday afternoon, the Formula 1 teams and drivers will take to the circuit in Mexico to try and set the fastest lap to secure pole position for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix. But how advantageous is pole position at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Over the season, Max Verstappen has qualified on pole position nine times. His rival for the World Championship Lewis Hamilton has only qualified on pole position three times. Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas both have two pole positions each, whilst Lando Norris has also managed to notch up a Saturday P1 in 2021. 

Last time out in the United States Grand Prix, Verstappen qualified on pole position but he had lost the lead to Hamilton before the first corner. Eventually, Red Bull’s strategy proved to be the strongest and the Dutchman won the race despite a charging Mercedes driver in the final few laps.  

The circuit hasn’t changed since the sport returned in 2015. From the start line, the drivers face a long run down to the turn one right-hander. It’s a relatively large braking zone. This could potentially put the second-placed driver into a slipstream similar to the Russian Grand Prix circuit in Sochi. 

Statistics and history 

Looking at the stats as a whole, pole position has gone on to win the Mexican Grand Prix 45% of the time. However, that feat hasn’t been completed since the 2016 season when Hamilton went fastest on Saturday and claimed the win on Sunday. Nico Rosberg also managed to record the same feat in 2015. 

In 2017, Sebastian Vettel started from pole position but was a victim of the slipstream. Verstappen moved alongside him ahead of turn one. The two drivers touched, and then Vettel also clipped Hamilton moving the German down the field. Verstappen led every single lap of the race from there. 

In the 2018 edition, Daniel Ricciardo started from pole but didn’t get off the line well. He then also fell victim to the slipstream. Three cars went into turn one together, with Verstappen coming off better and once again leading every lap to take the chequered flag. 

The last edition took place in 2019. The two Ferrari cars locked out the front row of the grid and completed some clever teamwork on the run down to turn one. Hamilton in third place had some strong performance in the slipstream but was forced onto the grass and therefore pole-sitter Leclerc stayed ahead. 

Conclusion 

Whilst the pole position to race win conversation rate is relatively high, it’s very possible for the second or even the third-placed driver to pick up a strong slipstream down to turn one. Getting into the top five is extremely important. Only once in 20 races has a driver won from outside the top four in Mexico City. 

But anything can happen in turn one. The cars are often three-wide going into the braking zone and perhaps the pole sitter’s most important job is the defence on the straight. Ferrari proved in 2019 a one-two on Saturday is extremely helpful, and Red Bull will need Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen if the Dutchman wants to keep Hamilton in his mirrors. 

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