Mercedes spring a huge shock by securing pole position for Mexican GP

06-11-2021 21:25
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Mercedes spring a huge shock by securing pole position for Mexican GP

Mercedes spring a huge surprise by locking the front-row out for the Mexican Grand Prix. At altitude, the circuit in Mexico City favours Red Bull Racing but it's Valtteri Bottas who takes the spoils with P1 on Saturday as the 2021 World Championship battle heads up. Max Verstappen will start from third-place. 

Verstappen lost some time on his first lap of Q3 with a small slide caused by oversteer. This opened the door for the Mercedes drivers and Bottas took advantage by going 0.350 seconds faster than Verstappen. A piece of tape sat on the corner of Verstappen's rear wing which could've led to the lack of grip experienced by the Dutchman. 

On the final run of Q3, Verstappen got a better slipstream from Perez. The Mexican ran wide later in the lap. Verstappen was unable to improve and knock Mercedes off the top spot. 

Lance Stroll crashed heavily in the first qualifying session resulting in a fairly lengthy red-flag delay whilst the barrier was repaired. The Canadian climbed out of the car and has since confirmed that he is feeling okay. The Aston Martin driver will start from the back of the grid anyway due to an engine change, though more might be needed following the shunt. 

Red Bull mechanics worked on the rear wings of both cars during the session. Lando Norris was taking a grid penalty, but the Brit made it through to Q3 and McLaren ensured he would be able to give Daniel Ricciardo a tow to help them in their battle with Ferrari. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz had some power issues during the session, but he managed to solve the problem with some help over the radio. 

Q1

The Williams mechanics were extremely busy between FP3 and qualifying because George Russell required an engine change. Mercedes opted to apply some small last-minute changes to their set-up whilst both Red Bull cars had their rear wings off before the session started. A number of drivers including Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris will take grid penalties due to changes in the engine. Russell himself takes a five-place penalty for a new gearbox, though the Brit didn't get any extras following the work on Saturday afternoon. 

Stroll ran wide at the final corner and lost control of the car. He slid into the barrier and left plenty of debris on the track. The red flag dropped with 11 minutes left on the clock in Q1. Perhaps crucially, Red Bull had started their fast lap and therefore used a set of soft tyres. Mercedes were yet to cross the start line. The Red Bull mechanics continued to work on the rear wing during the red flag stoppage. 

AlphaTauri were keen to get back on the circuit as they formed a queue at the bottom of the pitlane. With the green flag, Carlos Sainz had a power issue but the Ferrari crew managed to fix it over the team radio. With two minutes remaining in the session, Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Russell and Stroll sat in the elimination zone. Russell managed to escape from the drop zone and was replaced by Alonso. Track evolution also became apparent with Leclerc and then Bottas going fastest. 

OUT - P20 Stroll, P19 Mazepin, P18 Schumacher, P17 Latifi, P16 Alonso  

Q2

All drivers came out of the pits on the medium tyres. The tyre that is used to set the fastest lap on in the second qualifying session is the tyre the driver uses to start Sunday's Grand Prix. After the first run, just 0.016 seconds separated Verstappen and Hamilton. 

At the halfway stage in Q2, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Ocon, Russell and Vettel sat in the elimination zone. The Aston Martin driver reported on his team radio that he had a visor tear-off stuck in his rear wing. 

Vettel improved but couldn't escape. He missed out by around two-tenths. Antonio Giovinazzi caused a brief yellow flag period by running close to the barriers. He managed to get the engine running. 

OUT - P15 Ocon, P14 Giovinazzi, P13 Russell, P12 Raikkonen, P11 Vettel

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