Mexican Grand Prix 2017: What we learned from qualifying
Here is what we learned from an eventful qualifying session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took pole.
Mayhem at Toro Rosso
Things were looking promising as Toro Rosso came into this weekend having finally confirmed their driver line-up for the rest of 2017 and 2018. However, that promise was short lived as both drivers, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, had massive engine issues and will need engine replacements.
Gasly did not take part in qualifying at all whereas Hartley, who did well to take his Toro Rosso to Q2, could not go any further as smoke burst out of the back of his car during a hot lap. The engineers at Toro Rosso will have a long night ahead as they have a double engine replacement to deal with before the race tomorrow. Both drivers will get a 15-place grid penalty for the replacements.
Red Bull are looking strong
Despite Max Verstappen only managing P2 thanks to a magical lap set by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to take pole, Red Bull have looked strong all weekend. They were consistently strong through all the practice sessions and with Verstappen on the front row of the grid, the team still look to be firm contenders for the win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
An explosive start by Verstappen and a consistent Ricciardo could mean trouble for Ferrari and, more importantly, Mercedes, who will want Hamilton to finish fifth or better to win his fourth world championship.
Ferrari and Vettel look to fight till the end
Despite his championship hopes being all but gone, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are looking to take the fight till the end. Today’s pole lap was a good sign of this as Vettel pulled off a blinder to put his Ferrari on pole with a time of 1:16:488, edging out Max’s fastest lap by 0.086 seconds.
With Hamilton starting from third, Ferrari will hope for a strong start and good race pace from both Vettel and Raikkonen as they look to drag the championship fight out as much as possible. Of course, with all that said, luck will be a huge factor in this as Hamilton is in no mood to make errors as he can feel that the championship trophy is well and truly in his hands.
Sainz switch already paying dividends for Renault
Despite finishing below his teammate Nico Hulkenberg in today’s qualifying session, Carlos Sainz is the best thing to have happened to Renault this year. The French team is locked into a battle with Toro Rosso and Haas for sixth spot in the constructors’ championship and a strong driver like Sainz is already showing gains for his new team.
He qualified ninth today, right behind his seasoned teammate. On loan from Toro Rosso, Sainz is consistently proving his worth as he racked up points for himself and his new team last weekend in Austin, and is looking to do the same this weekend in Mexico. Here is hoping that Renault use this momentum to close this year out on the front foot and set themselves up for a strong showing in 2018.
On a track that is rather high in terms of altitude, downforce can be scarce. If this qualifying session is any indicator, we are in for an exciting Mexican Grand Prix tomorrow.
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