F1 Mexican GP: Bottas surprises in qualifying, Verstappen stumbles

Unexpected: Finnish Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) surprised by taking pole position at the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday, ahead of title rivals, his teammate Lewis Hamilton and Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull).

Leader of the world championship with twelve points ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen was the favorite given his previous results in Mexico (victory in 2017 and 2018, pole narrowly missed in 2018 and 2019) and free practice dominated by the his.

Dutch driver Max Verstappen (Red Bull), after qualifying for the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix, November 6, 2021 at the Trois Frères circuit in Mexico City (AFP – EDGARD GARRIDO)

But “our qualifying was terrible, so it’s nothing surprising,” said the Dutchman. “The balance of the car was not so good and, on my last attempt, two guys (Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Pérez, editor’s note) came out in front of me, so I slowed down, thinking there would be a yellow flag. “

For poleman Bottas, the exact opposite happened. “It was one of my best laps,” commented the Finn. “The warmer afternoon temperatures helped us and we were able to optimize everything. It was a pleasure to drive.”

Le pilote britannique Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), lors des qualifications pour le Grand Prix du Mexique de Formule 1, le 6 novembre 2021 sur le circuit des Trois Frères à Mexico<!--endfragment--></p> (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)” style=”float:left”><figcaption>British driver Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), during qualifying for the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix, November 6, 2021 at the Trois Frères circuit in Mexico City<!--endfragment--> (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)</figcaption><p>This 100% Mercedes first line “shocks” Hamilton as much as anyone: “It’s really special”, assures the seven-time world champion, in search of a record eighth crown, and “it will allow us to deliver a nice fight. “</p>
<p>Starting with the Sunday departure at 1:00 p.m. local (8:00 p.m. French / 7:00 p.m. GMT).</p>
<p>At the first corner, at the end of the straight, Verstappen and his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez, who accompanies him on the second row, will have the advantage of aspiration if they take off better than the Mercedes in front of them. </p>
<p>Then it will be more difficult to pass on the track.  “Positions are essential here,” Hamilton remarks.  “We will work as a team to keep them behind us.”</p>
<p>– Close the gap in the championship –</p>
<p>It is essential for him in order to close the gap in the championship at the end of the 18th round out of 22 this season.  Important also for Mercedes, which has 23 points more than Red Bull in the manufacturers’ standings. </p>
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French driver Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), before the 1st free practice session of the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix, November 5, 2021 on the Trois Frères circuit in Mexico City (AFP – PEDRO PARDO)

The third row of the Mexican GP, ​​on the circuit of the Rodríguez Brothers, goes to the Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and to the Spanish from Ferrari, Carlos Sainz Jr. Follow the Australian Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and the Monegasque Charles Leclerc. , in the other red Scuderia car.

Ninth and tenth in qualifying, Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Briton Lando Norris (McLaren) will start from the back of the grid, 17th and 18th, penalized for having changed parts of their engine beyond the quota authorized per season. .

This will also be the case for French Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Canadian Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), 19th and 20th.

The Briton George Russell (Williams), 16th, is subject to a penalty of five places for premature change of gearbox.

Also to be remembered from these qualifications is Stroll’s impressive crash at the start of the session. He recalls that the Mexican track, which had not been used by F1 since 2019 (2020 edition canceled due to the pandemic), is very slippery.

The Mexican GP is back at sold-out, as before the Covid-19, with more than 250,000 spectators expected over three days, including 130,000 on Sunday.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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