Lewis Hamilton has beaten team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix by two-tenths of a second as Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was a close third.

While Hamilton never seemed troubled in any of the three session in qualifying, Rosberg struggled to set competitive times as he was left fighting for position against the Ferraris and Red Bulls. The championship leader managed to put together a flying lap in the end to secure second on the grid while both Red Bulls edged out the Ferrari duo.

Both Mercedes drivers set their fastest lap in Q2 on the soft tyres, which means they will start the race on the softs, while Verstappen will take to the grid on the super softs.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth as the Australian was another driver who struggled for pace around the circuit, consistently out-paced by Verstappen throughout the day. Verstappen managed to dip down into the 1:18s in Q2 to be the only non-Mercedes driver to do so, however, wasn’t able to repeat his efforts in Q3.

Force India endured a mixed qualifying session, while Sergio Perez failed to make the Q3 cut by two-tenths of a second, his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg registered a brilliant lap to move him ahead of the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who could only manage sixth and seventh position respectively.

Raikkonen was on a flying lap when he ran into problems, with the team telling the Finn he may have an engine failure causing him to abort his lap.

While Vettel wasn’t able to challenge the leaders for a top three position, the German will start tomorrow’s race on the more durable soft compound tyre, as he set his best lap in Q2 on the yellow-banded Pirelli tyre.

The four-time world champion found himself in hot water with a number of his rivals in qualifying, as he was on the receiving end of criticism for impeding flying laps, including Hamilton in Q2.

The two Williams drivers managed to register late laps in Q2 to promote themselves into the top 10 at the expense of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Valtteri Bottas managed to out-qualify his team-mate for eighth position, while Massa beat Carlos Sainz to ninth position by three-tenths of a second.

Qualifying was over before it even began for Jolyon Palmer, as Renault found a crack in the Briton’s chassis about half an hour before qualifying was due to begin. Palmer was forced to sit out of the session and will line up last on the grid, while team-mate Kevin Magnussen made it into Q2 and beat Marcus Ericsson to 14th place.

Pascal Wehrlein also managed to make it into Q2 for Manor as both Haas drivers ran into trouble. Wehrlein will line up 16th on the grid as he set his time on used super softs, while Ericsson, who was two-tenths ahead, set his time on a new set.

Romain Grosjean was again vocal about his Haas being “undrivable”. The Frenchman struggled to get his front tyres to an optimum temperature and failed to make it out of Q3. His team mate Esteban Gutierrez looked like he was on for a chance to make it into Q2, however, the Mexican spun in the middle sector on his final lap which allowed Wehrlein to sneak 16th from the Haas.

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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Josh Kruse

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