This afternoon’s Mexican Grand Prix qualifying session looks set to be one of the closest of the season after Max Verstappen narrowly claimed the fastest time in final practice. The fastest six runners – once again filled by Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Ferrari – were covered by just four-tenths of a second at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Such was the pace in FP3 it is all but certain that last year’s pole position lap record will be obliterated by the afternoon’s dash for pole. In a highly competitive session, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel all spent periods at the top of the timesheets before being usurped by Verstappen’s Ultra Soft tyre effort of 1:17.113.

The Dutch driver’s time was just 0.075 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s best lap, while the Mercedes driver’s sole championship rival Vettel was a further one-tenth of a second behind.

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing) and Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) all closely shadowed their respective teammates to complete the top-six places on the timing screens.

Force India occupied its customary ‘best of the rest’ position, half a second adrift, with crowd favourite Sergio Pérez edging teammate Esteban Ocon. The pair shaded the Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg, who rounded out the top ten.

Toro Rosso newcomer Brendon Hartley was an impressive eleventh-fastest, giving the Italian team some cheer after teammate Pierre Gasly suffered yet another suspected Renault power unit issue. Having sat out of FP1 for Sean Gelael, the French youngster has managed just 12 laps across his two free practice outings and is desperately short of track mileage. Adding to his woes, he is set to start from the back of the grid amid engine change penalties being applied.

The Williams’ of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were cemented in the midfield, with the latter having a wild moment through the final corner and lapping four-tenths slower than his vastly experienced teammate.

After reportedly taking ill on Friday, Kevin Magnussen required clearance from the FIA medics before being allowed to participate in today’s session. The Haas driver finished 14th-fastest ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Haas teammate Romain Grosjean.

Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) were the slowest runners to post a time ahead of the sidelined Gasly.

Saturday’s qualifying session in Mexico City will begin at 13:00 local time.

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:17.113 Pirelli Ultra Soft 20
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:17.188 Pirelli Ultra Soft 23
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:17.230 Pirelli Ultra Soft 21
4. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:17.283 Pirelli Ultra Soft 18
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:17.361 Pirelli Ultra Soft 10
6. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:17.517 Pirelli Ultra Soft 27
7. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:18.040 Pirelli Ultra Soft 20
8. Esteban Ocon Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:18.165 Pirelli Ultra Soft 18
9. Carlos Sainz Jr es Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:18.208 Pirelli Ultra Soft 21
10. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:18.380 Pirelli Ultra Soft 21
11. Brendon Hartley nz Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:18.602 Pirelli Ultra Soft 23
12. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:18.690 Pirelli Ultra Soft 23
13. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:19.066 Pirelli Ultra Soft 20
14. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:19.205 Pirelli Ultra Soft 19
15. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:19.331 Pirelli Ultra Soft 27
16. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:19.565 Pirelli Ultra Soft 22
17. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:19.586 Pirelli Ultra Soft 22
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:19.826 Pirelli Ultra Soft 16
19. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:20.030 Pirelli Ultra Soft 25
20. Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 not time Pirelli Ultra Soft 2

Image via LAT Images

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.