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Mexican GP | Leclerc: An odd situation starting from pole; Verstappen: Very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty

Read what the main players had to say after a dramatic and controversial end to qualifying.

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Mexican GP | Leclerc: An odd situation starting from pole; Verstappen: Very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty
Fuente imagen: Jerry Andre - MotorLat

He had a scruffy final run in Q3, but thanks to Bottas’ crash and Verstappen’s grid penalty, Charles Leclerc will start the Mexican Grand Prix from pole position tomorrow. It’s his seventh pole of 2019, three more than Hamilton and Bottas. 

Charles Leclerc – P1 

“We knew that our competitors would be strong this weekend. After FP3, we realized that we might have a shot at pole but when they put it all together in qualifying today they were just too quick. Even if I did a lap that I was quite happy with on my first run in Q3, I was still a tenth behind Max so I tried to go out with a different setup for the last lap. Unfortunately, I ended up having some oversteer and lost time, especially in the last sector. 
It is a bit of an odd situation starting from pole now after finishing qualifying in second, but our approach will stay the same. It will be very important to retain the lead after the start. The one who is first after turn 3 will have a huge plus because cooling is a big factor for everyone here, putting the following car at a disadvantage. The straight to turn 1 is very long, so I will have to try to capitalize on our straight line speed there. I will give it my all and hope to have an exciting race tomorrow.” 

Sebastian Vettel showed strong pace throughout the weekend, but didn’t quite put it together when it mattered on the first run in Q3. Nonetheless, he starts on the front row and has a great opportunity to fight for the win tomorrow.  

Sebastian Vettel – P2  

“I am not entirely happy with today, because I could have had a better result if it had not been for the yellow flags for Bottas’ accident. On the first run I was probably a bit too cautious in sector 2 after a very good first sector, then I lost my rhythm a bit and was too aggressive in the final part of the lap and had a big snap in the last corner. I felt quite confident that I could find more time on my second run, but then the yellow flags came out. That can happen some times. 
The key tomorrow will be to have a car that works well, to look after the tyres and to choose the right strategy. The top three teams all start on the same tyre, but it will be a very close race.” 

It was expected to be a difficult weekend for Mercedes in Mexico and that’s proven to be the case so far. They improved from Friday to Saturday and Hamilton managed to beat Albon. With Verstappen’s penalty, the Brit will start in P3.  

Lewis Hamilton – P3  

"We knew coming to Mexico that this track would be difficult for us. I gave it everything today and I think I managed to extract the maximum from the car, but it simply wasn’t enough for pole. I think third place was maybe possible, but not more. P4 [P3 after Verstappen’s penalty] still puts us in a good fighting position for Sunday and I hope I get a good start. This race is always a hard one for us and I don’t anticipate it to be easy tomorrow. Maybe we’ll do the rain dance tonight for a wet track which could spice things up a little bit. But it’s going to be a real hard challenge, the Red Bulls were fastest in the long runs, so it will be very hard to keep up with them. There won’t be a huge amount of strategic variation, but it will be interesting to see whose tyres last long – that’ll be the name of the game. We’ll try to hold on to the top players, the Red Bulls and Ferraris, and I’m looking forward to that fight." 

Max Verstappen was the fastest man in Mexico today, but after failing to respect yellow flags following Bottas’ crash, the Dutchman lines up in 4th. Despite his penalty, he’ll fancy his chances of finish on the top step of the podium on Sunday with the strong pace he’s had all weekend. 

Max Verstappen – P4  

“It’s been a very good weekend so far and we have improved in every session. I enjoy driving here but of course everything needs to be working well together to get a good performance which it was today. I have to say a big thank you to the Team because the last three races have been a little more tricky for us but everyone kept pushing hard and never gave up on trying to understand what we could do better. This weekend we really showed that the hard work paid off and we have a very good car. It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race and Ferrari will be very quick tomorrow so tyre life will be important but we have a really good race car so it should be a close fight.” 

Once again in 2019, Carlos Sainz ended up best of the rest as he qualified a very strong P7. The Spaniard was just over 0.3s quicker than team-mate Lando Norris and he’ll fancy his chances of another strong points finish in the race. 

Carlos Sainz – P7  

“It’s been a good day for us. The fact that I gave it a go on the Medium tyre in Q2 is a sign that we are on the right path and it just shows the confidence that we have in the car. Without the traffic in sector 3, I would have been close to the cut, but risking Q3 with a second run on the Medium was a bit unnecessary given the pace I knew I had on the Soft. 

Anyway, another final good lap means I start behind the top teams tomorrow and that gives us a good fighting position. We will have to manage the tyres carefully but I’m very happy with today’s result. I’m proud of the whole team and of how we keep on pushing. Hopefully tomorrow we can finish it off.” 

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