Red Bull have looked quick – very quick – this weekend in Mexico City, but it was Max Verstappen rather than Daniel Ricciardo who’d looked best-placed to take an unlikely pole. Ricciardo didn’t read the script, though, as the Australian pulled out a stunning lap – and one which surprised even his boss…
Having dominated Friday practice, Red Bull picked up where they left off in Free Practice 3, with Verstappen making it a clean sweep of pace-setting times. The Dutchman was even on provisional pole after the first runs in qualifying, but he and the rest of the field were blindsided by Ricciardo’s last-gasp effort.
“A mighty last lap from [Daniel],” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. “The second sector and third sector, he just nailed it. It sort of came from nowhere really.
“He has been a couple of tenths off all weekend and then suddenly on that last set of tyres – boom. It’s just absolutely perfect. You could hear how happy he was on the slow-down lap. I’m really pleased for him.”
Ricciardo’s effort marked his first career pole position at a circuit other than Monaco, having achieved the feat in the Principality twice before, and the Australian was ecstatic on team radio – understandable, given his recent run of five retirements in 10 races.
“I knew [that lap] was there somewhere,” said Ricciardo. “We hadn’t had the cleanest laps in practice and I just knew putting the laps together would be crucial, as always.
“I knew the pace was in the car as Max had shown all weekend from start to finish, so I knew it was all about putting a clean lap together at the end. I still wasn’t convinced as it wasn’t the cleanest but putting it on pole, I can relax now.
“I’m just super happy. It’s been a while since pole. It’s been a while since we had a pretty good weekend in general and we’ve been quick all weekend.”