RACE DEBRIEF

    For the first time this season, neither Ferrari driver managed to qualify in the top three as Carlos Sainz finished fifth and Charles Leclerc seventh on Saturday in Mexico City.

    Leclerc finished third in Q1 but fell to eighth in Q2 and seventh overall. After qualifying, the Monegasque driver was concerned with the drivability of his car, and he offered an in-depth explanation as to why he couldn’t contend for pole at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

    READ MORE: 'It was our pole to have' says Russell as he and Hamilton rue Q3 mistakes in Mexico City

    “It was a difficult session but there is a problem, I’m sure,” began Leclerc. “We need to look into it. It was mostly engine-wise; we were losing a lot of time down the straight and there were loads of problems with drivability. The throttle was not really… I mean the engine was not responding to the throttle input I was giving.

    “Especially in the high speed it was extremely difficult. I really hope we can fix that for tomorrow. If yes, I feel confident we can have a good result, if not I’m not sure how it will go.

    “I think this is really a one-off. For me it was really strange. We need to look into it and I hope we can find something for tomorrow.”

    FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen starting P1, but no pole-sitter has finished on the podium here since 2016

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    Sainz qualified fifth as Bottas split the Ferraris in qualifying

    Sainz, who topped FP1 on Friday, managed second in Q2 by 0.008s to session leader Lewis Hamilton, but fell to fifth in Q3. The Spaniard was at a loss to explain why he couldn’t put together a lap for pole on Saturday.

    “It was a fight. A clear fight out there, I think you could see it from the outside. I don’t know if we haven’t nailed the set-up, or we just got it wrong with tyres or the altitude is just affecting us a bit too much here, but it’s clear the car over one lap hasn’t been as competitive as it has been in other Grands Prix,” said Sainz.

    READ MORE: Verstappen fends off Mercedes pair for maiden Mexico City pole

    He added: “For me, it was more the unpredictability of our car more than anything else.

    “And now we need to focus clearly on putting a good race together knowing that this weekend we might not be the fastest. When the car is so tricky, putting a good lap together in quali is always tricky.”

    Ferrari hold a 53-point lead over Mercedes – who have George Russell starting second and Lewis Hamilton third on Sunday – in the fight for third in the constructors’ championship.