Haas had a session to forget in Mexico. First Grosjean had to abort his initial hot lap after making a mistake. Gutierrez likewise was struggling for grip and both were in danger when they started their second timed laps. Gutierrez spun at Turn 10 to scupper his effort, and the resulting yellow flags meant Grosjean had to lift off, ruining his. Both exited in Q1.
Romain Grosjean, 21st, 1:21.916
“I really don’t know what’s happening. The car was good in FP1 and it was alright on the first run this morning in FP3, but after that it’s just gone nowhere. We really need to try to analyze what’s going on as something is clearly not going right. Last on the grid is unacceptable for us. Top speed has been fine, but there’s no grip and no balance. You can manage poor grip and drive around it if you’ve got a balanced car, but combined, there’s just nothing you can do. One corner will be oversteer, the next understeer. It’s weird the way it’s behaved here. It’s been a rough weekend for everyone, but hopefully we can come back."
Esteban Gutierrez, 17th, 1:21.401
“It’s been quite a challenging weekend for us. Heading into qualifying, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I really gave it my best. I was driving over the limit trying to put everything together for the team and for the fans – they have been incredible. I had to try to be aggressive as I knew the lap at the beginning of the run may not have been enough. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t, but at least I know I gave it the maximum. When I got out of the car, I wasn’t very happy, but walking along the pit lane everybody was cheering, and it was an amazing feeling just to see their support. They’ve made a huge difference to our motivation and I really want to thank them all.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Obviously, we were not very hopeful today after we struggled from FP1 to FP3 to understand these tyres, to get them in the window to work. Nevertheless, last week we started 17th and ended up in the points. This is very weird how the tyres behave here, with the track temperature coming up as it did in 10 minutes. Everybody seems to be a little bit lost with where it is going. We just need to keep our heads down today and try to do the best for tomorrow. We’ll see how it pans out. Like always, it’s a difficult moment today, but we hope for a better one tomorrow.”
Red Bull opted to set their best times in Q2 on the supersoft tyres, which could make the race start interesting with Mercedes starting on the softs. Both drivers were in the hunt for pole, but unfortunately at the end of Q3 neither could find the pace to challenge the Silver Arrows. Verstappen shaded Ricciardo for third by less than a tenth of a second.
Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:19.054
“I am very pleased with the way qualifying went, we have put ourselves on the second row again which means we are in an ideal position to fight from the start. All weekend we have had a good car. We are still just a little down on top speed which makes it hard to compete with the Mercedes in qualifying, but we are still pretty close so that is a good achievement. My Q2 lap was really good and felt quick but I just couldn’t find the same grip levels in Q3 which meant I was slightly slower. I struggled in sector one which is usually my best sector, that shows how the grip can change in a matter of minutes. It’s still a hard lap out there, everyone is in the same position and has to adapt to the slippery conditions. It’s fun, but a different kind of fun. At some tracks you can have a perfect lap but here it is so hard. It is a long run into Turn 1 and we start on the supersoft compound so our chances of making progress straight away is high. Race pace looked strong which means we are looking forward to tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 4th, 1:19.133
“I think the fight was there but to be honest, my last lap was terrible. I was fighting it already out of Turn 1 and by Turn 6 I was nearly four tenths slower than my previous lap. We managed to recuperate some of that but looking at the gap to pole it was only four tenths so it could have been a lot better but it also could have been a lot worse. It’s just like that with a new surface, it’s still very slippery here and it’s hard to find that happy medium. In that last run in Q3 we definitely lost some performance, particularly in the first half of the lap but we’re still on the second row so that’s okay and I’ll take that. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I think we can have a good race but to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow after this qualifying is difficult.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“An exciting qualifying and a great performance by both of our drivers to lock out the second row for the eighth time this season. We got mighty close to splitting the Mercedes with Nico just sneaking ahead of Max right at the end. In adopting a different strategy to the cars around us by starting on the supersoft tyres tomorrow it creates a strategically interesting race which should make for an exciting grand prix.”
More of the same for Williams, who qualified eighth and ninth for the second race in a row. Bottas had a couple of big lock-ups but both drivers made it through to Q3. They attempted to do this on the softs, but in the end had to use the supersofts to progress and thus will start the race on that compound. They will be keen to continue to eat into Force India's points advantage in the constructors championship.
Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:19.551
"It was a very good qualifying session and we finished more or less where we should have done today. It was a shame we couldn’t get through with the option tyre because now we’re starting the race on supersofts. We just really need to try and be clever with our strategy because there’s a big difference between the supersoft, soft and the medium tyre on this track in terms of tyre life. We need to make sure we get everything right tomorrow. It’s a good starting point for the race. We’ve split the Force India’s, so the main thing is we try and be ahead of both of them. We can beat them."
Felipe Massa, 9th, 1:20.032
"That was a very difficult qualifying session. I was struggling to make the tyres work. We tried on the preparation lap, and again on the first lap. We tried everything, but I just couldn’t make them work. My best lap time was actually this morning when I had more fuel and less deployment on the engine. Then, with everything set up in the perfect way for qualifying, unfortunately I couldn’t get a better lap time. Despite that, we are in the top ten. We know that the race tomorrow will be difficult, but we need to concentrate on scoring more points than Force India."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
"We tried to see if we could get through on an option tyre in Q2, knowing that we had a reasonable margin to get through, but it became clear that this wasn’t the case so we put on supersoft tyres which got us through reasonably comfortably. It was then a case of maximising Q3. We did a warm up lap followed by a flying lap to start, but on the second run we tried a different strategy pushing on our first timed lap. We lost a little bit of time at the start of the lap and then found a bit of time at the end. In the end, the lap times were very similar and I think that is the most we could have got out of the cars. Both drivers were happy with the balance, but there was just a general lack of grip out there this afternoon compared to this morning’s session. Importantly, we have put ourselves in a reasonable position for the race which is key for our championship hopes, so we need to push on and make the most of it."
Palmer was ruled out of qualifying before it had even begun, as a crack was found in his chassis after FP3. It was unlucky, as he had shown glimpses of good pace in practice. Renault's hopes were pinned on Magnussen therefore, and the Dane didn't disappoint, making Q2 and qualifying 14th.
Kevin Magnussen, 14th, 1:21.131
“I’m fairly pleased with qualifying. FP3 was tricky for us, the car handled very strangely and tyres weren’t working which I think was down to the cool temperatures. Qualifying felt better and I don’t think I could have done much more today. Even if I got a perfect lap I think P13 was likely out of reach here.”
Jolyon Palmer, no time set
“Unfortunately I had to sit out qualifying which was really frustrating as we looked pretty good in FP3 and I’ve been feeling happy with the car. I ran wide and straddled the kerb in the last corner during FP3. I felt a bump, but it didn’t feel like it was a big one, so I was surprised when we discovered the chassis was broken. Q2 was definitely on the cards today. We’re going to have to go all out to get points tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
"On one side of the garage Kevin did a great job to get into Q2 and set the fourteenth fastest time. On the other side of the garage, sadly Jolyon was unable to participate as his crew were busy changing the chassis, which is obviously frustrating as he should also have been in Q2, as demonstrated by his FP3 pace. A crack was discovered on his chassis after FP3. This was likely caused when he ran over a kerb during that session. The crack was on the underside of the chassis near to the seatbelt mount so we had to change chassis for safety reasons, and this takes more time than there was available between the sessions.
"The weather was a step warmer today and should be a step warmer again tomorrow which helps the tyres deliver their performance. The medium compound shows next to no degradation so we have to look at the possibilities offered by the other two compounds. Kevin is well placed to work up the order. Jolyon will start from the back of the grid so we have to consider the different strategy permutations for him. Given his position we have the option to run an aggressive strategy with him if it looks like the way to go."
Contrasting fortunes for Toro Rosso. Kvyat developed technical issues in Q1, casuing a loss of power and forcing him into the pits. He was a helpless spectator as others improved their times to drop him out in the first part of qualifying. Sainz fared better, making it to Q3, and securing tenth.
Carlos Sainz, 10th, 1:20.378
“I’m very pleased! It’s being a tricky weekend because of the challenging track conditions. If I say the truth, at the start of Q1 I thought it was going to be difficult to get into Q3… And here we are, P10 again for the second consecutive time in one week! It’s a massive achievement for me and the team! I’m feeling very confident in the car lately and I think this is part of the reason why we are achieving these positive results: I can push straight away, develop my weekend well and make it to these positions. I’m going through a good moment and both the team and I can be extremely proud about this – what we’ve been achieving during these two couple of races is not easy! I’m very happy. Tomorrow it will be tough: We don’t have the tyre-strategy advantage and we will need the supersoft tyre to work well during my first stint, as the guys behind will be pushing to get past me. We need to be cautious but we will for sure have some fun!”
Daniil Kvyat, 18th, 1:21.454
“What a shame… I suddenly lost power because of an electrical issue after my first Q1 lap, so unfortunately my qualifying session ended early today. I have to say that up until that point I was feeling good in the car, even if the track was constantly changing – I’m sure I would’ve easily got through to Q2. Let’s see what happens in tomorrow’s race – it should be an interesting one and we will definitely try and do our best!”
Jody Egginton, Head of Vehicle Performance
“It has it been all about tyres today, managing them in an FP3 programme with the lower track temperatures and also in qualifying with higher track temperatures. Both cars completed FP3 programmes using the supersoft tyres, with Carlos finding a good balance straight away, whilst Daniil’s engineers conducted a further set-up adjustment after the baseline run in order to improve the balance further. Changes to both cars ahead of qualifying were limited to fine-tuning for the track temperature change, which meant we headed into qualifying being able to focus on tyres and any required aero balance fine-tuning, run to run. Q1 passed without incident for Carlos, while Daniil suffered an electrical issue on the in lap of his first run, which resulted in PU power loss. His mechanics worked hard to isolate the fault and rectify it but, with Daniil’s first run unfortunately not being quick enough to make the cut for Q2, the available time was too short to get him back out. With Carlos we elected to run a used supersoft tyre for the first run of Q2, following this up with a new supersoft tyre, this run being good enough to make Q3. We applied the same approach to Q3, running used then a new tyre. However, in line with a few other runners, we were not able to improve the lap time on the new tyre so ended up P10. It is a good reward for the effort put in by the team but it also means we need to consider our strategy options carefully, as there are a lot of cars ahead on the soft tyre. Our focus now shifts towards the race, trying to construct the best strategies to try and get Daniil forward in the race and, in the case of Carlos, consolidate his qualifying position and then try to move forwards, if the opportunities present themselves. We have seen a lot of track improvement so far this weekend and we expect this to continue into the race. Therefore, there should be opportunities to make good use of the available compounds.”
Ferrari's pace had looked genuine, and they were right in the mix with Red Bull and Mercedes. But in Q3, Raikkonen developed an engine problem, while Vettel couldn't find the required lap when it mattered. A disappointing qualifying then, but Ferrari can be heartened that like Mercedes, they will start the race on the soft tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen, 6th, 1:19.376
"In Q1 the feeling with the car was good, better than in the morning during P3. Then in Q2 it was quite tricky to get the tyres work consistently and to know where the grip was. In the last qualifying stint we were getting there again, but in the first run I felt it a bit odd in the last part of the lap and felt I could have gone faster in a few places. On the second try, for whatever reason, I had no speed in the straight, something was not right and we could not even try to go faster. It's a pity because I think there was easily quite a lot of speed there today, but we couldn't use it. Now we have to find out what happened. Obviously it's disappointing where we finished today but tomorrow we'll see what we can do."
Sebastian Vettel, 7th, 1:19.381
"I am very disappointed, because the car is quick. Our Q2 had been a walk in the park with the Soft tyres. I had a much better feeling, but then with the Supersofts we were nowhere. Yesterday we were gaining quite a lot on the Supersoft compound and today we didn't gain anything. We tried a couple of things, but in qualifying you can't turn the world upside down: so now we need to have a look and see why. Everybody improved on the Supersofts, more or less half a second - everybody except us. The car is quick, there is nothing wrong with it, and we start where the car doesn't belong. It doesn't make our race easier to start further back, but I think we still have a chance."
Mercedes appeared to have a battle on their hands in qualifying, with both Red Bull and Ferrari looking quick. But Hamilton continued where he had left off in Austin last weekend, and grabbed pole by two-tenths. Rosberg had struggled by comparison, setting only the fourth-quickest time on his first run in Q3. But he was one of few to improve on his second run to leapfrog both Red Bulls and steal a place on the front row.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:18.704
"It's been a really solid weekend so far. Q3 was actually not great for me. Even though I got pole, it wasn't a great lap. I had a pretty serious delta throughout the session before that but then lost quite a lot of time on my first Q3 lap and then more again on my second lap. I just didn't put three sectors together in either of them. If I'd put them all together, I think there was probably another three or four tenths in there. In terms of the race, it's a long, long run down to turn one so the start will be important. But our long run pace has looked really strong and we're on the better tyre, so the signs are good. Red Bull might have a slight advantage off the line on the SuperSoft - but it looks like that tyre will grain quite badly. As always, our strategist has done a fantastic job there. Looking after the soft tyre, avoiding lockups and flat spots will give us a challenge. But the car has been great this weekend, so I hope that continues through tomorrow. This is a race I haven't won yet and I'd love to tick it off the list in front of this amazing crowd, who have been really spectacular all weekend."
Nico Rosberg, 2nd, 1:18.958
"This weekend it took a bit longer to find my rhythm. At the end of Qualifying I was quite happy with how I felt in the car and managed to pull out a good lap - but Lewis was just a bit quicker. I'm not happy to have missed out on the pole position. But, on the other hand, starting from second place here is not that bad. There are a lot of opportunities, as the straight down to turn one on the first lap is very long. We've seen a few times this year that pole is not so important. It will be a challenging race and we need to have an eye on the Red Bull. I think the Mexican fans will have an exciting Sunday. It was so great to see so many of them out there today. They are so full of passion and it feels really great to see that when you're out there on track."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We might have both cars on the front row today but that was a really tough qualifying session - and it took some special laps from Lewis and Nico to put us there. Lewis had the performance in the car all day and was able to deliver it when he needed in spite of the threat from Red Bull and Ferrari. This is a tricky circuit for putting together a clean lap but he managed two laps good enough for pole in Q3 and did it by a decent margin. As for Nico, he was having a tougher time through practice and the early parts of qualifying, struggling to get the tyres into the right window for his quick lap. He found half a second of performance on his first run in Q3, then another three tenths on the final lap to really pull it out of the bag and put himself P2. It was a great response under some big pressure. Looking at tomorrow, we will start on the Soft tyre with two Red Bulls behind us on the SuperSoft. Maybe we will have a small disadvantage off the line, so it will be a very interesting run to the first corner and a big strategic battle after that."
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
"We're very pleased to get the front row here today after what was a very tight session. We've seen swings in performance between the top three teams across all three practice sessions, with very little to choose between us. Much of this has been down to who has managed to get the tyres switched on at the right moment, with the right circuit conditions. Lewis produced two phenomenal laps to secure pole position. And while Nico had struggled to match his pace up until that point, he pulled it out of the bag at the very last minute when a front row start seemed as if it might elude him. So, overall a tremendous result. Congratulations to both drivers and to the team on a top performance."
Perez failed to make Q3 for the second race in a row. In front of a raucous home crowd, he could only manage 12th but does have the consolation of free tyre choice. Hulkenberg put in one of the laps of the session to grab P5, his best qualifying since Austria. Double points will be the target for Force India.
Nico Hulkenberg, 5th, 1:19.330
“It’s been a very good qualifying session for me and I am very happy with the result. Our car works pretty well on every circuit nowadays, but I felt it just got better and better through qualifying as the track improved. My first lap in Q3 was mega, possibly my best qualifying lap of the season, and I don’t think there was anything more I could extract from it. We need to keep ourselves out of trouble at the start but I won’t let what happened last week influence me: every time you get to turn one, there is a unique dynamic and you just have to play it by ear. We have a good idea of where we are for the race and we’ll get our head down and build on today’s result.”
Sergio Perez, 12th, 1:20.287
“It’s a shame to miss out on Q3 today, but I’m optimistic we can recover some positions in the race with a strong strategy. In Q2 we went out on the soft tyres to see if we could progress to Q3, but for my second run we switched to the supersoft tyres. Unfortunately I made a small mistake on my final lap, which ended my chance of qualifying inside the top ten. I just locked up the front tyres going into turn one and ran wide. I apologise for the mistake, but I hope I can give all my fans some happiness in the race tomorrow. The good news is that we made some progress with the car in between final practice and qualifying: our race pace looks competitive and I think we can come away with a good result tomorrow.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“Overall a satisfying qualifying session for us. Nico has been competitive all weekend and qualifying in fifth place is a fantastic effort – ahead of both Ferraris. Sergio also showed good speed today and made real progress with the car this morning. Had it not been for a small mistake in Q2 he would have joined Nico in the top ten. Starting from P12 will open up some interesting choices in terms of strategy and we are confident he can make progress in the race. It’s a huge weekend for us with great support from our Mexican partners and fan base, and we will do all we can to give everybody something to celebrate on Sunday evening. ”
There was promise shown by Wehrlein, who made Q2 for the first time since Italy. Unfortunately he was unable to challenge the likes of Ericsson and Magnussen, having to run used supersoft tyres, but 16th was still a good result. Ocon by contrast struggled with his MRT05 and could only manage 20th.
Pascal Wehrlein, 16th, 1:21.785
“Well, first of all I’m really, really happy. Especially for the team; we needed that. My fourth time in Q2 this year and that’s where we want to be. Everyone did a fantastic job all weekend and we’ve improved the car every step. After that, I just drove my heart out.
“It’s a really challenging track – always a lot of understeer and oversteer through the lap – but we just seem to have found a way through to get the car right and we’ve exceeded our own expectations here. It could have been even better though; we didn’t have new tyres for Q2, whereas others did, so I wasn’t able to improve my lap.
“P16 on the grid is great. I need a good start tomorrow, then I will push as hard as I can. We’ll be challenging the guys in front of us and I believe that everything is possible. Bring it on.”
Esteban Ocon, 20th, 1:21.881
“Not a good day for me. I’m really struggling driving the car and I don’t have the confidence in it to push. I’m second fastest in the speed trap, which doesn’t make me feel better because it shows I’m giving the maximum with the car I have but can’t get it working around the rest of the lap. I’ll still take it though, because it’s a positive from an otherwise really frustrating weekend so far. I’m happy for Pascal - it’s great for the team and that’s important.
“Oh, we can still improve for tomorrow, even with minor adjustments, so I have to remain positive for the race as we could still unlock the problem. The start, the strategy - things could turn around yet. I’ll be giving it everything I have.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“It’s a fantastic feeling for the whole team to be back in Q2, so well done to Pascal for a really excellent performance in qualifying today, after what has generally been a very positive weekend for him. He seems very at home on this circuit and his car is working well, which makes it all the more frustrating that we haven’t been able to help Esteban overcome the handling problems with his chassis. That’s something we’ll be working even harder on overnight, to try to help him for tomorrow. If we can address those issues, we can look forward to a promising race and a good fight with our competitors.”
It was a good session for Ericsson, who made it into Q2 and out-qualified Wehrlein when he got there. Nasr struggled with a lack of grip, propping up the time sheets in final practice and then exiting qualifying in Q1.
Marcus Ericsson, 15th, 1:21.536
“Another decent qualifying for us. We showed that we are working in the right direction, and it paid off. We can all be satisfied with today’s performance. We knew that reaching Q2 would not be an easy task, because the lap times were all close together. It was again nice that I was able to put in a good lap in Q1 and make the jump into Q2. P15 is a decent starting position, and I feel confident that we can continue our hunt for points tomorrow.”
Felipe Nasr, 19th, 1:21.692
“Qualifying was not as good as I was expecting. Before FP3 we chose the identical set-up to the other car, but the outcome was completely different. In general I had a lack of grip in a lot of corners phases. At least the other car seems to work, so we have a reference there. I will focus on the race tomorrow, and I am quite confident that I can recover some positions due to the pace we had on the long-runs.”
A mixed day in the McLaren garage. Both cars exited in Q2, but Alonso in P11 seemed rather happy with that result. Indeed with those ahead of him starting on used rubber, having free tyre choice may be a distinct advantage for the Spaniard, and he is on the clean side of the grid.
Fernando Alonso, 11th, 1:20.282
“I think 11th place was probably the best possible position we could dream of today in terms of race strategy, as we’ll have free choice of tyres tomorrow for the race start and we’ll be on the clean side of the track. So you could say that many things went our way today.
“Unfortunately, however, we aren’t quick enough here. A few races ago we were routinely making it into Q3 and then fighting for seventh or eighth position, which is good, but here we’re fighting for ninth or 10th position – so, that being the case, we’d rather be in 11th position. But, that’s a side-issue really: more important is that we need to understand why we’re slightly struggling for pace here.
“Tyre degradation, which will be the key factor tomorrow, has been different from team to team, from set to set and also from day to day, so I think tomorrow we’ll all be going into a slightly unknown situation. So we’ll need to be very flexible and open to strategies, and then we’ll see what we can do.
“Finally, avoiding traffic will be one of tomorrow’s priorities, since we’ll have a free tyre choice.”
Jenson Button, 13th, 1:20.673
“My run on the old tyres in Q2 was actually my best lap – I just couldn’t get the new tyres working in Sector One on my final run so I lost three-tenths there. Sectors Two and Three were good, but I couldn’t get the balance right in Sector One.
“Realistically, 11th and 12th would probably have been the best possible scenario for us, as it would have been perfect for the race. But 11th and 13th isn’t so bad either, especially as I’ll start from the clean side of the track and we get to do our own tyre strategy, which is exactly what you want for a race like this. When you’re in the top 10, ninth or 10th is not a good thing because you’re stuck if you’ve run the Supersoft in Q2. It’s a tough tyre to manage and I think tomorrow we may have a better strategy.
“Hopefully our race pace will be better tomorrow than our quali pace was today – we’re not in bad shape and I’m looking forward to the race.”
Eric Boullier, Racing director
“There have been only 16 Mexican Grands Prix in the history of Formula 1 – excluding the 1962 non-championship race – and McLaren has won three of them, which total has been matched only by Lotus and Williams and exceeds the achievements of any other team.
“That being the case, obviously we aren’t satisfied with 11th and 13th – it isn’t the kind of qualifying performance on which our team’s great heritage and reputation were built – but, having said that, it’s just about the best possible result you can get if you don’t manage to progress through to Q3.
“Fernando, in P11, will be able to select his own tyre strategy for the race – which none of the 10 drivers ahead of him will be able to do – and he’ll start from the clean side of the grid too, which may well be a significant advantage on such dusty asphalt. Jenson will be similarly advantaged, lining up for the start in Fernando’s wheel-tracks in P13.
“So, bearing all that in mind, we have reason to hope for points from both of them. It won’t be easy – it never is – but they’re two of the hardest battlers in the field and they’ll both drive their hearts out in an effort to record top-10 finishes.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
"Significantly, based on yesterday’s and today’s running, we’re now confident that our power unit’s altitude issues from last year have all been rectified and improved for this year, and we’re now able to run with the same performance here as at any other circuit. Of course, our position is still relative to the rest of the field, but it’s a good step forward for us and another target reached.
"We know the tyres take a long time to warm up on this track, so the team and drivers did a brilliant job to navigate both traffic and tyres to get a clean lap.
"It’s a slight disappointment that we missed out on Q3, but we know that the asphalt is tough on tyres here, so our current positions and the freedom to choose the start tyres for tomorrow’s race should work to our advantage."
Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director
“With the high degree of track and temperature evolution that we have seen, conditions could continue to change and perhaps come back towards the softer compounds in the race. Last year nearly all the drivers completed the race with two stops, just after a late safety car. Tomorrow some could try a single stop, especially if starting on softs. In any case, there are a number of options still open when it comes to strategy.”