Grand Prix of Mexico – Qualifying


It seems odd that there was a weekend off between the US GP and Mexico, but I’ve heard that’s because they wanted it to coincide with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) … except that was on Tuesday!?

The weather forecast for the whole weekend is warm and dry; 0% chance of rain.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:18.341), HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, ALO, LEC, OCO, VET
    STR and TSU will start the race from the back of the grid after taking a slew of engine changes
    PER’s new exhaust is within the allocated number so no penalty for that
    The track is dusty, so it wasn’t long before PER spun in the final turn, tapping the tyre wall with his rear wing
    A few seconds later LEC did the same thing
    HAM cut across the grass at Turn 1 but failed to pass to the left of a cone before rejoining, so he was summoned by the stewards

  2. FP2: VER (1:17.301), BOT, HAM, PER, SAI, GAS, LEC, TSU, VET, ALO
    HAM called the slow-moving train of traffic “insane”
    VER set an initial fastest lap on mediums while most of the rest of the field were on hard tyres
    HAM got within 0.5sec on hard tyres but his time was deleted – apparently a recent rule change means laps times are automatically deleted if you’re in the same sector as a double-yellow
    HAM locked up, cut across the grass but rejoined correctly this time; BOT had done the same only minutes earlier
    OCO weirdly reported his Alpine was “turning itself”
    RUS reported his “gearbox has gone” but a second later said “it’s back” before being told not to change gear until he gets back to the pit lane
    RIC also appeared to have gearbox issues, with his McLaren spending a lot of the session in the garage
    VET, however, pulled into the wrong pit box and then joked with his team about it

  3. FP3: PER (1:17.024), VER, HAM, BOT, SAI, TSU, RIC, GAS, LEC, NOR
    Williams have confirmed they had to replace RUS’ gearbox, so he’ll have a grid penalty
    Looks like NOR will have a penalty too for a new power unit
    TSU reports that “oil is slippery” – there’s cement dust on the track covering the oil deposit from a support race
    SAI’s Ferrari has a twitch as he crosses the oily patch
    PER tops the timing sheet, much to the locals’ approval
    HAM locks up in Turn 1 again
    LEC spins coming out of T3
    Alpine say they’re putting a new engine in OCO’s car so he’ll have a grid penalty too – that now makes 5 drivers

Penalties: NOR, OCO, RUS, STR and TSU for engine changes.

Less than 10mins before Q1 and there’s unexpected activity in a couple of garages: no rear wing on either Red Bull, and there’s lots of work happening on RUS’ Williams
Air temperature 21°C; track 44°C

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
LAT is first out of the pits
Red Bull mechanics still applying tape to both PER’s and VER’s rear wings
LAT returns to the pits
SCH 1:21.524
RAI 1:19.108
SCH’s lap time has been deleted
GIO 1:18.820
PER is on track and the huge crowd are on their feet
SAI 1:18.583
LEC 1:17.991
Yellow flag – STR has hit the wall
Red flag – session stopped with 10:58 left of Q1
Replay shows STR was off the racing line, so on the dust in the final turn, then loses the tail and puts it backwards into the barriers which spins him around, ripping off his front suspension too
STR said he was ok but the medical car will take him for a check-up
Red Bull mechanics are busy glueing and taping the rear wings; the official line is that it’s just precautionary
Race Director Michael Masi is overseeing the rebuilding of the barrier
Aston Martin mechanics wheel STR’s car along the pit lane, closely followed by a fire marshal who seems quite keen to have a chance to use his extinguisher
5min warning for the restart; drivers start getting back into their cars
Red flag incident involving RAI will be investigated after the session
2mins before the restart and there’s already a queue forming at the pit exit: 2 AlfaTauri, 2 Haas, and more joining them
SAI coasting out of the pits; he reports “No power” and appears to be stuck in 1st gear
SAI puts the Ferrari into neutral, blips the power, then it seems to reset and he has power again
GAS 1:17.746
HAM 1:17.576 although that was a bit of a messy lap
BOT 1:17.516
PER 1:17.451
VER 1:16.788
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are MAZ, RUS, STR, ALO, OCO
OCO P10, relegates SCH to P16
ALO P13, LAT to P16
Radio from MAZ complaining teammate SCH is too slow; his engineer says he can make a space now; MAZ, “Are you having a laugh?” – ouch, that’s immature
SCH P16
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are SCH, LAT, MAZ, RUS, STR
LAT P16
LEC 1:16.748
ALO P15, LAT P16
RUS P14, ALO P16
BOT 1:16.727
Back of the grid: ALO, LAT, SCH, MAZ, STR*
*Although remember there are penalties to be applied (NOR, OCO, RUS, STR and TSU)

Qualifying session 2
Q1 pit lane incident involving RUS and LAT will be investigated after the session – I suspect that’s because they left the pit lane alongside the Haas pair at the restart
Front-runners are on medium compound tyres
PER 1:17.055
VER 1:16.483
(LEC P2) then BOT P2, then HAM P2
Radio from VER asking the team to check the car’s left side because he thinks he hit a kerb too hard
(TSU P3 on soft tyres)
Radio from VET reporting that he’s got a visor tear-off strip caught in his rear wing – how did he spot that?
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are RAI, GIO, OCO, RUS, VET
SAI does a double warm-up lap for his medium tyres
VET P11
HAM 1:16.474
Yellow flag – GIO has gone off, tapped the wall and recovers
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are VET, RAI, GIO, OCO, RUS
GIO P13
OCO P14
RUS P13
Middle of the grid: VET, RAI, RUS*, GIO, OCO*
*penalties to be applied (Also incidents involving RAI, RUS and LAT will be investigated after the session)

Top 10 shootout is between HAM, VER, TSU*, BOT, GAS, LEC, PER, RIC, SAI and NOR*
That’s five teams with both drivers in the top 10, so will we see them trying to gain a few seconds with a tow from their teammate?

Qualifying session 3
Pitlane lights go green but no rush to leave the garages … and then suddenly they all want to get on track
RIC 1:19.965
GAS 1:16.504
PER 1:16.342
NOR P4
VER 1:16.225
RIC P4
SAI P5
TSU P7
LEC P4
BOT 1:15.875
HAM P2
Order after first run: BOT, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, LEC, RIC, SAI, TSU, NOR
Replay of NOR getting a tow from RIC but then locks up and runs across Turn 1
Everyone heads out for a final run; Mercedes bringing up the rear
PER tows VER, same as the first run
PER runs wide – looks like TSU had gone off ahead of him
Chequered flag
VER P3
LEC P8
BOT P1
HAM P2
Front of the grid: BOT, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, RIC, LEC, TSU*, NOR*

Interviews:
BOT: “It was an awesome lap, the first run in Q3. I couldn’t quite match the same last sector in the second one but honestly that first run in Q3 was one of my best laps. Higher temperatures this afternoon than this morning came our way I think.”
HAM: “Valtteri did an amazing job, I’m so proud, he’s been driving so well these last few races. We didn’t think we had the pace this weekend so to lock out the front row is something special. I’m just as shocked as everyone – but we’ll take it.”
VER: “It seemed like throughout qualifying the balance went away a little bit. But then on the last lap it was going good and I don’t know what happened in front of me – I was expecting yellow flags so backed out of it a bit. I think this is better than starting second.”

Sir Jackie Stewart presents a special “Fangio award” to BOT; “It’s a one-off for Mexico, very special”

Toto Wolff: “It still amazes me, it can change so quickly one session to another. Here we are far behind and then in Q2 we found the potential of the car and into Q3. It’s really very enjoyable to see that kind of performance [from Bottas]. I’m so happy we have gained a little bit of momentum.”
PER: “Yeah, Yuki was just ahead and I lost a bit too much. I could only have gone a couple of tenths quicker. Tomorrow is a very long race. We are a bit disappointed, we were so strong but they turned things up at the end. Q3, a really strong lap from them.”

Provisional grid: BOT, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, RIC, LEC, TSU*, NOR*, VET, RAI, RUS*, GIO, OCO*, ALO, LAT, SCH, MAZ, STR*
*Penalties so far (Incidents involving RAI, RUS and LAT will be investigated after the session)

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]