Sebastian Vettel admits his 50th pole position is “a great achievement” and a special one given the pace shown by Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Verstappen was comfortably quickest in Q2 and enjoyed an advantage of over a quarter of a second after the first runs in Q3, but Vettel denied the 20-year-old his first pole position by 0.086s with a stunning final lap at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Asked how it feels to secure his 50th pole, Vettel replied: “Well, it sounds like a lot – guess it is a lot.
“I don’t know really what to say, it is a big number and I am very very happy with today. Before qualifying, it didn’t look that way. I was surprised myself with just now. Every session we tried to get the best. Qualifying has been tough for us, but really rewarding when it works – just like today.
“Really, really happy with the lap I had today. I think at the moment, right now, it probably means more than the raw number but for sure, overall, it’s a great achievement.”
Vettel admitted he had been a little surprised by Verstappen’s speed.
“Yeah, he was very quick in Q2, I don’t know where he pulled that one from. We had to stretch, all of us. It is very difficult around here because there’s not much running – the altitude has a different effect on the asphalt in terms of aging. It’s very slippy for all of us, easy to make a mistake and very difficult to find that limit and where to understand where exactly it is, [where] you can push, where you can’t and where you have to be careful and there he goes four-tenths quicker than everyone else… it’s a bit, ‘How do I do that?’
“But I knew if I got the first sector together then I would have a better chance and it worked just in the end, so I was really happy with my first sector and I was able to build onto that. I had a moment at Turn 6, nearly lost the car, but managed to go through without any time loss and from there I felt really comfortable to push until the end.
“Obviously when I saw how much I was up crossing the line I knew that it would be close – it should be enough but I didn’t know what the others were doing as I guess the track improved a bit, but when I heard it was announced… yeah, it’s like an explosion inside the car. I had one yesterday with the fire extinguisher but today it was a real happy one!”