Lewis Hamilton was left stunned that Mercedes was able to beat Red Bull and lockout the front row at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Red Bull entered the race weekend as the clear favorite for pole position and victory, and the signs on Friday suggested it had a clear advantage over Mercedes. Sergio Perez led a Red Bull one-two in FP3 but the team started showing signs of concern relating to its rear wing, and as qualifying progress Mercedes looked more competitive, with Valtteri Bottas taking pole position ahead of Hamilton.
“Valtteri did an amazing job,” Hamilton said. “I’m so proud of Valtteri. I think he’s been driving so well these last few races. So it’s really great for the team, they’ve been working so hard. We didn’t think we’d have the pace this weekend, so to lock out the front row is pretty special and obviously gives us a good fight with the others tomorrow.
“I really have no idea. They were like six-tenths ahead at some stage, then four-tenths ahead, but whatever happens, once you get to qualifying… all of a sudden we had better pace. I’m just as shocked as everyone, but we’ll still take it.”
With Bottas starting from pole position, Hamilton admits he would rather be the lead car despite the long run to Turn 1 that offers a tow, having expected to be on the second row.
“Naturally I’d love to be (on pole) but he did a fantastic Q3 run one. I gave it my all but he did a better job today.
“Things are just completely different (now). Last night all the simulations of what we would do from third and fourth. It was not on the table — of course we’re pushing to be as close as possible but there was no way we were going to get pole, so to have done so is great work from the team and we just have to capitalize on that tomorrow.”