Max Verstappen says he is confident Red Bull has the top speed to defend from pole position in the Mexico City Grand Prix despite a long run to Turn 1.
The longest run to the first corner of the year, the past four races in Mexico have seen the pole-sitter fail to take victory, with Verstappen winning on three of those occasions. While Mercedes looks particularly competitive this weekend, Verstappen beat George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to pole and believes he has the performance to keep both at bay at the start.
“I’ve started…everywhere except pole here and we won the race, so it’s always important to have a good start around here,” Verstappen said. “I think our top speed is not too bad to defend…when people are in the draft, so we just need to focus on that and honestly I think if we have good race pace it will be a good fight anyway. But of course we’ll try to stay ahead into Turn 1.
“(The race pace is) a bit unknown because we have been driving on these development tires, so (it’s) a bit difficult to tell, but I think with the car we have today I’m expecting it to be alright tomorrow.”
For once, Mercedes appeared favorite for pole position heading into Q3 after Hamilton topped the first two parts of qualifying, but Verstappen moved 0.3s clear in the final part of the session and feels says that’s when everything came together.
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“It was a bit of a tricky start to qualifying because the track was a bit warmer compared to FP3 so everybody was sliding around a bit more and it was a bit more difficult to find your rhythm,” he continued. “So it was really from Q1 to Q2 to Q3 trying to find a balance in the car again, and every session I think it got a little bit better.
“I think in Q3 we finally could push a little bit more with the car. Two decent laps I think, so very happy with that because around here for me at least it’s very hard to nail the lap. It’s very low grip, there are a few curbs you have to perfectly hit to gain time, so it’s not the easiest qualifying. It’s the same with the tire warm-up around here too, but it seemed like in Q3 we had it under control.”