Ferrari surprised with a 1-2 finish in F1 Mexico GP as Charles Leclerc took pole from Carlos Sainz, with Max Verstappen in third.
It was a hectic first part of F1 Mexico GP qualifying as traffic and strategy played a key role in the order to be decided. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led the way with a 1m18.099s lap to lead McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo in the Top 10.
McLaren opted for a single run on the soft tyre after starting out on the medium along with Mercedes and Ferrari pair. But the gamble for McLaren didn’t work as Lando Norris was knocked out after he made a mistake on his soft tyre which left him only 19th.
He set a 1m21.554s lap as Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1m19.080s) was also knocked out in 16th from Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m19.163s) and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (1m19.227s), as Williams’ Logan Sargeant had all of fast laps deleted due to track limits.
There was a late spin for Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso which brought out the yellow flag and resulted in multiple drivers being put under investigation for failing to slow under the yellow flag which had Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Sargeant.
Mercedes’ George Russell, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Norris were put under investigation for failing to follow the maximum delta time. Russell is also under investigation for impeding at pit exit along with Alonso and Verstappen.
It was still hectic in second part of F1 Mexico GP qualifying as a late lap from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton put him on top with a 1m17.571s to displace Verstappen with the other Mercedes of Russell slotting in third in the Top 3 places.
AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda did not set a time but helped teammate Daniel Ricciardo with a tow. A late push from Williams’ Alexander Albon helped him into the Top 10 but post-session, his lap was deleted due to cutting the corner by riding over the kerb at Turn 2.
It helped Guanyu to be inside the Top 10 to make it a double with Valtteri Bottas already in. Williams were also put under investigation for putting an equipment in the pitlane which was knocked over by Tsunoda while he exited his garage for qualifying.
Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was first to be knocked out in 11th after his 1m18.521s lap with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg (1m18.524s) in 12th from Alonso (1m18.738s) and Albon (1m19.147s) to make it 14 drivers with a classified time.
The third part in F1 Mexico GP started with a bang as Ferrari were 1-2 in the provisional pole situation with Charles Leclerc (1m17.166s) ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz (1m17.233s) to drop Verstappen to third after replays showed the Dutchman going aggressive at Turn 8.
AlphaTauri’s Ricciardo was fourth from Mercedes’ Russell in the Top 5 before their final run. The Top 2 didn’t improve but still held onto a 1-2 finish with a gap of 0.067s as Leclerc took F1 Mexico GP pole, with Verstappen (1m17.263s) in third where he was 0.097s off Leclerc.
Ricciardo (1m17.382s) was fourth from Perez (1m17.423s) in the Top 5 as Hamilton (1m17.454s) couldn’t get well on his final attempt to be sixth from Piastri (1m17.623s), Russell (1m17.674s), Bottas (1m18.032s) and Guanyu (1m18.050s) in the Top 10.
UPDATE: The FIA cleared Russell, Norris and Guanyu who were investigated for going beyond the maximum time between the two safety car lines. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Mexico%20City%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Qualifying%20SC2-SC1%20Times.pdf
The FIA also cleared Russell, Verstappen and Alonso of the pitlane impeding case where the Dutchman drove slowly while the other two stopped at the pit exit. The stewards state the drivers create gaps while exiting the pitlane to maintain the safety car line time, which they feel is a better way to manage the time rather than driving slowly on the track.
Details (same explanation for all three): https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Mexico%20City%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Decision%20-%20Car%2063%20-%20Alleged%20impeding%20at%20Pit%20Exit.pdf
The FIA cleared Hamilton of failing slow down for the yellow flag as the light box showcased green followed by yellow light. The Brit was slower in the mini sector than his previous lap as well. Here: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2023%20Mexico%20City%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Decision%20-%20Car%2044%20-%20Alleged%20failure%20to%20slow%20under%20yellow%20flags.pdf
Sargeant, meanwhile, was handed a 10 place grid drop for overtaking Tsunoda under yellow flag. His light board also showed green in patches but the FIA reckons overtaking under yellow is still enough to penalise the American who did not set a time after his laps were deleted but is allowed to start.
Also, Williams were handed a fine of €20,000 for having a jack placed in the pitlane which was run over by Tsunoda. Of this, €10,000 is suspended for a period of 12 months provided a similar offence is not repeated by the F1 team.