Saturday, November 6th, 2021
Surprise pole for Mercedes
Bottas gives Red Bull a huge bankruptcy
Red Bull had imagined it very differently: Max Verstappen is considered the favorite to win in Mexico. But in qualifying, Mercedes is significantly faster than the Dutchman. Valtteri Bottas secures pole position, with Lewis Hamilton starting behind him. A crash disturbs the session early on.
Valtteri Bottas managed a surprise with his victory in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix in Formula 1: The Mercedes driver will start the race from pole position at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. With 1: 15.875 minutes he drove the fastest lap and was the only one to stay under 1:16 minutes. It is the 19th career pole for the Finn. Right behind him will be his team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton praised the “great job” of his team-mate, who left Mercedes for Alfa Romeo at the end of the season.
The two from the team of the series world champion Mercedes surprisingly outpaced Max Verstappen and Red Bull. This is remarkable in that the Dutchman and his team were previously traded as favorites for the Mexico win. In the qualification, Bottas and Hamilton belied the prognoses. “This sport never ceases to fascinate me. Things can change from one session to the next because you suddenly unleash the potential of the car,” enthused Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff at Sky.
Verstappen was even 0.35 seconds short of the Finnish winner. However, there were also problems with his car. Part of it had come loose on its rear wing. “We had to fix them. Of course that’s not ideal, but I don’t think that was a reason why we had such problems in qualifying,” said Verstappen. He also had a few slides on his fastest lap in Q3. “The rear of the car slips a lot,” he complained on the pit radio. He also made a mistake on the last timed lap.
But the culprit was a completely different one, stated the racing team. Namely Alpha Tauri pilot Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese disturbed the two pilots on their fast lap. “Such a stupid idiot”, Verstappen had even radioed. Before the fifth to last race of the season on Sunday (8 p.m. / Sky and in the ntv.de live ticker) the world championship leader has a twelve point lead over defending champion Hamilton in the overall standings. Verstappen then quickly came to terms with his position: “It’s not great, but it’s still better to start than second,” said Verstappen, referring to the race line.
Stroll crashes into the gang
For Sebastian Vettel it was over after Q2, the German in the Aston Martin came in eleventh. On Sunday he will still line up two places up front – due to penalties after exchanging parts for Lando Norris in the McLaren and Tsunoda, who placed ahead of him in qualifying.
Qualifying had to be interrupted early in Q1. Lance Stroll had apparently lost control of his car because of a dirt road and crashed violently into the guardrail. The 23-year-old was apparently uninjured and was brought to the doctor in the medical car to be on the safe side. “I’m okay,” he said on the pit radio. His car had suffered much more severe damage, the suspension of the front tires was destroyed. The session was interrupted, the Aston Martin bolide had to be removed, the track cleaned and the guardrail repaired. With a delay of more than ten minutes, it finally went on.
After Q1 it was over again for Mick Schumacher and his Haas team-mate Nikita Mazepin. The German could not set a decisive accent, just finished 18th like in the third free practice – after all, again ahead of Mazepin, who was 0.44 seconds slower. Nicholas Latifi also had to drop out early in the Williams as 17th, as well as Stroll because of his crash. The Canadian would have started from behind on Sunday anyway because of an engine penalty, so nothing will change his starting position. “It’s a lot of work for the mechanics. I would have liked to drive through Q1 to see how the car drives,” said Stroll at Sky.
Fernando Alonso also got out of business in Q1. Bitter, because the Alpine team apparently had a lot of problems with the agreements. Esteban Ocon, of all people, threw his team-mate out of qualifying. The Spaniard missed a chance to start from a little further ahead. Unfortunate, because Ocon has to drive from behind anyway due to his engine penalty – Alpine has taken itself out of the game. But it’s getting tight at the back anyway. In addition to Ocon, Tsunoda and Norris, George Russell also has to line up at the back of the Williams.