Lewis Hamilton bemoans ‘nightmare’ Mercedes car as Charles Leclerc takes surprise Mexico pole
'The race is definitely going to be a challenge.'
Ferrari locked out the front row at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz just ahead of three-time champion Max Verstappen, while Daniel Ricciardo will shockingly start fourth ahead of home favourite Sergio Perez.
Hamilton will start Sunday’s race from sixth, qualifying just under three-tenths slower than the pole-sitter, with Mercedes teammate George Russell in eighth, with the seven-time champion avoiding a penalty for a yellow flag infringement.
The Mexican Grand Prix is always a tricky one for drivers and cars alike but after coming close to winning the last race in the USA, Hamilton would perhaps have been hoping for better.
‘I’ve been struggling all weekend with the car and it has been a bit of a nightmare to drive,’ the 38-year-old said.
‘We’ve had to try and put the performance together piece by piece, and we made good changes going into qualifying so that I was much happier with the car.
‘Q1 and Q2 weren’t looking too bad, especially the second run in Q2. But the car is just really peaky – sometimes it’s in the window, sometimes not. And I couldn’t squeeze anything more out of it on that final lap.
‘The race is definitely going to be a challenge – we will be overheating the tyres and the brakes, so it won’t be easy to battle the cars around us. I don’t really know what kind of race to expect but it’s going to be on a knife edge.’
As for Leclerc, this is the third pole of the year for the Monegasque, but he more than anyone knows that it is no guarantee of success come race day, as he has converted just four of his previous 21 poles into wins.
‘First place here I’m not sure is the best starting place, but anyway that’s fine, I’ll take that pole position,’ the 26-year-old said.
‘Absolutely did not [see this performance coming]. It’s been two weekends in a row where we say that so then people will start not believing us anymore. To be honest, I did not expect to be on pole position today.
‘We thought we were lacking quite a bit in FP3, but for some reason once we put everything together it went well. [With] the new tyres, we gained a lot. Already focusing on tomorrow’s race because [we’ve had] many pole positions but now we need to convert it into a win tomorrow
‘We’ll just [focus] on ourselves. We’ve had pretty good pace all weekend. I’m not sure if we’ve got enough to be challenging for the win, but we will try everything in our hands to try and get it… I’m really happy with today and, like I said, lets finalise it tomorrow.’
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