Charles Leclerc will head a Ferrari front-row for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix after claiming a 22nd pole-position in his Formula 1 career.

Max Verstappen qualified third, alongside the AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo followed by Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton however Verstappen, Hamilton and George Russell are all amongst a series of drivers currently under investigation by the Stewards.

Read More: F1 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix – Qualifying Results

Track evolution has been a hot topic so far this weekend and with track temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius, any mistake or disruption due to traffic would prove costly.

In Q1, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari all gambled by sending their cars out on circuit on the Medium compound early on.

Red Bull meanwhile played it safe with the Softs, enabling Verstappen to pick up the day where he left off. A 1:18.099s lap-time returned the reigning champion to the top of the pecking order.

Verstappen was followed by the AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo who dragged his AT04 within three-tenths of the Dutchman’s pace.

Ricciardo’s pace seemed indicative of the track evolution present, prompting all cars, with the exception of the Australian to run again despite any strategic gambles.

In the final minutes of the first stage of the session, two separate queues formed behind Verstappen and George Russell. Both will be investigated after the session for impeding.

The result was a train forming in the stadium section featuring the majority of the field as the seconds ticked down.

There was trouble for Fernando Alonso who span in Turn 3 bringing out a yellow flag ahead of those in the train.

Alonso advanced in P10, but it was disaster for Lando Norris who was caught in the traffic and ultimately abandoned his lap. Norris, who looked a serious contender for pole, was eliminated 20th and last.

Also eliminated from the session were Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Logan Sargeant. Lewis Hamilton will be investigated after the session for a potential failure to slow for the yellow flags triggered by Alonso’s spin.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60.
28.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Qualifying Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

With 15 minutes back on the clock for Q2, Red Bull wasted no time in sending its drivers back out on track, perhaps taking note from the chaos that ensued at the end of Q1.

Verstappen clocked a 1:17.625 right off the bat before returning to the pit-lane. Oscar Piastri slotted into second, a quarter of a second behind and closely followed by Ricciardo.

There was another mess at the end of the pitlane nearing the end of Q2 as again, drivers queued front wing to gearbox and side by side as some trundled back onto the racetrack, and others formed another traffic jam at the pit exit.

Verstappen, confident in his benchmark, was the only driver to not return to the track as Yuki Tsunoda, who will start tomorrow’s race from the rear as a result of a power unit change, towed Ricciardo for a final tour.

For the first time this weekend, Verstappen failed to finish a session on top as Hamilton found an extra half-a-tenth.

After being mightily impressive all weekend, Alex Albon initially scraped his way into Q3 but his lap-time was deleted for track limits after the chequered flag.

Accounting for Albon’s misfortune, Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso were eliminated. Albon drops to 14th and Tsunoda was the last driver in the drop zone but will start the race from the rear.

Alex Albon (THA), Williams F1 Team
28.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Qualifying Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

With Verstappen, Russell and Hamilton all under investigation for various incidents, the door was wide open in the squabble for pole.

Verstappen’s first effort was slightly compromised when he took too much kerb at Turn 8, with the time loss enough to afford a provisional front-row lockout to Ferrari, headed by Leclerc on a 1:17.166s. Verstappen held third, 0.120s slower than his rivals again closely shadowed by Ricciardo.

On their final attempts, neither Ferrari was able to find time in the first two sectors, leaving it all to play for. Ricciardo also failed to improve, as all eyes turned to Red Bull.

Verstappen, however, had fund gains in the first two sectors but the three-time champion lost the advantage in the final corner dashing his hopes of pole.

Perez and Hamilton were both able to improve, but not enough to challenge for pole setting meaning Ferrari held onto the front-row as Leclerc claimed a 22nd career pole.

Verstappen and Ricciardo will share row two, followed by Perez who will start his home race from fifth.

Hamilton occupies sixth followed by Piastri, Russell and the Alfa Romeo duo headed by 2021 polesitter Valtteri Bottas.

The caveat remains that Verstappen, Russell and Hamilton – and others – are all currently under investigation for incidents picked up during the session.

The Mexico City Grand Prix gets underway at 14:00 local time on Sunday.

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