F1 Mexico Grand Prix 2018: Can Daniel Ricciardo drive from pole to podium?
DANIEL Ricciardo’s smile beamed its brightest in months after he was told he’d beaten teammate Max Verstappen to pole position in Mexico. His teammate was less enthused about the "crap’ state of his car.
It was a long time coming for the Australian who has has suffered seven retirements in 18 races this year and his long and triumphant whoop over the team radio, and some typically colourful language afterwards, said it all.
“I’m tripping major nut-sack right now… Shout out to the team to get a one-two,” Ricciardo said.
“I’m holding a lot in. I let a bit out once I heard I got pole.
“I held a lot in, I’ve got to save some energy for tomorrow.
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“Just super happy. It’s been a while since pole.”
Verstappen was rather less excited.
Fuming after missing his chance to be the youngest driver to earn pole position in F1 history. He lost it by 0.026 seconds.
He said his car didn’t feel right despite fast times in Saturday morning practice and the early stages of qualifying.
Max Verstappen looked downcast after qualifying
“The whole qualifying was crap,” the deflated Dutchman said. “We had the same problems from practice.
“We tried to make the best of it and I thought it was going to be enough for pole with the problems we had.”
The Red Bulls came in expecting to be strong in the high altitude at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Verstappen is the defending race champion and dominated the three rounds of practice.
He scorched the field again in qualifying until Ricciardo snatched his third career pole position and first since his win in Monaco in May. Verstappen was still on the track but his final lap was too slow.
Ricciardo’s effort set up what could be the Australian’s last best chance to win for Red Bull. He’s leaving the team for Renault in 2019.
Verstappen and Ricciardo will have to decide how much to fight each other for the win. The two had a costly collision in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that knocked both cars out of the race. Both drivers were reprimanded for dangerous racing moves and team tensions were high.
“Our priority now has to be to try and convert these fantastic grid positions into a haul of points tomorrow,” Horner said. “The team has worked very hard for this so it is crucial that we now make the most of it.”
HAMILTON CLOSING IN ON TITLE
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, looked completely comfortable knowing he’s in a perfect spot to win his fifth career Formula One championship.
Hamilton will start third, knowing he can let the Red Bull cars go off and running while he coasts his Mercedes to the finish line. A seventh-place finish will secure the British driver’s fifth career title, matching the late Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina for second most in F1 history. Only Germany’s Michael Schumacher has more with seven.
Hamilton missed his chance to win the title last week at the U.S. Grand Prix when he finished third.
“To be as close as I am, I’m really quite happy,” Hamilton said. “I’m just praying for a smooth and safe race.”
Hamilton said he’d like to go for a win to punctuate a season championship, but he doesn’t give himself much of a chance to do that Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Daniel Ricciardo after he claimed pole
“Those guys (Red Bull) are in a league of their own,” Hamilton said. He’ll want to be cautious from the start as the cars barrel through the opening long run into the first turn.
It would normally be a chance for Mercedes and Ferrari to flex their straight-line power, but it also can lead to a wild start of collisions and cars bailing out in the runoff areas to avoid them. Hamilton started third last year and a first turn bump from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel punctured a tire. Hamilton limped to a ninth-place finish but still clinched the season championship.
Vettel starts right behind him again Sunday and must win if he has any hope of extending the championship to the next race in Brazil.
“You saw what happened last year with the red car behind me,” Hamilton said. “Everyone is going to be barreling into turn one. If there’s an opening and an opportunity to take it, I’ll take it. If not, I’ll hold position.”
HOW THEY START
1st row Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
2nd row: Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
3rd row: Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
4th row: Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault) Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault)
5th row: Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber) Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber)
6th row: Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India) Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren)
7th row: Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso)
8th row: Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren) Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas)
9th row: Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams) Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas)
10th row: Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams) Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso)
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