Verstappen completes practice hat-trick in Mexico

Posted October 29, 2018

Daniel Ricciardo upstaged his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen with a dazzling record lap to snatch pole position in the final seconds of Saturday's thrilling shootout for the Mexican Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton taking third.

Realistically, though, the party should start for Hamilton on Sunday as he becomes only the third man in the history, after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, to achieve five world titles.

Hamilton won titles with McLaren in 2008 and with Mercedes in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

In a strangely subdued race, most drivers suffered in the heat and attempted to conserve tyres, with Hamilton flying off the line but then struggling to maintain speed and eventually coasted over the line to get the points he needed to claim his crown.

It's a very odd feeling right now.

"We were struggling both Valtteri (Bottas) and I and we had to just hang on and bring the vehicle home".

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Sebastian Vettel headed into the race knowing only a win and a finish of eighth or worse for Hamilton would be enough to take the title chase into the penultimate round of the season.

"Into turn one everyone got boxed in and that was nice for me", he said. I honestly feel like I've performed my best this year.

Vettel, meanwhile, could only pay tribute to his rival.

"It is not easy today but well deserved for him and I want to congratulate Lewis".

Vettel added: "We need to stand there, accept it and say congratulations".

Mexico's long front straight can offer ideal slipstream battles at the start as the teams jostle for position. "Ultimately that was the goal, I won the championship a year ago and thought how the hell am I going to improve?" Vettel said: "I think we got more or less everything out of the auto, but dropping to fourth from second is not satisfying".

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Hamilton started a trend, with Ricciardo and Verstappen following suit on laps 12 and 13. We wanted two of us on the podium.

Stoffel Vandoorne produced an unexpected boost at the end of a hard season by rising to eighth in his McLaren, ending a run of 14 races without points that stretches back to Azerbaijan in April.

Hamilton also lined up third in Mexico a year ago with a fourth title his for the taking.

Hulkenberg executed a one-stop strategy well to keep comfortably clear of Sauber's Charles Leclerc in seventh.

Hamilton had won his home grand prix in the previous four seasons and was on pole at Silverstone before an opening-lap collision with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen left him down in 18th.

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