Mexico Grand Prix: Qualifying Recap

Event:  Qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix (Round 18 of 20)

Date:  Saturday, Oct. 28

Location:  Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City

Layout:  4.304-kilometer (2.674-mile), 17-turn circuit

Weather:  Sunny

Air Temps:  19.7-22.2 degrees Celsius (67.5-72 degrees Fahrenheit)

Track Temps:  43-49.9 degrees Celsius (109.4-121.8 degrees Fahrenheit)

Pole Winner:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:16.488 – new track record)

Result:  Kevin Magnussen qualified 18th / Romain Grosjean qualified 19th

NOTE:  Due to grid penalties incurred by others, Magnussen will start 16th and Grosjean will start 17th.

●  Lasts 18 minutes, with all 20 drivers participating

●  Fastest 15 drivers advance to Q2

Magnussen:  18th quick (1:19.443)

Grosjean:  19th quick (1:19.473)

Fastest Driver:  Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:17.518)

Cutoff:  15th-quick Lance Stroll of Williams (1:18.902)

●  Lasts 15 minutes, featuring the 15 fastest drivers from Q1

●  Fastest 10 drivers advance to Q3

Fastest Driver:  Max Verstappen of Red Bull (1:16.524)

Cutoff:  10th-quick Sergio Perez of Force India (1:17.868)

●  Lasts 12 minutes, featuring the 10 fastest drivers from Q2, all battling for the pole

Pole Winner:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:16.488)

Second:  Max Verstappen of Red Bull (1:16.574)

Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 18th and 19th, respectively, for the Mexican Grand Prix Sunday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. However, with grid penalties incurred by others, Magnussen will start 16th and Grosjean will start 17th.

The struggles of Friday seeped into Saturday, with neither driver able to advance from Q1. As they chased grip throughout the 4.304-kilometer (2.674-mile), 17-turn circuit, they were unable to crack the top-15 cutoff to get into Q2.

Magnussen set the 18th-fastest time with a lap of 1:19.443. Grosjean was just behind his teammate in 19th with a lap of 1:19.473. Both drivers used the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire.

Taking the pole for the Mexican Grand Prix was Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. His fast lap of 1:16.488 was .086 of a second better than runner-up Max Verstappen of Red Bull and it set a new track record at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. It was Vettel’s milestone 50th career Formula One pole, his fourth of the season and first in the Mexican Grand Prix.

Before Magnussen, Grosjean and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. To emulate qualifying, both drivers ran exclusively on ultrasofts.

Magnussen ran 19 laps and set the 14th-fastest time with a 1:19.205 on his 16th lap. Grosjean tallied 22 laps and earned his best time on his 18th lap – a 1:19.586 that put him 17th overall.

Quickest in FP3 was Verstappen, whose fast lap of 1:17.113 was .075 of a second better than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

“We have had a tough weekend. We didn’t run anything yesterday, so of course there’s always performance there. I had a very poor out lap at the end with a lot of traffic, so there were a few tenths in hand, but nothing that would put us where we should be. There’s no excuse. We’ve got a 2017 Ferrari engine, which is more powerful than the Sauber one. We’ll need to work, and we’ll need to find a way to make the car faster at the circuits where we need extra downforce. It’s going to be 71 laps with a handful of a car to drive tomorrow. Anything is possible. I don’t want to be super positive saying everything’s going to be great, but you never know in the race. It’s a tough circuit and cooling is a problem for everyone. Brakes are going to struggle. In Singapore, we were not supposed to score points and we did. There’s always hope, but definitely it’s going to be a tough one.” 

“We had feared this weekend would be tough. We obviously weren’t very quick in qualifying. This track is like our Achilles’ heel. It was kind of expected, but it’s still disappointing. We just have to push on. The issues are a combination of things. I’d say with the air being so thin here, everyone has to cool their cars a lot more, open up their cooling on the brakes, engine, water, everything. When we do that, we don’t have a very good top cooling when it’s open. We lose out there, and it seems very bad this time. Hopefully we can stay in the fight tomorrow, and at least push and see what we can get. I hope our race pace is a bit better than our qualifying pace.”

“We’ve ended up where we were afraid to end up a few days ago. We knew we would struggle with the high altitude here with our aero setup. So, we were almost prepared for it, but it’s never easy to swallow. We just need to get better.”