Hamilton takes stunning win after crash with Max Verstappen
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Red Bull star and World Championship leader Max Verstappen admitted he blames teammate Sergio Perez and AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda for ruining his chance at pole position at qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix. Mercedes currently lead Red Bull by 23 points in the constructors’ standings, but the Milton Keynes-based team have the advantage in the Drivers’ Championship as Dutch star Verstappen leads seven-time world champion Hamilton by just 12 points with five races to go.
Verstappen was the favourite to secure pole position in Mexico City but he will start from third after a chaotic end to qualifying.
The first set of flying laps in Q3 put Valtteri Bottas on provisional pole ahead of Hamilton while Verstappen and Perez could only get P3 and P4.
Looking for any advantage to aid his final run, Verstappen pursued Perez to gain a slipstream but the plan was derailed when Tsunoda ran wide – and the Mexican joined him.
Verstappen lost time as a result and with it his chance of topping Mercedes duo Bottas and Hamilton, who gave the Silver Arrows their first front-row lockout of the season, placing the Brit in an excellent position to fight back in the championship.
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The 24-year-old labelled either Tsunoda or Perez ‘a dumb idiot’ over team radio, but it was a frustrating afternoon in general for the Dutchman as he struggled for grip and form.
“It seemed like through qualifying the balance went away a little bit,” Verstappen said in his post-race interview.
“Then actually on the last lap I was on for a good lap. I don’t know what happened in front of me but there were two guys going off, so I thought there was going to be a yellow flag. So I back out and then of course you know the lap is destroyed.
“Even with that, and with not having great balance, I think we could have still gone for that pole lap.
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“Third is not amazing but I think it’s still better than starting second.”
The Dutchman clearly believes the long run to turn one could give Verstappen the opportunity to benefit from a quick start and slipstream – but Mercedes are producing greater straight-line speed than their title rivals.
Red Bull were making adjustments to their car before the session but Verstappen claimed the car felt ‘normal’.
“Of course it’s not ideal, but I don’t think it’s a reason why it was a bit of a struggle for us in qualifying,” he added.
“Qualifying didn’t go our way but we are not using these [soft] tyres anyway tomorrow, so still a lot to fight for.”
In a subsequent interview with Sky F1, a frustrated Verstappen insisted: “It was a terrible qualifying and we deserve to be where we are.”
Formula 1 returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix on November 7, with Red Bull star Verstappen holding a slender 12-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.
The Dutchman will start the race from third while Hamilton has a slight edge in P2.
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