Watch Sunday’s Grand Prix in the Mexican capital at 7pm on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event, with preparation from 5.30pm
by James Galloway
Last updated: 21/06/11 22:50
Lewis Hamilton said he was as shocked as anyone else by the Mercedes blocking from the front row ahead of Red Bull at the Mexico City GP, a result that created a different set of challenges for them at the start of Sunday’s race.
Red Bull had lapped significantly faster than anyone else in practice, but, in warmer conditions in qualifying, Mercedes was suddenly able to turn the tables and usurp their rivals at the top of the standings.
Although beaten in pole position by team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton still crucially qualified one place ahead of Red Bull title rival Max Verstappen, who follows by 12 points.
“Valtteri did an amazing job today and both, and probably the whole team, are shocked to be on the front row because they have been faster than us all weekend,” Hamilton admitted to Sky Sport F1.
“Half a second, six tenths, and no matter what we did to try to improve the car, we weren’t able to close that gap very much. So it’s a real shock. Anyway, I’m grateful.”
Hamilton said his W12 wasn’t actually ‘nice to drive’ in qualifying after some final set-up changes before the session, while Bottas found sublime form in the Q3 pole shootout and scored two laps that were faster than anyone else could handle.
“Everything went together even better than I expected,” the Finn, who has now passed qualifying in three of the last five races, told Sky F1.
“I was definitely surprised, but as a team it was also a big surprise that we were one-two because we looked a bit out of place. [the pace] in FP3.
“So a really rewarding feeling that all the changes we made were still in the right direction, keep your cool and still try to get the best out of the car. And it worked.”
Mercedes now prepares for a “completely different” race
Having planned to start the Grand Prix on Sunday behind their big rivals, Mercedes are now the ones who must protect the lead in the long friendly run up to the first corner in Mexico City.
“Things are completely different,” acknowledged Hamilton.
“Last night were all going to be simulations of what we were going to do from third and fourth. Obviously we are pushing to get as close as possible, but there was no way to get pole.
“So doing it is a great job on the part of the team and we just have to capitalize on that tomorrow.”
More to follow …