Mexican Grand Prix qualifying results, times, blog, Daniel Ricciardo, full grid, practice

Daniel Ricciardo had his best qualifying result in five races but narrowly missed out on a third qualifying session for the Mexican Grand Prix’s top ten drivers.

It comes after the Aussie opened up on ‘the toughest year’ ahead of qualifying.

In an incredibly close and dramatic session, Ricciardo crashed out of Q1 for the first time in five races, to be dropped as the 11th fastest driver in Q2 in just 0.053 seconds.

At the top of the Q2 standings, the top four were separated by just 14 thousandths of a second – one of the tightest qualifying sessions in F1 history.

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But Max Verstappen, already confirmed world champion this season, climbed to pole ahead of the Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

His 1m 17.775s left Russell second by 0.304s – having had his last race erased for going over the track limits – and Hamilton a marginal of 0.005s in P3.

Verstappen took control in his first moto in Q3, then cut his time to resist the threat from the much improved Mercedes team. He will be looking for a record 14th win in a single season on Sunday.

“It was a good qualification,” said the Dutchman. “It was tight, but we made some adjustments to the car and found a better pace, so to be on pole here is, of course, amazing.

“It’s a very long run to the first corner here, so we need a good start, but I think we have a fast car and that’s what’s most important. The passion of the fans here is really amazing and in the stadium it’s just amazing to drive there.

Sergio Perez finished fourth to the other Red Bull for their home Grand Prix.

Ricciardo completed the third and final practice session in P14, the same result as the second training session as the Australian’s struggles at McLaren continued. But he found the rhythm in qualifying, and will be disappointed not to have reached Q3 among the top 10 drivers.

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It has been a difficult year for Ricciardo, who admitted in an interview with The daily mail ahead of this week’s race that he wasn’t his normal ‘bubbly self’ as the results slipped.

“My confidence was eaten away by driving a car that wouldn’t dance with me and bite me,” Ricciardo said.

“Each time we thought we had found a solution, another set of challenges arose. When you invest so much in something and it doesn’t work out, there is sadness. It hits you.

“Last year it affected me a bit too much. I wouldn’t be my usual bubbly self.

I would hesitate if someone said we were going out to dinner. I need cajoling. I let it get to me.

“I started talking to a psychologist last year, the hardest year I’ve had.”

Ricciardo will make a fresh start next year, with the Australian set to take up a reserve driver role with either Mercedes or Red Bull.

It comes after McLaren’s decision to knock out Ricciardo earlier this year, which the 33-year-old admits came as a surprise.

“It’s fair to say it was unexpected, given that I was on a three-year contract that had a year to run,” he said.

“It’s not something you can prepare for. But I had already had honest discussions with Andreas (Seidel, team principal) and Zak (Brown, general manager) earlier in the year to see what we could do to make things better.

“It was a concern on both sides.”

Qualifying disappointment for Ricciardo | 01:24

Elsewhere, having set the pace with a 1m19.970s lead, Mercedes’ George Russell will hope he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton can continue their qualifying success.

“I’d like to think it’s definitely [a] podium [that’s] possible, at least. It’s probably one of, if not our best Friday of the year,” Russell told the official Formula 1 website when asked about his expectations for the weekend.

“Between us [Russell and team mate Lewis Hamilton]we have 14 podiums [so far this season], so that’s absolutely what we’re going to do. But not having the normal FP2, where you understand the long term, the back-to-back rounds of your rivals, it’s going to be hard to know.”

Hamilton finished the day in fourth place and having settled for second at the United States Grand Prix, he also wants to potentially aim for top spot this weekend.

“I feel good… I feel really, really good,” he said.

“I generally had a very good session today. I really enjoyed driving the track. The car feels better and better as we work on it, and we understand it better.”

George Russell is quite confident. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The second practice session was red flagged twice after Charles Leclerc got into trouble, with a serious crash that left his car damaged at the rear.

Leclerc didn’t seem too worried about the damage affecting his chances ahead of Monday morning’s qualifying and race, however.

“I don’t think it will compromise us,” he said.

“I think we have enough [parts] now, with all the penalties we’ve had in the past, it should be fine.

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