Mexican GP 2023

OCTOBER 28, 2023

Qualifying Report - Leclerc leads Ferrari 1-2

Charles Leclerc, Mexican GP 2023
© Ferrari

By Peter Habicht

Ferrari has claimed the front row in Mexico City after a late display of pace put them ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen. An impressive effort from AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo to take fourth got the best of Sergio Perez who will start behind the Australian for Red Bull ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's Oscar Piastri.

Mercedes' George Russell did good enough to qualify eighth but as of this writing, has been summoned to the stewards for impeding cars with Max Verstappen and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso while exiting pitlane late in Q1.

Both Alfa Romeos qualified on the fifth row in their best start to this season, with Valtteri Bottas besting Guanyu Zhou's time by less than 0.02s.

Alpine's Pierre Gasly took 11th on the grid ahead of Haas' Nico Hulkenberg and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, who struggled on the slippery circuit, spinning with under a minute left in Q1, and bringing out a local yellow that appeared to go unheeded by the Williams of Logan Sargeant and Lewis Hamilton, both of whom have also been summoned to the stewards office after qualifying today.

Williams' Alex Albon qualified next in 14th, unhappy with his car's braking and oversteer after a solid practice earlier in the day. Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda is in 15th, and has been summoned along with a member of the Williams team to the stewards after Tsunoda hit a rear jack left unattended in the Williams pit area while exiting the AlphaTauri garage.

Esteban Ocon will start from 16th, ahead of haas Kevin Magnussen and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

An early exit from McLaren's Lando Norris in Q1 means he will start from 19th after joining the round late on medium tires and not getting a good time in on them. Norris tried a lap on a set of soft tires but was unable to improve on his time before traffic hurt his chances of a late save.

After the session, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur shared what he felt worked for Charles and Carlos: "We were quite brave in the beginning to go in Q1 with medium and save four sets (of softs) for Q2 and Q3 and this allowed them perhaps to fine tune their driving and find the right spot and to do a perfect lap."

As far as tomorrow's strategy, he explained how the circuit's high altitude will be a factor: "We are much more focused on the cooling, for the brakes, for the engine. Now we have something that is working pretty well, and for everybody it is better to be in front and to have clean air than to be into the pack when you know you will have to do 50 laps to be in dirty air. This is important for the race because if you have to start to do lift and coast by lap two it's difficult."