Ricciardo snatches pole for the Mexican Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo has denied Max Verstappen the chance to become the youngest man in Formula One history to claim pole position after beating his Red Bull teammate with a sensational flying lap in Mexico.
The rampant Red Bulls locked out the front row in a thrilling qualifying session on Saturday, while Briton Lewis Hamilton, who needs to finish only seventh on Sunday to claim the world championship, qualified third.
Rock star: Daniel Ricciardo rejoices after securing a rare pole position for himself and Red Bull.Credit:PA
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who must win here to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton from claiming this year's honours, finished in fourth.
Verstappen, 21, had dominated all weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but he was beaten in the dying moments by Ricciardo, the Australian claiming his first pole at a track other than Monaco and only the third of his career.
Verstappen was clearly frustrated by the result, bumping the second-place board as he arrived on the start-finish straight.
But Ricciardo, who edged out the Dutchman by just 0.026 seconds, was ecstatic.
"I knew it was in there somewhere," he said moments after roaring over the radio in delight.
"I knew putting the lap together would be crucial as always and Max showed the pace was in the car all weekend."
Verstappen was rather less excited.
"The whole qualifying was crap," the deflated Dutchman said. "We had the same problems from practice yesterday.
"We tried to make the best of it and I thought it was going to be enough for pole with the problems we had."
Hamilton, who would draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio on five world crowns with a victory, is in striking range of the Red Bulls but, crucially, ahead of his sole rival.
"I am really happy with it," Hamilton said after his Mercedes team had been well off the pace in practice on Friday.
Lewis Hamilton (left) is on the cusp of another world title.Credit:PA
"We had a difficult day yesterday and today was a big improvement. Being behind the Red Bulls is not a bad thing."
The 800-yard dash to the opening bend is the longest on the calendar and last year Vettel collided with Hamilton at the third bend.
"We saw what happened last year with the red car behind, so I don't know what will happen at the start tomorrow," he added.
"It depends how we get away, but I am going to be fighting to gain a position. I am wary of the Red Bulls ahead."
Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Fernando Alonso had been eliminated from first qualifying at the previous three races, but the soon-to-be-departing double world champion provided some respite for McLaren by qualifying 12th.
"Good job," the Spaniard was told.
His teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, also leaving at the end of the year to be replaced by British teenager Lando Norris, finished 17th.
Home favourite Sergio Perez, whose laps through the unique stadium section were greeted with rockstar-like cheers, could manage only 13th, two places off Esteban Ocon in the sister Force India.
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