Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016

Hamilton on pole, Rosberg second in Mexico

2016 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton took his tenth pole position of the season in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, with championship leader Nico Rosberg lining up on the front row behind him.

The two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo locked out the second row of the grid, while Nico Hulkenberg will line up his Force India fifth ahead of the two Ferraris.

Hamilton took pole with his first effort in Q3 having only just failed to improve his time on his final run.


Jolyon Palmer’s qualifying was over before it had even begun after the Renault driver was found to have a cracked chassis after running over a kerb in final practice.

This left only five drivers to be eliminated from the first session of qualifying and opening an opportunity for one of the traditional backmarkers to survive to Q2.

With rising track temperatures, all drivers ventured out on super soft tyres to ensure they would not be caught out. But with drivers still struggling to get heat in their tyres, many opted to push on their third lap out from the pits.

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of a 1’19.447, slower than Verstappen’s final practice benchmark by three tenths.

As time ticked down, it was the Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez who found themselves needing a marked improvement to make it out of the first session.

But Grosjean’s attempt to improve on the slowest time was ruined when his team mate spun directly in front of him in the fast sweepers of the middle sector, scuppering both Haas cars’ chances of improving.

This proved an open goal for Pascal Wherlein and Marcus Ericsson, who both took advantage of the Haas’s misfortune to make it through by improving on their final laps, as did Kevin Magnussen in the Renault.

This left both Haas cars eliminated, along with Daniil Kvyat, who was stranded in the pitlane, Felipe Nasr’s Sauber and Esteban Ocon in the second Manor.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

PositionDriverTeamLap time
17Esteban GutierrezHaas1’21.401
18Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’21.454
19Felipe NasrSauber1’21.692
20Esteban OconManor1’21.881
21Romain GrosjeanHaas1’21.916
22Jolyon PalmerRenaultNo time


Having used up a set of super soft tyres in Q1, the two Mercedes opted to try and make it into the final shootout on the soft compound, as did Sebastian Vettel.

Max Verstappen chose to remain on the super soft tyres and used them to good effect to set a 1’18.972 – the quickest lap of the weekend so far.

With Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari all opting not to run again in the closing stages, Williams were relying on a last lap improvement to survive through to Q3.

Both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were able to get themselves out of the danger zone on their final laps, which pushed their Force India rivals into it as a result.

Nico Hulkenberg managed to escape with a brilliant effort to go sixth quickest, but local hero Sergio Perez was unable to improve and was out in 12th.

Jenson Button also failed to make it through, while team mate Fernando Alonso was beaten to the final Q3 slot by Carlos Sainz Jnr in the Toro Rosso.

Also eliminate was Kevin Magnussen, who qualified 14th, with Ericsson’s Sauber and Wehrlein’s Manor behind him.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

PositionDriverTeamLap time
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’20.282
12Sergio PérezForce India1’20.287
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’20.673
14Kevin MagnussenRenault1’21.131
15Marcus EricssonSauber1’21.536
16Pascal WehrleinManor1’21.785


The final shootout for looked set to be another battle between the Mercedes team mates with Red Bull snapping at their heels, ready to take advantage should the Silver Arrows falter.

Lewis Hamilton take provisional pole after the first flying laps with a 1’18.704, but championship rival Nico Rosberg could only manage fourth fastest behind the two Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo.

The Red Bulls were the first out for the final laps of the session, but while both Verstappen and Ricciardo improved their times, neither improved position.

Lewis Hamilton also failed to beat his previous time, leaving the door open for Rosberg to capitalise. Rosberg’s final attempt was not good enough to beat his rival, but it did prove enough to jump the Red Bulls into second to make it another all-Mercedes front row.

Nico Hulkenberg stunned the Ferraris but taking fifth position on the grid ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel. Valtteri Bottas took eighth, followed by his team mate Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz Jnr rounding out the top ten.

But it was Lewis Hamilton who took his tenth pole of the season and the 59th of his career for tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Top ten in Q3

PositionDriverTeamLap time
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.704
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’18.958
3Max VerstappenRed Bull1’19.054
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’19.133
5Nico HulkenbergForce India1’19.330
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’19.376
7Sebastian VettelFerrari1’19.381
8Valtteri BottasWilliams1’19.551
9Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1’20.032
10Carlos SainzWilliams1’20.378

2016 Mexican Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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58 comments on “Hamilton on pole, Rosberg second in Mexico”

  1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    29th October 2016, 20:09

    I would love to see Hulkenburg in a Merc.

    1. Hulk is showing Perez who has real pace but in this joke rubber era is real shame that he still has no podium like rubber saver Perez.

      1. One good qualifying…. Still even in the qualifying battle @dex022

        1. Hulk is definitely faster than Checo.
          If you go back and see the qualy’s of this year, Hulk had bad luck and unknown issues with his car always !

          I wished he would stay back at FI so that a strong comparison could be done between him and Checo when this tyre circus is over !

          1. @bharathdreddy

            Perez has had so many issues in quali

            – The teams mistake in Bahrain costing him ten places
            – The suspension problem in Austria losing him another dozen places
            – Broken diffuser in USA

            Well as Hulk only had a problem in China

            I expect Checo to be well ahead tomorrow anyway so I don’t care

      2. @dex22 Perez didn’t make it past q2 only because he locked up at turn one. Btw, what about the 9 times he has out-qualified Hulkenberg this season? Was he tyre-saving in those qualy sessions?

        That being said, really happy with Hulk’s performance today.

  2. Nico can no longer get more poles this season than Lewis anymore. And 3 of those Nicos 8 poles were pretty much uncontested when Lewis had car troubles.

    1. Uncontested doesn’t mean undeserved. How do you know for sure that Hamilton would have beaten Rosberg in China and Russia?

    2. Lewis might well get the rest of the poles and wins this season. What would it prove? Not much. Nico is understandably content with being second, and non-Mercs can’t come near.

      1. They’re clutching at straws of comfort Hyoko because *should* Hamilton not again be crowned WC, there are so many people for whom Life Will Be Over that unless they do, there would be long queues forming to jump off high-rises, bridges and clifftops starting mid-November.

  3. Arrgghh! Ferrari!!!

    1. Arrgghh! Sainz!!! Qualified in a Williams!!!!

      1. yes, and poor show from Massa, he was 9th in a Williams/Mercedes while Bottas was 8th in a simple Williams ;P

  4. Close quali. Pirelli should have brought the US tyres here. Nico somehow managed to get in the correct tyre temperature to get 2nd.

    1. ”Pirelli should have brought the US tyres here.” – That’s what I thought at the time of the confirmation of the tyre compound selection for this race back in July, LOL.

  5. Well played by Rosberg.

    1. the 2nd place could be the better one to start if he doesnt screw up and uses slipstream

    2. Yes, congratulations for being out qualified.

      1. Maybe, maybe not. Rosberg only needs second to keep his WDC on track. Also, look at the Mercedes power units’ reliability — Hamilton’s qualy times this year are truly and absolutely remarkable, but he’s broken by far more “p.u. parts” than any other Mercedes engine driver across four teams. Rosberg left it a bit late today, but pulled the cat mostly out of the bag; he says that he’s not looking at the WDC (“one race at a time”), but he’s also doing a good job not over-stressing his engine.

        1. Care to explain how a driver breaks an MGU, @paul-a?

          1. MGU-H or MGU-K? Not that it matters, I only suggested looking at numbers — numbers are absolute and don’t depend on guesswork or opinion. Hamilton’s poles are, as I said “truly and absolutely remarkable”, but poles depend on a bit of luck (time and track position), driver skill, team set-up capability, and power (engine output.) It’s numerical fact that Hamilton’s poles come at the same time as his drop in reliability.
            Mercedes are the only(?) team that (according to TV pundits) have “special settings” available during quali to deliver extra power that is substantially outside their “normally acceptable” settings. The harder you drive any car (commuter, road, rally, race, F1) the more likely it is to break.
            Again, I only suggest that you look at the numbers — forget “opinion.”

          2. Feeble dodge @paul-a. Drivers drive always at full throttle, in the mode instructed by their engineer. MGU use is automated. The only influence the drivers have is kerb use and that tends to affect transmission rather than PU. You’ve taken coincidence and tried to construct some malicious speculation, is all, for reason that are obscure but, one feels, entirely to your discredit. Your discredit dude, not Hamilton’s.

        2. The engine is built to be able to give a boost for one lap qualifying. I don’t know why people say Hamilton over stresses the engines. The peopl who know say the driving styles don’t affect the cars reliability

          1. Who are “the people who know”? Maybe “driving style” (smoothness, use of kerbs, late braking, a number of things) doesn’t affect engine reliability. But again, look at the numbers: eight Merc engines on the grid, six of them are the most reliable, Rosberg’s use is halfway, and Hamilton has by far the worst reliability numbers — and the best qualifying record.
            Maybe it’s all coincidence, or conspiracy theory, or that Hamilton, probably quite rightly, knows that if he pushes limits to get pole (and make a good start) he can “control the race” (i.e. not get overtaken) to a win. That’s very smart, unless getting the pole by overusing “special settings” leads to unreliability.
            In the “old days”, F1 cars used different engines for qualifying and racing, so the advantage of pole is well known. I seem to remember one team using a 6-cylinder engine for practice, a 12-cylinder for qualy and an 8-cylinder for the race all in the same weekend. So there’s nothing “new” at Mercedes — outlandish power for quali is strategic gambling.

        3. That would be the case if engine stress and lap time were directly related but they aren’t. Rosberg has been slower than Hamilton because of flow and positioning through the corners, not because he is using his engine less.

          1. I think getting the tyres in the right temperature range was way more of a factor.

          2. Martin, furthermore, that theory doesn’t really work when you consider that, back in 2015, Hamilton beat Rosberg 12-7 in qualifying trim, yet Rosberg was the driver that season who had more mechanical issues than Hamilton did.

            To me, it feels more like Paul A made a particular assumption and then made the data fit his hypothesis. We are, after all, talking about a relatively small sample pool in terms of engines, so a statistical freak cluster of failures due to production issues – such as those which hit Hamilton – are going to have a disproportionately high impact.

          3. There was something about performance-enhancing oil thickness and the failure in Malaysia.

        4. @Paul A
          In qualifying they use the max setting to get the faster lap. So there is no more aggressive setting for Hamilton to use.
          Both drivers are in the most aggressive setting already.

  6. gonna be interesting start tomorrow, if ham doesnt screw up and and ves/ric flies of the line, i can see ros drop a few places even without crashless first corner… with a collision, things will be super creepy for the last two races…

  7. This weekend has been as last season’s a delight till now. The track is not the old one, despite it’s simplicity in layout, the layout works very well. All things considered the cars are great, sliding all over, small corners, constant direction changes, beautiful to see not the invisible aero working but the drivers and the tyres suffering. The drivers may not like it but those stands are incredible. The track despite popular knowledge should be great for overtaking. A shame to see Ferrari making mistakes again, definitely they didn’t set up the car for these conditions.

  8. Carlos Sainz in a Williams. Maybe a portent of things to come.

    1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      29th October 2016, 20:20

      @72defender Felipe switched to Mercedes halfway through the session.

  9. Vettel is once again out-qualified by a 37-year-old Kimi. And Ferrari is such a laughable team at the moment. Absolutely shocking that a FORCE INDIA did better. Wow. And well done to Hulkenberg and Sainz, they really wrestled their cars in positions where they don’t belong.

    1. so vettel can’t get outqualified by a world champion who clearly raised his game?

      1. The point is that Kimi is 37 and way past his prime, whereas Vettel is 29 and in his prime so I find it surprising that Kimi is out-qualifying Vettel on a regular basis at the moment. Pretty embarrassing for Vettel.

        1. Not as emberrasing as losing the title when you have the fastest cars.

          Something vettel never has done.

          1. lol nr would beat vet slow kimi can. Ros is by far hams fastest qually teammate.
            Look at Hams stats he could be on 70 poles with webber as teammate. Hamilton rep is fine if nr is wc. Who can say i had 3 wc as teammates.

            Reliability cost lewis this year. SV 4XWC what is his excuse 10 9 vs Kimi and he was shown up by Ric and ran from him 4 x wc could not adapt and his teammate won 3 races.

            Kimi suddenly does well after few seasons…. Yeah sure. That Ferrari is not even getting the max extracted i bet.

          2. 2009. And who are you making a reference to?

          3. It’s easy when you have a bad teammate and a very dominant car.

        2. i really dont think that, he’s very fast this season and being 37 doesnt make you slow

  10. Yes Verstappen. Hope he can give the Mercs a run for their money.

    1. Hopefully he won’t give his own pit crew a run for their money again.

      1. Hopefully he wont give his car a run for its money as well :)

    2. You can put it either way you want but it was only Verstappen who fought Mercedes this year + Ricciardo at Monaco.

      I figure RBR can put some pressure on Rosberg

  11. The Hulk.

  12. “Jolyon Palmer … cracked chassis after running over a kerb in final practice.” Nobody seems to have commented on this, but I think I heard that it was his seat belt attachment points that failed. For running over a kerb? Can anyone confirm? If it’s true (and I normally hate over-regulation and “nanny-type” safety), this is truly worrying that either the tech specs or the inspection process has let this happen.

  13. Interesting comments post qualifying from Lewis and Nico.

    ROS claimed he only felt comfortable half way through qually, which at the time he was consistently .5 down on Lewis on both compounds.

    Lewis then stated he was surprised to see Rosberg that close as he was struggling all weekend, but the moment the team switched him to his setup, he put it together.

    Thats probably why Toto & Niki were so happy when he got second. Without that info, he’d probably be starting 4th

    1. Interesting.

      Also what’s the tally? We know Lewis has copied ROS setup and vice versa.

      I think they are about even at this point for copying each other’s set ups (as teammates over the years).

      Lewis couldn’t have won his championships without copying rosberg a few times. I guess he’s just repaying the favor :-)

  14. So annoyed today, all my drivers had a bad qualifying, at least I wasn’t available to watch half of it. Ferrari what are you doing, I was rooting for Seb or Rosberg to get pole, but neither did. Checo I am really annoyed with P12 now Hulkenberg will go back to being a ‘future world champion’ or a ‘Mercedes driver’ like some guy has posted above. And Esteban P17… Hope the race can be better for me!

    1. You really do hate Hulkenberg don’t you!

      1. Yeah, I don’t get the hate either…

      2. @ultimateuzair I just saw the comment like three months later! For some reason I don’t like him because he is kinda overhyped back in 2012 and 2013 when tbh he wasn’t doing that well, especially on this forum.

  15. Haha Nasr 6 tenths slower than Ericsson in q1 and he is being considered for the Williams seat :D

    1. Well, I think is Banco do Brasil what is actually being considered for the Williams seat…

  16. Who knows how quick this Ferrari is? Kimi vs Alo and Gro in 2nd half was poor in qually. He is 37, Vet rep will not be good if kimi wins. Ric and now 37 yr old Kimi. I hope ves beats Ric and in 2018 he joins ferrari imagine his rep then 10/9 is inexcusable in qually.

  17. Fans of Felipe Nasr who have been complaining about Ericsson copying his set-up work really should read Felipe’s comments after qualifying:

    Qualifying was not as good as I was expecting. Before FP3 we chose the identical set-up to the other car, but the outcome was completely different. In general I had a lack of grip in a lot of corners phases. At least the other car seems to work, so we have a reference there.

    I cannot but feel sorry for Nasr who showed last season that he’s a good driver when he has a decent car. This season is a nightmare for him where nothing seems to work and his self-belief must be shot to pieces.

  18. Kinda disappointed by the end result of qualifying, even though of my 2 main drivers Button did decent and Hulkenberg did brilliant. Q2 was Red Bull – Mercedes – Ferrari – Red Bull – Mercedes – Force India – Ferrari, but in the end it was pretty much 2 by 2 in Q3 again, with the Mercedes evidently faster than the Red Bull’s who were evidently faster than the Ferrari’s, and Hulkenberg even split those 2 teams. Really hoping that next season it’s closer, although I think Red Bull will be the best team again, with Adrian Newey, high downforce cars and them not wanting to do the Bahrain test, it seems like they have something.

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