Hamilton third as Ricciardo grabs Mexican Grand Prix pole

Hamilton third as Ricciardo grabs Mexican Grand Prix pole

Hamilton third as Ricciardo grabs Mexican Grand Prix pole

"Same problems from P2, engine braking not how I want to, just rear-locking in the auto". The reigning world champion - who needs to finish seventh or higher to claim a fifth title - looked out of sorts during the opening practice sessions on Friday.

Force India's Q2 gamble: Esteban Ocon's radio message at the end of Q2 confirmed Force India's preference not to qualify inside the top ten: "Good job - that's what we targeted, right?"

World championship leader Hamilton, seeking to clinch his fifth drivers' title, was third for Mercedes ahead of his only rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, with Valtteri Bottas fifth in the second Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen sixth. "Of course, being behind the Red Bulls is not a bad thing".

But starting tomorrow's race side-by-side is ripe withy risk. A year ago he recovered to come home fourth, over a minute behind race victor Verstappen.

Understandably, the Briton wants to avoid similar ill-fortune this time around. "We had a hard day yesterday and it was a big improvement today so obviously, yesterday we were much, much further back so I wasn't expecting to be up as high as we got but the team did a great job last night in analyzing and moving forward today".

Horner said that if Verstappen's vehicle needed an engine change, the driver still had one left in his pool and should not face any grid drop.

"We tried to make the best of it and I thought it was going to be enough with the problems we had, but it's still good to be second".

"So big changes and improvements were made overnight and to come back in today and put us in contention all of a sudden - we didn't think yesterday with that performance that we would be able to qualify on an ultra so that would have been a massive disadvantage for us tomorrow if we had to start on the hyper for example. But of course I'll be aware of the Bulls ahead".

"[Our] race pace was not so bad yesterday but those guys again were in their own league in that section", he admitted. "I mean, that's what we're here to do, is to race".

"So I guess there must be some sort of hole or something being on the inside of a auto in that position", he suggested.

"I'm holding a lot in".

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